What is dissociation? It can be hard to define because it means different things to different people. In general, dissociation can be described as a disconnection from one’s physical surroundings and/or emotions. It can be experienced as an altered state of consciousness or feeling like you’re watching yourself from outside your body.
Dissociation is often a coping mechanism used to deal with trauma or abuse. If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of dissociation, it is important to seek treatment. In this blog post, we will discuss the definition, signs and symptoms, and treatment of dissociation.
What is Dissociation?
Dissociation is a mental process and defense mechanism where a person disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, memories, and sense of self. This can be a temporary or long-term response to trauma or stress.
The American Psychiatric Association defines Dissociation as “a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception.”
While the American Psychological Association defines Dissociation as “a defense mechanism in which conflicting impulses are kept apart of threatening ideas and feelings are separated from the rest of the psyche.”
Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD)
Different types of dissociation disorders can be diagnosed by a mental health professional. The most well-known disorder is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD).
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states, also called alters, that takes control of an individual’s consciousness.
These personalities are usually very different from each other in terms of age, sex, race, and personal characteristics. They may have their own unique thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Most people with dissociative identity disorder have three to five alters, but some individuals have been found to have as many as 100. They may even have different handwriting and vocal patterns.
People with DID often report dissociation symptoms like feeling like they are watching themselves or their own life from outside of their bodies. Those with dissociative identity disorder may not be aware of the existence of their other personalities. They may also have gaps in their memory, commonly referred to as dissociative amnesia, and they may feel like they are losing time or have been possessed by another person.
Dissociative identity disorder is a complex mental illness that is often misunderstood. It is important to get accurate information and professional mental health help if you or someone you know is dealing with this condition. If you’re experiencing dissociation and dissociative disorders, some treatments can help you feel more connected to yourself and the world around you. If you think you may be dissociating, reach out to a mental health professional for help as soon as possible. With proper diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to manage your dissociative disorder symptoms and live a healthy, fulfilling life.
Types of Dissociative Disorders
There are three types of dissociation:
– Derealization Disorder
– Depersonalization Disorder
– Dissociative Amnesia
Signs and Symptoms of a Dissociative Disorder:
Derealization is when a person feels disconnected from the world around them. They may feel like they are in a dream or that the people and objects around them are not real.
Depersonalization is when a person feels disconnected from their own body and mind. They may feel like they are observing themselves from outside their body or that they are not in control of their own actions.
Amnesia is when a person cannot remember certain information about themselves or their life. This can be either selective amnesia, where they can’t remember specific events, or total amnesia, where they can’t remember anything at all.
What Causes Dissociative Disorder?
Dissociative disorders are often caused by trauma, such as child abuse, car accidents, or natural disasters. They can also be caused by stress from a difficult life event, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. Sexual assault or sexual abuse and combat can also lead to dissociative disorders.
Who Is Affected By Dissociative Disorders?
Some US studies have stated that dissociation disproportionately affects those who are transgender and/or gender-diverse, at approximately three times more than the general population.
It’s also been found that African-Americans and Asian-Americans experience higher rates of dissociative disorders than Caucasians.
When it comes to the sexes, women are more likely to be diagnosed with dissociative disorders than men. This could be due to the fact that women are more likely to experience trauma, such as sexual abuse than men.
When Might I Dissociate?
Dissociation is a natural response that most often happens when you are under stress, but it can also happen without any apparent trigger.
What’s a trigger?
A trigger is anything—a person, place, thing, or situation—that elicits a memory of the trauma and causes a strong emotional or physical reaction.
You might experience dissociation when you are:
– Experiencing a traumatic or stressful event like a natural disaster
– Facing a difficult life situation
– Dealing with overwhelming emotions
– Trying to cope with physical pain or emotional abuse
– Childhood trauma
Treatment for Dissociative Disorders
Dissociation is a normal response to trauma or stress. However, if you or someone that you love is regularly dissociating or having trouble functioning in day-to-day life, you may have a dissociative disorder. It’s important to see a mental health specialist and discuss your current mental health condition. Dissociative disorders are treatable, and with the right treatment options, you can learn to manage your symptoms and live a fulfilling life!
How Do You Treat Dissociation or DID?
Treatment for dissociative identity disorder usually involves talk therapy, which can help you understand your mental illness, thoughts, and feelings and how to cope with them. You may also be prescribed medication to help treat any underlying mental health conditions or other disorders.
Since stress and anxiety can trigger dissociation, therapy may also focus on learning healthy coping mechanisms and stress-management techniques. You and your therapist will work together to identify your triggers and develop a plan to help you avoid or manage them. In some cases, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy may be recommended as a way to address a past traumatic event that may be causing dissociative symptoms.
No matter what the underlying cause is, our licensed and trained psychotherapists will work with you to help address your dissociative disorder and symptoms in order to improve your quality of life. If you’re struggling with dissociation, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Our friendly mental health professionals are available and excited to be of service! Don’t let mental illnesses control your life, call 833-957-2690 today for your free initial consultation.
Other Mental Health Conditions
It’s important to seek out help in order to receive a true diagnosis from mental health professionals as your dissociation may be caused by other mental health disorders. Some mental health disorders that can cause dissociative symptoms include:
– Anxiety / Panic Disorder
– Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
– Bipolar Disorder
– Borderline Personality Disorder
If you’re struggling with dissociation, know that you are not alone. Help is available, and with the right treatment, you can learn to manage your symptoms and live a fulfilling life! Mindflow Recovery offers several different types of therapy that can help treat dissociative disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), EMDR, and more.
Contact us today at 833-957-2690 to learn more about our services or to schedule a free consultation.
Too Much Stress? Feeling Disconnected?
We get it and there’s help available to you. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts and needs immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8225). You can also text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.