What Are Dissociative Disorders?
Research has found that around 1 to 5% of people experience a dissociative disorder at some point in their lives. It can be hard to understand, but simply put, dissociative disorders can make us feel disconnected from our surroundings and even from our thoughts. The good news is that a dissociative disorders treatment program can help you to make progress. We look closely at dissociative disorders and your treatment options in Lantana, FL.
What Are Dissociative Disorders?
The term “dissociative disorders” is unfamiliar to many people because this group of conditions was previously known by other names. The main one was multiple personality disorder, which led to many misunderstandings about the condition. The American Psychiatric Association notes that rather than having multiple personalities, people with the disorder have “rather less than one personality.”
Many people with one of these disorders have been misdiagnosed over the years. Common misdiagnoses include:
- Borderline personality disorder
- Auditory hallucinations
However, the treatments for these conditions are ineffective in treating dissociative disorders. A proper diagnosis is essential for a dissociative disorders treatment program.
Types of Dissociative Disorders and Their Symptoms
There are three main types of dissociative disorders. Each has specific symptoms and requires slightly different treatment programs. Identifying the type of dissociative disorder is important to create a treatment plan.
Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) was commonly known as multiple personality disorder. People with this disorder may question their identity. They may feel they are host to distinct personalities with unique traits. People with DID may experience gaps in their memory regarding recent events and personal history. They may switch involuntarily from one identity to another. They may feel that they are not present, as though they are observing what is happening to themselves.
Some people’s symptoms have a minimal impact on their daily lives. But for others, they are more severe and can make it difficult to function socially and at work.
As the name suggests, Dissociative Amnesia causes people to forget either entire periods of time or particular events. To an extent, everyone forgets information about the past as time passes. But this type of forgetting is different and is usually related to specific traumatic events.
The most common types are localized and selective. The person cannot remember a specific event or time period with localized amnesia. With selective amnesia, specific aspects or events are erased from the memory.
Depersonalization and derealization are two distinct experiences. People with dissociative disorders have recurring episodes of one or both of these conditions. Depersonalization disorder causes the person to feel detached from themselves, their body, or their mind. They might feel like an outsider looking in on themselves.
Derealization is a feeling of detachment, or what is happening around you isn’t real. These experiences are uncomfortable, and the person knows something is not right. They usually begin in the teen years, and most people have their first experience before age 20.
Conditions That Coexist With Dissociative Disorders
Most people with dissociative disorders are also diagnosed with other mental health conditions. These coexisting conditions may include:
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
This list is just a snapshot of the type of mental health concerns that coexist with dissociative disorders. Some people may also suffer from problems with sleep. An effective Dissociative Disorders treatment program may also need to account for coexisting conditions.
What Causes Dissociative Disorders?
Have you ever gotten so engrossed in an activity that you’ve temporarily lost awareness of your surroundings? It could be a fantastic movie, book, or just from daydreaming! The brain can also use this ability to protect us from distressing memories. It is thought that dissociative disorders are triggered by trauma. The types of trauma can take many forms, including:
- Childhood neglect
- Abuse, whether physical, emotional, or sexual
- Natural disasters
- Being a victim of crime
The memories of these events can be overwhelming and traumatic. This can make a person dissociate from these events to escape the stress they cause. When people dissociate, they may forget the circumstances, as in dissociative amnesia. Ongoing trauma, such as childhood abuse or neglect, is the most common cause of dissociative disorders.
Treating Dissociative Disorders
The main tool that doctors use to treat dissociative disorders is psychotherapy. The goal of ‘talking therapies’ is to help you identify the underlying cause of your symptoms. Your therapist will then help you learn techniques that can assist you as you manage the times when you feel disconnected.
The thought of dealing with traumatic memories can be very stressful. Your safety is the priority of the team providing dissociative disorders treatments. The process will begin with a thorough evaluation to ensure that this is a safe treatment for you.
Can Medication Help?
There is no specific medication used to treat dissociative disorders. However, some medications can help with other conditions, including depression and insomnia. Treating coexisting conditions can help alleviate some of the stress of managing dissociative disorders.
How a Dissociative Disorders Treatment Program Can Help
There is no one size fits all approach to treating dissociative disorders. Finding the right program begins with understanding your individual experience. The team will then recommend a program that is the best fit for you.
Treatment could include inpatient or outpatient care. Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy can help. They focus on changing patterns of thinking and behavior.
Many people find that they can make real progress and reduce their symptoms.
Choose Comprehensive Wellness Centers for Dissociative Disorder Treatment
At Comprehensive Wellness Centers, we look at each person as an individual. We’re here to help you improve your mental health with a tailored treatment program. Our inpatient and outpatient programs can help people with dissociative disorders. You’ll be able to process your trauma and reduce feelings of disconnection safely. Call us at 855-844-3162 or reach out online today to learn more!
Medically Reviewed: October 13, 2022
Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.