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What Are Dissociative Disorders? Types, Symptoms and Treatment

what is dissociative disorder
Dissociative disorder refers to disruptions of consciousness, identity, memory, motor movements and environmental awareness. Dissociative disorder usually develops as a reaction to traumatic events such as war, accidents or abuse. Basically, it’s your mind’s extreme way of coping with traumatic events by dissociating from reality. There are four main types of Dissociative disorders.

1. Dissociative amnesia

dissociative amnesia
photo courtesy: Mental Health Guru
When an individual is unable to recall an event for a period of time due to a traumatic event, stress, or genetics, it is known as dissociative amnesia. It usually occurs without a physical injury and there is still a chance of bringing back the memories to awareness. Dissociative amnesia can last for minutes, hours, months or years. Usually a person who experiences dissociative amnesia cannot recall the traumatic event but can remember other things about themselves and their life.

2. Depersonalisation disorder

photo courtesy: Natural Health News
When an individual has depersonalisation disorder, they feel disconnected with their body and reality. It can last for few minutes to years, and during this period, the individual feels like an observer looking at themselves and there is no sense of control over their behaviour, sensations and thoughts.

3. Dissociative identity disorder

Dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder
photo courtesy: aevita
It is also known as Multiple Personality Disorder, it is a disorder that has been portrayed in many movies, so you must have an idea about it. A person with Dissociative identity disorder has different personalities with their own distinct voices, names and characteristics. Usually, the host personality isn’t aware of the other alternative personalities but the alternative personalities are aware of the existing personalities.

4. Dissociative fugue

Dissociative fugue
photo courtesy: alweehdat
When an individual has the Dissociative fugue, they forget their previous identity and assume a new identity. They usually move to a new place and start a new life with no recollection of their previous identity. Dissociative fugue ends when the person is able to recall their previous identity but they are unable to remember the events that took place during the fugue.

Symptoms and Treatment

The crucial step in treating Dissociative disorders is the diagnosis of the disorder. Often people are unaware of such disorders, hence people don’t immediately seek professional help even if the symptoms are present. Therefore, being aware about oneself and the possibilities of having such a disorder is important.

Some of the symptoms of the dissociative disorder are:

  • Memory loss
  • Flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Feelings of detachment from yourself and your emotions
  • Two or more voices that converse within you
  • Significant stress related to family, work or relationships
  • Difficulty in coping with stress
  • Depression and anxiety

Dissociative disorder can also lead to other complications such as increased risk of suicide, self-mutilation, substance abuse, eating disorder and sleep disorder. After diagnosis, they can be treated through Psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) or Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Written by
Sucharitha V

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