Dissociative symptoms anxiety

Dissociative disorders - Symptoms and causes


Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. People with dissociative disorders escape reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.

Dissociative disorders usually develop as a reaction to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay. Symptoms — ranging from amnesia to alternate identities — depend in part on the type of dissociative disorder you have. Times of stress can temporarily worsen symptoms, making them more obvious.

Treatment for dissociative disorders may include talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication. Although treating dissociative disorders can be difficult, many people learn new ways of coping and lead healthy, productive lives.

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Signs and symptoms depend on the type of dissociative disorders you have, but may include:

  • Memory loss (amnesia) of certain time periods, events, people and personal information
  • A sense of being detached from yourself and your emotions
  • A perception of the people and things around you as distorted and unreal
  • A blurred sense of identity
  • Significant stress or problems in your relationships, work or other important areas of your life
  • Inability to cope well with emotional or professional stress
  • Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors

There are three major dissociative disorders defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association:

  • Dissociative amnesia. The main symptom is memory loss that's more severe than normal forgetfulness and that can't be explained by a medical condition. You can't recall information about yourself or events and people in your life, especially from a traumatic time. Dissociative amnesia can be specific to events in a certain time, such as intense combat, or more rarely, can involve complete loss of memory about yourself. It may sometimes involve travel or confused wandering away from your life (dissociative fugue). An episode of amnesia usually occurs suddenly and may last minutes, hours, or rarely, months or years.
  • Dissociative identity disorder. Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, this disorder is characterized by "switching" to alternate identities. You may feel the presence of two or more people talking or living inside your head, and you may feel as though you're possessed by other identities. Each identity may have a unique name, personal history and characteristics, including obvious differences in voice, gender, mannerisms and even such physical qualities as the need for eyeglasses. There also are differences in how familiar each identity is with the others. People with dissociative identity disorder typically also have dissociative amnesia and often have dissociative fugue.
  • Depersonalization-derealization disorder. This involves an ongoing or episodic sense of detachment or being outside yourself — observing your actions, feelings, thoughts and self from a distance as though watching a movie (depersonalization). Other people and things around you may feel detached and foggy or dreamlike, time may be slowed down or sped up, and the world may seem unreal (derealization). You may experience depersonalization, derealization or both. Symptoms, which can be profoundly distressing, may last only a few moments or come and go over many years.
When to see a doctor

Some people with dissociative disorders present in a crisis with traumatic flashbacks that are overwhelming or associated with unsafe behavior. People with these symptoms should be seen in an emergency room.

If you or a loved one has less urgent symptoms that may indicate a dissociative disorder, call your doctor.

Suicidal thoughts or behavior

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately, go to an emergency room, or confide in a trusted relative or friend. Or contact a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat. Services are free and confidential.

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Dissociative disorders usually develop as a way to cope with trauma. The disorders most often form in children subjected to long-term physical, sexual or emotional abuse or, less often, a home environment that's frightening or highly unpredictable. The stress of war or natural disasters also can bring on dissociative disorders.

Personal identity is still forming during childhood. So a child is more able than an adult to step outside of himself or herself and observe trauma as though it's happening to a different person. A child who learns to dissociate in order to endure a traumatic experience may use this coping mechanism in response to stressful situations throughout life.

Risk factors

People who experience long-term physical, sexual or emotional abuse during childhood are at greatest risk of developing dissociative disorders.

Children and adults who experience other traumatic events, such as war, natural disasters, kidnapping, torture, or extended, traumatic, early-life medical procedures, also may develop these conditions.


People with dissociative disorders are at increased risk of complications and associated disorders, such as:

  • Self-harm or mutilation
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Alcoholism and drug use disorders
  • Depression and anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Sleep disorders, including nightmares, insomnia and sleepwalking
  • Eating disorders
  • Physical symptoms such as lightheadedness or non-epileptic seizures
  • Major difficulties in personal relationships and at work


Children who are physically, emotionally or sexually abused are at increased risk of developing mental health disorders, such as dissociative disorders. If stress or other personal issues are affecting the way you treat your child, seek help.

  • Talk to a trusted person such as a friend, your doctor or a leader in your faith community.
  • Ask for help locating resources such as parenting support groups and family therapists.
  • Look for churches and community education programs that offer parenting classes that also may help you learn a healthier parenting style.

If your child has been abused or has experienced another traumatic event, see a doctor immediately. Your doctor can refer you to a mental health professional who can help your child recover and adopt healthy coping skills.

By Mayo Clinic Staff


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Anxiety & Dissociation: What is the Connection?

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 7/2/2022

Spacing out is a normal human experience. We let our minds wander, let our thoughts drift, and sometimes we can do it for so long that time seems to pass without us even noticing it.

It’s perfectly normal to do this occasionally, but when spacing out begins to affect your life or when daydreaming leaves you missing out on the day because you’ve been too into the dream, it can be something called dissociation. 

The average person might consider dissociation to be an extreme — when someone “blacks out” for hours or days or years before suddenly becoming themselves again. But dissociation is far more elusive of an experience than those extremes, and it can be caused by far more subtle triggers than you might expect. 

People who dissociate might do this for a number of reasons. If you’re a person with an anxiety disorder, or if a loved one has anxiety and seems to dissociate on a regular basis, you might wonder if there’s a connection. 

It turns out that anxiety and dissociation have a lot more in common than you might think.

What is Dissociation?

Dissociation is a state in which your consciousness, memory, thoughts and identity temporarily disconnect from reality, resulting in things like out-of-body experiences, feelings of detachment and even a lack of self-identity.

There are levels of dissociation. Milder forms may have some similarities to that feeling of “spacing out” that we mentioned, where you lose track of time and miss a conversation that’s going on right in front of you.

But more often than not, the serious, mental health condition versions of dissociation and dissociative disorder occur as a result of trauma — dissociative disorder typically develops as a coping mechanism to deal with those traumatic experiences.

Trauma can lead to a lot of conditions, from the telltale signs of posttraumatic stress disorder to generalized anxiety disorder to dissociative disorder. In children, for instance, dissociation symptoms might be the result of the trauma of being neglected, or emotionally or sexually abused.

As adults, the same types of abuse might cause dissociative experiences and disorders, as might living through combat, natural disasters and other traumatic events.

The Symptoms of Dissociation

Dissociation, first and foremost, is not a dangerous condition. It’s important to understand this, because while there are some examples of people with dissociative disorder committing crimes and other horrible acts while in a dissociative episode, the reality is that most dissociative people are not criminally violent or evil. Instead, they’re in a reactive state because their brain has perceived some sort of danger.

Symptoms of dissociation and dissociative disorders are far more introspective than you might imagine. They include memory loss, out-of-body experiences, a lack of self-identity, emotional numbness and detachment from your own emotions.

People with dissociative disorders or people who have experienced dissociative episodes are also at a heightened risk for conditions like depression, anxiety and suicidality or suicidal ideation.

A person with dissociation might also experience specific disorders as a result of their dissociation. For example, dissociative amnesia is amnesia due to dissociation, while depersonalization is a detachment from your own actions, feelings and thoughts.

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How Dissociation and Anxiety Are Connected

It’s fair to say that dissociation and anxiety are sort of siblings in the space of mental health disorders. Both can be caused by traumas of the past. Both can be symptoms of something greater that hasn’t been addressed. 

Both conditions are the result of your own mind trying to protect you, either from fear or worry or from memories of traumas past.

These conditions also increase risk factors for one another — anxiety can cause dissociation and dissociation can cause anxiety.

Is Dissociation Common in Anxiety Sufferers?

Is dissociation common in patients with anxiety disorders? As you probably expect by now, the answer is a firm yes.  

Data shows a lot of connections between the two conditions — dissociative experiences are a somewhat commonly reported symptom of panic disorder, which is one of the more extreme types of anxiety disorders.

Recent research shows that depersonalization is particularly common in conditions like panic disorder, though future studies are needed to fully understand the relationship between dissociation and anxiety.

Treating Anxiety and Dissociation

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the best options for getting dissociation symptoms under control are the common therapeutic categories of medication and psychotherapy.

In particular, they point to two kinds of therapy that are considered effective in helping people with dissociative disorders: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and a related form called dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT.

CBT, in fact, is highly regarded for effectively helping people cope with anxiety. At its heart, CBT isn’t a therapy so much as it’s a therapeutic process — one geared toward learning to spot, control, and manage anxious thoughts rather than let them control you.  

CBT is all about learning self awareness, and training yourself to reject irrational thoughts and those extreme anxiety responses that may cause dissociation and other issues if left unmanaged.

The process of DBT is similar to CBT but with an emphasis on accepting uncomfortable thoughts and feelings instead of fighting against them, in order to understand that change is possible.

As for pharmacological treatment, dissociation can be helped with antidepressants, a class of medications originally approved to treat depression symptoms and people with depressive disorders. While treating depression is their primary use, antidepressants can also be used to treat other mental health disorders such as anxiety and dissociative disorder.

Antidepressants like the popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) help your brain rebalance neurotransmitter supplies — this, in turn, regulates mood and can help with dissociation symptoms.

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Anxiety and Dissociation: The Big Picture

Whether you’ve been dissociating for a long time and are just now seeing the pattern, or you’ve experienced your first dissociative episode and want to get help immediately, we can tell you that you’re not abnormal, weird or alone.  

Like other mental health conditions, dissociation has been unfairly painted with Hollywood’s brush over the years, which comes with stigma and some unfair shame for people dealing with these problems. 

The truth is that dissociation might be the result of conditions like dissociative identity disorder, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or other conditions, and a healthcare professional is the only person who can help you determine where this all begins for you.

You are not the problem — you are someone in need of treatment and support. There is no worse treatment than no treatment.

Ready to get the support you deserve and the treatment that will help you live your life again? We can help. 

We can start with more information: explore our mental health resources guide if you have lingering questions about mental health treatment. 

If you’re ready to put your first foot forward on treatment, we can help with that too — consider our telepsychiatry or online counseling for your therapy needs today.

Help is available now. Start your treatment journey today.

10 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Ray, S., Ray, R., Singh, N., & Paul, I. (2021). Dissociative experiences and health anxiety in panic disorder. Indian journal of psychiatry, 63(1), 70–73. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8106434/.
  2. Pallanti, S., Grassi, G., Sarrecchia, E. D., Cantisani, A., & Pellegrini, M. (2011). Obsessive-compulsive disorder comorbidity: clinical assessment and therapeutic implications. Frontiers in psychiatry, 2, 70. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2011.00070/full.
  3. Dissociative disorders. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.nami. org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Dissociative-Disorders.
  4. Dissociation and dissociative disorders. MHA. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders.
  5. Taylor C. B. (2006). Panic disorder. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 332(7547), 951–955. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1444835/.
  6. Bandelow, B., Michaelis, S., & Wedekind, D. (2017). Treatment of anxiety disorders. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 19(2), 93–107. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573566/.
  7. Gentile, J. P., Dillon, K. S., & Gillig, P. M. (2013). Psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for patients with dissociative identity disorder. Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 10(2), 22–29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3615506/
  8. 5 things I wish my loved ones knew about dissociation. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2020/5-Things-I-Wish-My-Loved-Ones-Knew-About-Dissociation.
  9. Antidepressants. NIH. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/antidepressants.html.
  10. Anxiety disorders. NIH. (2022). Retrieved March 21, 2022 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders#part_2225

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Dissociative (conversion) disorders: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment | doc.ua

Dissociative (conversion) disorders are manifested by various somatic mental symptoms. Such symptoms are also characterized by temporary and sudden changes or loss of certain functions, which is the cause of psychological conflict. Also, mental symptoms such as ganser syndrome are inextricably linked to conflict and can be characterized by their rapid onset and reversibility. nine0005


Here you can choose a doctor who treats Dissociative (Conversion) Disorders If you are not sure about the diagnosis, make an appointment with a general practitioner or general practitioner to clarify the diagnosis.

Conversion refers to the replacement of anxiety by various somatic symptoms, which can often be signs of a neurological disease. Dissociation, on the other hand, means that the symptoms come from an incorrect interaction between different functions of a mental nature and are the result of certain disorders. Also, this kind of disorder can be called hysteria. nine0011 There are two main problems in the diagnosis of this type of disorder.
At the beginning of the development of a disease, such as depersonalization syndrome, for example, somatic pathology cannot be completely excluded. Often, long-term monitoring of the patient is required, many procedures are performed, which makes it possible to make an accurate diagnosis. If the case is doubtful, then they stop at the diagnosis of dissociative disorders, which does not allow the presence of a serious somatic disease.
It is sometimes very difficult to determine whether such symptoms are conscious or unconscious. In many cases, simulation is observed in those who are deprived of their liberty or wish to avoid being drafted into the army. Often patients tend to exaggerate their symptoms, however, in the diagnosis, in any case, it is assumed that there is an unconscious component involved in the origin of the symptoms. nine0005

Disorders of this kind are divided into motor, sensory dissociative and dissociative disorders, which have certain psychological symptoms.


Very often patients, without realizing it, begin to imitate the symptomatic manifestations that they observe in others. Thus, they draw parallels between themselves and these people. It is also common that, after the death of the father, the adult daughter may suffer from dissociative paralysis, which, according to the clinical picture, is similar to that observed in the father before death. nine0011 The initial benefit is manifested in the fact that with the help of the processes of dissociation, as well as conversion, the patient can subconsciously prevent internal conflicts of a psychological nature, for example, with dissociative amnesia, the most pleasant events for him may fall out of the patient's memories.
A secondary or social benefit is that the outcome of a disease can be a distinct advantage for the patient. They can prevent difficult and obligatory everyday situations, since the sick are indeed forgiven a lot. They constantly receive support and a sufficient level of attention from others, they can manipulate their condition and use it to achieve personal goals. While the secondary benefit may be obvious, it cannot be used to make a 100% accurate diagnosis. nine0005


In fact, the occurrence of such symptoms is not intentional and deliberate, but they are formed under the influence of how the patient himself presents his disease. As already mentioned, patients often tend to exaggerate their symptoms, but at the heart of the disease are also unconscious mechanisms of a psychological nature. Patients suffering from this disorder may not be aware of their actions and not control them. It is also clear that these kinds of disorders are expressions of emotional conflict: they are closely related to stress and develop suddenly. nine0011 There is also an absence of organic etiological factors. If in the present or in the past there were true neurological disorders or systemic diseases that affect the central nervous system, then disorders were present in 40% of patients. Dissociative and conversion manifestations are often very difficult to distinguish from neurological or somatic disorders, especially in those patients who are well informed about the clinical picture and the course of such diseases. However, the medical examination and examination revealed no abnormalities. It is important to remember and understand that the diagnosis can only be established in the absence of physical and neurological disorders or in the absence of a clear connection with these disorders. nine0005

The clinical picture does not match the picture of the disorder and similar diseases. The manifestations of the disorders do not correspond to the manifestations of real neurological disorders, which reflects the naive ideas of patients regarding the anatomical innervation. This discrepancy is extremely important if it is necessary to clarify the diagnosis.


In almost all cases, the biggest problems are provoked by organic diseases of the central nervous system. For example, a clear weakness is seen in myopathies, myasthenia gravis and multiple sclerosis. Optic neuritis can be mistaken for dissociative blindness. Signs and symptoms that do not correspond to anatomical structures or known mechanisms of a pathophysiological nature are likely to be due to a dissociative disorder rather than a physical illness. That is, in all situations, it is necessary to conduct a thorough somatic and neurological examination of the patient. Symptoms of problems such as dissociative identity disorder, which may be relieved by hypnosis, suggestion, or the administration of certain drugs, are also likely to be psychogenic. nine0011 In the case of differential diagnosis of disorders, the following features should be taken into account:

  • age of onset of the disease - as a rule, dissociative disorders are detected at the age of less than 40 years;
  • symptoms - they appear under the influence of stressful situations. If situations of this kind are not present, then the diagnosis is doubtful. But stressful situations in and of themselves are not evidence of a dissociative disorder, as they often precede physical illness. nine0037
  • the secondary benefit discussed above. If it is absent, then the diagnosis of the disorder should be reconsidered.


In a task such as the treatment of dissociative disorders, it is first of all important to eliminate the circumstances that can traumatize the patient or minimize their influence. Often, positive action is achieved through a change of scenery. The main place in the treatment of such problems rests on the shoulders of psychotherapy, including rational one. It is very important for the patient to explain that the cause is not diseases, but psychological causes, therefore it is psychological therapy that is recommended in this situation. Regular persuasive conversations between the psychotherapist and the patient help him develop the right attitude towards this problem and the reasons that have become factors in its development. nine0005

Psychological treatment

Doctors advise using psychoanalytic psychotherapy. In certain cases, hypnosis and behavioral psychotherapy have a good effect. A very important condition for treatment is the study of the patient's situation in social terms, which makes it possible to exclude secondary benefits from these diseases.
Drug therapy does not play a fundamental role in this situation, except in cases where such disorders appear secondarily and are the result of a depressive illness. In case of severe anxiety, tranquilizers and antidepressants are indicated. nine0011 Almost all patients show improvement during treatment. In the absence of results of therapy, the possibility of a somatic disease should be excluded. In order to treat dissociative disorders, short and directive psychotherapeutic methods are used. Moreover, the more time the patient stays in the role of the patient, the worse the effect of therapy will be.
The prognosis is usually favorable. In almost all cases, the symptoms of the disease are short-lived, they begin abruptly and end just as quickly. Diseases that are long-term, and associated with some benefit, may be difficult to respond to therapies. Dissociative amnesia, which is the sudden ending of a disorder, rarely recurs. Dissociative fugue is a short-term disorder in which relapses are extremely rare, recovery occurs quickly and unexpectedly. Dissociative identity disorder is the most severe disorder of all, and it is likely to have a chronic course. Patients who have such dissociative personality disorders as derealization and depersonalization can be observed throughout life. At the same time, patients remain absolutely healthy outwardly, but may suffer from conditions of a depressive nature. nine0005

Dissociation - explaining a complex concept

Dissociation is a term used in both chemistry and psychology to describe the act of separation or separation. In chemistry, dissociation is the process of splitting a molecule of a chemical element or compound into smaller molecules, atoms, or ions, and in psychology, the term is known as a mental process in which a person tends to disconnect from their own thoughts, feelings, or lose a sense of identity. nine0005

The people most likely to experience dissociation are those who have experienced traumatic events such as abuse of any kind or the loss of someone they loved. It usually resolves on its own without professional treatment, but in some cases, dissociation can lead to dissociative disorders such as dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder, or depersonalization. In such cases, professional help is required.

Symptoms of dissociation

It is important to know that each person may experience dissociation differently because there is a wide variety of symptoms for this particular mental process. The most common signs are loss of memory of certain events, feeling disconnected from one's own feelings and thoughts, or even feeling that what is around you is not real or distorted, including other people.

When experiencing this mental process, people tend to have gaps in their memories of certain periods of time, or have difficulty remembering personal information, events, things that have happened, or people they have met. They typically experience multiple changes in their way of looking at things: feeling like a different person, having out-of-body experiences, feeling that they or the world around them is not real (called derealization), and emotional alienation from reality. nine0005

Physical symptoms include feeling dizzy or feeling that the heart rate is stronger and faster than usual, or feeling little or no pain.

The psychological symptoms of dissociative disorders also vary, depending on the type of disorder as well as its severity: the sensation of unusual voices in the head, being "stuck" in fantasies that seem more tangible than the real world, intense vivid memories, and distorted lifestyles. sense of time. They may also be associated with other psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. nine0005

How does dissociation feel?

People who have experienced or are currently experiencing dissociation or any type of dissociative disorder typically describe the difficulty they have in managing strong emotions as they feel disconnected from themselves and the world. Their own feelings are distorted and they experience unexpected mood swings. For example, they feel sad or anxious for unknown reasons. You may also have trouble concentrating or any other cognitive problems. Their perception of reality is rapidly changing: for example, they see objects around them change shape, color and size, or identify the environment as lifeless or blurry. nine0005

Many have described dissociation as feeling like a different person watching their actions from a distance, completely disconnected from their own body and emotions, feeling that they are no longer in control of themselves.

As far as their behavior is concerned, they tend to feel pressure to act in a certain way, even if they usually find such actions offensive, as their identity is constantly changing over a period of time. These personality changes occur frequently, and they include the behavior of different people, even children, or the use of different voices and tones. This leads to difficulty in expressing who they are and defining themselves. nine0005

Causes of dissociation

During their lives, most people are forced by circumstances to go through numerous stressful situations, some of which lead to trauma and other emotional reactions. Mental health professionals confirm that most cases of dissociation are caused by childhood trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse, severe neglect, or hostile family environment. However, traumatic events experienced in adulthood, such as war, torture, or natural disasters, can also contribute to the development of dissociation. nine0005

The amount of time to recover from a traumatic experience can vary depending on its emotional impact on the human mind. If it is minimal, the trauma can be healed over time, even though shock and denial are part of the healing process. Otherwise, severe trauma can lead to dissociation or, in extreme cases, even to the dissociative disorders listed above.

Dissociation is a defensive strategy, a way to deal with trauma. It is our human instinct to protect ourselves and respond to threats. How we do it varies, but there are a few common reactions to trauma, such as the psychological "fight or flight" response. Disconnecting oneself from the tragic reality during trauma is also a natural response, such as tending to forget certain parts of the event that caused the trauma and the people who were involved in the incident. nine0005

Other causes of dissociation are hypnosis and meditation, which make you less aware of your body. Last but not least, the use of alcohol and the use of certain types of drugs such as psychedelics such as psilocybin or LSD can also cause a sense of loss of sense of identity and self.

Dissociative Disorders

When the environment is no longer traumatic, but the survivor still cannot let go of the situation and feels the need to dissociate in order to protect themselves, dissociative disorders are more likely to develop. This is usually caused by getting used to using dissociation as a coping mechanism over a longer period of time, leading you to do it instinctively to deal with any other form of stress. nine0005

As previously mentioned, four main types of dissociative disorders have been observed by healthcare professionals, namely dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, depersonalization disorder, and dissociative identity disorder.

Dissociative amnesia , also known as psychogenic amnesia, occurs when a person has difficulty remembering specific details of a traumatic event while being aware that they are experiencing memory loss. It can last from a few days to several years and may be associated with other psychological disorders (such as an anxiety disorder). nine0005

There are four types of dissociative amnesia: localized amnesia (they remember nothing at all about the traumatic event for a limited period of time), selective amnesia (remembering the traumatic event is incomplete), generalized amnesia (they remember nothing about the traumatic event), and systematized amnesia (completely forget some individual things).

Dissociative fugue , also known as psychogenic fugue, is when a person suddenly experiences memory loss about everything from their past and their existence, including who they are. Unlike dissociative amnesia, they do not realize that they are in danger of memory loss and can create a new identity for themselves. As a rule, they go far from home and "start a new life." The dissociative fugue lasts from several hours to several months. Getting out of a fugue is usually very confusing for those who experience it because they don't remember travel, the "invention" of a new self, or anything that happened after the incident. nine0005

Depersonalization disorder manifests itself in the fact that a person feels detached, cut off from his own thoughts and emotions. People who experience this usually claim that they feel like they are watching themselves from the sidelines, like they are watching a movie, and are no longer in control of their actions. Their idea of ​​their own bodies is distorted because they represent them differently in terms of shapes and sizes. In extreme situations, they cannot even recognize themselves by looking in the mirror. Typically, the symptoms of this psychological disorder are difficulty concentrating and memory loss. nine0005

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is an ongoing discussion among mental health professionals because it is truly the most controversial dissociative disorder. Due to stressful situations and traumatic events, a person can develop multiple personality states, which means that they act like different people at different times, often changing their identity, outlook on life, opinions, and even intonation of voice. A person suffering from dissociative identity disorder is not aware of personality changes, as he simply takes into account his memory gaps. In most cases, a person suffering from this disorder also suffers from dissociative amnesia. It is considered the most severe type of dissociative disorder. nine0005

Dissociative Seizures

Also known as non-epileptic seizures, these are often mistaken for epilepsy and are therefore considered difficult by many experts because epilepsy medications can have unwanted side effects. Most patients experience dissociative seizures some time after epileptic seizures or may even experience both at the same time. However, their reasons are different. Epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, while dissociative seizures are associated with psychological trauma. nine0005

Treatment of dissociative seizures is similar to that of other dissociative disorders, consisting of counseling and medication.

Double dissociation occurs when two interrelated mental processes (eg speech and language comprehension) function independently of each other (meaning that someone can perfectly understand a language and still not speak it).

Signs of dissociation

Because mental health is extremely important, it is a good idea to pay attention to any warning signs you and those around you show. A person may have a dissociative disorder and not be aware of it. These signs include rapid and unexpected mood swings, trouble remembering details from the past, personality changes, mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, panic attacks, self-harm or thoughts of harming oneself, or any type of substance abuse. nine0005

Because children can easily develop dissociative disorders due to unfriendly environments, it is important to watch for signs such as absent-mindedness, detachment, having imaginary friends, or any type of memory loss, such as forgetting what they said or did for a short time. time.

Triggers and memories during dissociation

A person who usually dissociates or suffers from a dissociative disorder can be easily provoked by a visual image, a specific sound, a taste, a smell, or even a simple touch. A trigger is defined as a reminder of a traumatic event that has occurred. If provoked, the person may experience a flashback consisting of vivid horrific memories of the incident, and this may cause an identity change, especially in those with dissociative identity disorder (DID). nine0005

Dissociation Diagnosis

People experiencing any symptoms of dissociation or dissociative disorders are strongly advised to see a specialist to avoid further complications. The examination consists of a physical examination and a consultation regarding any other previous psychiatric disorders and any use of prohibited substances or drugs. In this case, professionals may need to take a blood sample or undergo other tests to look for any other medical condition that may have caused the dissociation, such as an electroencephalogram (EEG), a dissociative experience scale (DES), or a structured clinical interview followed by possible meetings with a professional psychiatrist, a psychologist or social worker to help identify the cause of the dissociation and support the patient during treatment. nine0005

Treatment for dissociation

Because there is no specific cure for dissociation, each person's treatment may be different, depending on their own needs and the severity of the disorder diagnosed. Here are some options: live in a safe and friendly environment, try your best to relax, take stress management advice and psychotherapy/counseling for a longer period of time. Specialists may also prescribe psychiatric drugs (such as barbiturates) or treatments for other disorders, such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or anxiety medications. Typically, mental health disorders are interrelated—a person suffering from a dissociative disorder may also have depression or anxiety. nine0005

There are several types of psychotherapy that can help people suffering from dissociative disorders:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy - helps to get rid of any negative thoughts
  • Hypnotherapy - certified hypnosis specialists are able to help patients recover from traumatic experiences in a relaxed state.
  • treatment of phase trauma - helps to reduce most thoughts of harming oneself and process the trauma over time
  • family treatment - since the friendly atmosphere at home is extremely helpful in these cases, the emotional support of loved ones is absolutely necessary
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy - a therapy designed to help manage strong emotions in a positive way

Mental health disorders associated with dissociative disorders

As mentioned above, people with dissociative disorders very often also show signs of depression, anxiety or other psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), BPD and ADHD . nine0005

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can develop after a person has experienced a traumatic event and its symptoms include flashbacks, reminder avoidance, and sudden changes in point of view, which are very similar to the dissociative disorders listed above . Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that includes the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and some additional symptoms, such as difficulty controlling strong emotions. Dissociation and PTSD are closely related and often occur together. While dissociative disorders most often result from childhood trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder develops regardless of age. The symptoms of PTSD can exacerbate the mental process of dissociation. nine0005

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental illness characterized by a distortion in the way a person relates to himself and others, which has a profound effect on his daily life. People with borderline personality disorder typically have problems with self-esteem, mood swings, managing feelings, and creating stable relationships with those around them. They also struggle with the fear of neglect, abandonment, and instability. This disorder usually begins in early adulthood. Approximately 75% to 80% of people with BPD also confirm dissociation. nine0005

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common psychiatric disorders that occurs in childhood. Symptoms include difficulty concentrating and controlling impulsive behavior, daydreaming more than usual, and difficulty communicating with others. Causes can be genetics or premature birth, alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy, low birth weight, or even brain injury. Research has shown that children who have experienced some form of physical or emotional abuse are more likely to develop ADHD, indicating that they may also struggle with dissociation and, if left untreated, may even develop dissociative disorders. Especially for children, the family and school environment are extremely important factors in the development or reduction of ADHD symptoms and, if applicable, dissociation or dissociative disorders. nine0005

As explained above, there are many psychological disorders associated with each other, most of which are caused by traumatic events experienced during life, from childhood and adolescence to adulthood. All of them negatively affect their personal lives and the relationships they have with others, so they need to be professionally treated by a mental health professional.

Complications of dissociative disorders

Treatment is a very important part of the healing process. Without this, a person suffering from dissociative disorder runs the risk of many complications, such as difficulty in creating meaningful relationships with people or feeling part of a community, problems with maintaining a normal sleep schedule (insomnia), developing eating behavior. disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, substance abuse (drug use, alcoholism) and, in extreme cases, self-harm, including suicide. nine0005

Mental health has a strong influence on how we behave in society, on our feelings and outlook on life. It affects how we respond to stressful situations, how we form social bonds and make important life decisions. At the same time, mental health is of great importance for our physical health. Stress and mental disorders can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and eating disorders such as obesity or anorexia. nine0005

Fun Fact - Dissociation in chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacology

Dissociation is also the process of splitting molecules or ionic compounds into smaller molecules, atoms or ions; in most cases the process is reversible. General dissociation equation: AB ßà A+B. It is not defined as a chemical reaction and is the opposite of association and recombination since the process is usually reversible. For example, a complex dissociates into its constituent molecules, and a salt dissociates into its constituent ions. nine0005

The dissociation constant (Kd) is calculated as the ratio of dissociated to undissociated compound and is defined as a specific equilibrium constant that measures the propensity of a larger object to dissociate. This is the inverse association constant.

The acid dissociation constant (Ka) indicated the strength of that particular acid in solution. In most cases, the value of Ka is expressed as pKa, which is calculated using the formula pka=-log10Ka. Using this value, we can determine the strength of the acid (a value between -2 and 12 indicates a weak acid in water, while an acid with a pKa value of less than -2 is considered strong. The percentage of dissociation is calculated by dividing the mass of dissociated ions by the total mass of dissociated and an undissociated compound For example, acetic acid (Ch4COOH) partially dissociates into acetate and hydrogen ions in a reversible process having a pKa value of 4.74, which means it is a weak acid.0005

The dissociation energy of the bond between two elements A and B that breaks after the dissociation process is described as the change in enthalpy of the standard state for the procedure at a given temperature.

The Oxygen-Hemoglobin Dissociation Curve, also known as the Oxyhemoglobin Dissociation Curve or the Oxygen Dissociation Curve (ODC), is defined as “a curve that plots the proportion of hemoglobin in its saturated form on the vertical axis versus the prevailing oxygen tension on the horizontal axis.

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