Dissociative disorder is a mental condition in which a person’s feelings, emotions, perceptions, and thoughts are disconnected from reality.
The individual may feel as if the world is unreal and lose track of their identity. Dissociative disorder is often a response to a traumatic situation.
Symptoms range from mild to severe, and depend on the type of dissociative disorder. Stressful situations worsen the symptoms, and this can affect everyday life.
Psychotherapy and medications are the treatment methods for controlling dissociative disorders.
Although a complete cure for the condition is hard, treatment strategies help to improve the quality of life.
Some of the most common symptoms of dissociative disorder include
Loss of memory about certain events, time, or people
Mental problems like depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts
Emotional numbness or feeling disconnected from one’s emotions
Lack of self-identity
Feeling disconnected from the real world
American Psychiatric Association classifies dissociative disorders into three types:
Dissociative amnesia – people tend to have memory loss that cannot be explained by any other medical condition. The amnesia is mostly about oneself or an event, particularly of a traumatic event. The event may be a military or intense combat, or abuse. The onset of symptom is usually sudden and the memory loss episode may last for minutes, hours, days, and in some rare cases, years.
Depersonalization disorder – in this type of dissociative disorder, the person feel disconnected from one’s feelings, thoughts, and perceptions, as if watching a movie. This is called depersonalization. Some people feel that others or things around themselves are unreal, a condition called as derealization. Some people may have symptoms of both depersonalization and derealization. The episodes may remain for a few minutes or return several times over the years.
Dissociative identity disorder – this condition is characterized by switching to an alternate identity. Earlier known as multiple personality disorder, the patient may feel as if there is more than one personalities in a body. The two identities are different in their name, history, mannerisms, and characteristics. They usually have dissociative amnesia also.
Awareness that depersonalization and derealization is not reality
Symptoms that cannot be explained by any other medical condition or alcohol abuse
Symptoms affect relationships, work, and daily activities
Psychotherapy or counseling is a proven treatment method for correcting issues in dissociative disorders.
In this method the patient talks about the disorder with a mental health expert. The counselor helps the patient to develop new ways of coping with the condition and to understand the cause of the condition. Once the person has achieved the coping skills, he/she is encouraged to speak more about the trauma that caused the disorder.
Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medications help to control the symptoms of the disorder. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) helps to reduce the symptoms of the condition. It is considered to process the traumatic memories so they have less memories of the event.
The only way to prevent dissociative disorders is to avoid traumatic events or occurrences, and sometimes this is simply impossible.
Children who are exposed to physical, sexual and emotional abuse have a high risk of developing dissociative disorder.
Talking to mental health experts, support groups, and family therapists help to reduce the impact of the symptoms.
They help to teach the child better coping mechanisms and methods to recover from the condition.
7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies
Anacardium, Medorrhinum, Natrum muriaticum, Phosphorus, Staphysagria, Thuja are the common homeopathic remedies for controlling symptoms of dissociative disorders.
A range of herbal remedies are used to control this condition, but many of them lack scientific evidence. St John’s wort, kava, and vitamin E supplementation are some of the herbal supplementations used in regulating symptoms of mental disorder.
8 Lifestyle and Coping
Having a supportive family is very essential for the person to cope with dissociative disorder.
Support groups help to understand the condition better.
9 Risks and Complications
People with dissociative disorder have increased risk of having other mental conditions like:
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