Dissociative disorder is a mental health illness that affects a person’s memory, identity perception, behavior, emotion, and sense of self. The disorder has a significant effect in almost all areas of a person’s mental function. When one is experiencing self-detachment and memory loss, the person is then suffering from dissociative disorder. Trauma experienced from the past can cause the development of this disorder.
Dissociative Disorder: Identity Disorder, Amnesia, And Depersonalization Disorder
Sidran Institute (Towson, MD) describes dissociation as the disconnection of a person’s memories, feelings, thoughts, and actions. (The institute also helps people further understand everything about the mental health illness.) As mentioned, dissociative disorder is related to past, traumatic and overwhelming experiences. This was then referred to as the Multiple Personality Disorder.
Dissociative Disorder: Signs And Symptoms
The person suffering from dissociative disorder has more than one personal identity. These identities come in with changed behavior, thinking, and memory. Such symptom is observable by other people around the person with the illness.
Symptoms can then cause problems on a person’s daily association with other people and have a significant effect on his work and personal relationships. It is also NOT a normal phenomenon despite cultural differences. There are cases wherein some countries consider this a standard spiritual practice. But in medical science, this is regarded as a severe mental health problem.
People with the disorder display preferences and attitude that shift back and forth all the time. The person has no control over them. As a result, the patient experiences stress. He will also become obsessed with his body (which feels different to the person at times). Even with their speech way and style, it’s different from one identity to another.
Sidran Institute psychiatrists and mental health professionals state that in time, a person with such disorder has this feeling that he has more than one identity. Each identity has its personality, perception and even memories. These personalities are entirely different from each other. Still, it is important to note that it’s from the same person. The separate identities created are called “alternate personalities,” “identities”, “states of consciousness” and “alters.”
The extent of this disorder can range from minimal to significantly disturbing. People experiencing this illness usually try to address it immediately to reduce the impact and effects of its symptoms.
Fact: “Although brain imaging is being used to help us better understand psychiatric disorders, they are not currently being utilized for diagnostic purposes.” – Colleen Cullen, PsyD
People traumatized by sexual and physical abuse, especially in their childhood years, have the most chance of getting this disorder. Those who get raped multiple times, get beaten a lot, and are exposed to traumatic situations are highly at risk of developing the illness. Self-destruction and even suicidal thoughts and attempts are common for people with dissociative disorder, according to Sidran Institute experts.
Dissociative Disorder Treatment
Sidran Institute suggests and recommends various ways to heal from this mental health disorder. With proper care and early medical intervention, people with dissociative disorder have high chances of overcoming the condition. They improve significantly over time which enables them to function normally and even live a productive life if the disorder has not permanently damaged their cognitive performance.
The usual treatment for dissociative disorder is psychotherapy. Therapy helps those with the illness to take control of themselves once the disorder occurs. If possible, psychotherapy may help people limit their symptoms. The specific goal of therapy is to help address the different aspects of the identities. Treatment programs used are cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and hypnosis.
Experts do not recommend medication to address the disorder directly. But some medicines can be prescribed to treat some symptoms of the said condition. They should be used with caution, though.
According to Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, “Practitioners can assist clients through therapies.” If you believe you are suffering from a mental health-related issue, make sure to try therapy or counseling as soon as possible.
If you know someone who has a disassociate disorder, make sure to remind him to become mindful in times of feeling anxiety. According to Ron Siegel, PsyD, “Once you’ve got some anxiety going, just breathe, and feel it. Notice how it feels throughout the body.”