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Resources for Dissociative Disorders: Home

                                                                                                                                                 Abstract Word Cloud For Dissociative Disorder With Related Tags And Terms  Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 16602446.

The following guide is for informational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or give medical advice.

What are Dissociative Disorders?

Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. Dissociative disorders usually develop as a reaction to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay.

(Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355215)

Types of Dissociative Disorders

  • Dissociative Amnesia
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder)
  • Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder

(Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355215)

Symptoms of Dissociative Disorders

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. There are three types:

  • Localized. This is where people cannot remember events from a specific time period.
  • Generalized. This is a complete loss of memory, including things like identity and life history. It’s very rare.
  • Fugue. In dissociative fugue people forget most or all of their personal information and may wander or travel to places they wouldn’t usually go. In longer-lasting cases, they may even take on a whole new identity.

Dissociative Identity Disorder

  • Two or more distinct identities or personality states are present, each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self. Each may have a unique name, personal history, and characteristics.
  • Amnesia must occur, defined as gaps in the recall of everyday events, important personal information, and/or traumatic events.

Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder

  • Disconnected from your thoughts, feelings and body (depersonalization).
  • Disconnected from your surroundings or environment (derealization).
  • Feeling like a robot or that you're not in control of your speech or movements.
  • As if you’re observing yourself from outside your body, for example, as if you were floating in air above yourself.
  • As if you’re living in a dream world.
  • The sense that your body, legs or arms appear distorted, enlarged or shrunken, or that your head is wrapped in cotton.
  • Emotional or physical numbness of your senses or responses to the world around you.
  • A sense that your memories lack emotion, and that they may or may not be your own memories.
  • Depressed, anxious, panicky, or like you’re going crazy.

(Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355215; Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/dissociative-amnesia#types; WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder; Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9791-depersonalizationderealization-disorder; Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depersonalization-derealization-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352911)

Treatments for Dissociative Disorders

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the primary treatment for dissociative disorders. This form of therapy, also known as talk therapy, counseling or psychosocial therapy, involves talking about your disorder and related issues with a mental health professional.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

It’s based on the idea that negative actions or feelings are the results of current distorted beliefs or thoughts, not unconscious forces from the past. CBT is a blend of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses on your moods and thoughts. Behavioral therapy specifically targets actions and behaviors.

Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT focuses on teaching coping skills to combat destructive urges, regulate emotions and improve relationships while adding validation. Involving individual and group work, DBT encourages practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation, regulated breathing and self-soothing.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. It combines the CBT techniques of re-learning thought patterns with visual stimulation exercises to access traumatic memories and replace the associated negative beliefs with positive ones.

(Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355221; NAMI, https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Dissociative-Disorders/Treatment)

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McFarlin Databases about Health

For a comprehensive list of McFarlin databases consult our A-Z Database List. Databases may require you sign into the library system before viewing; you will be automatically prompted if a login is necessary.

Getting Help

You may want to get help for a dissociative disorder if it lasts for a long period of time or begins to interfere with your ability to function, such as eat, study, and have fun. TU has counselors who would love to help you.

This site provides information about and contact information for TU's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

If you are having a mental health crisis, the following sites provide help: