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Dissociative Disorders

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  • Dissociative Disorders

    Dissociative disorders are characterized by an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. People from all age groups and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds can experience a dissociative disorder.

    It is estimated that 2% of people experience dissociative disorders, with women being more likely than men to be diagnosed. Almost half of adults in the United States experience at least one depersonalization/derealization episode in their lives, with only 2% meeting the full criteria for chronic episodes.

  • Dissociative Disorders

    Symptoms:

    • Significant memory loss of specific times, people and events
    • Out-of-body experiences, such as feeling as though you are watching a movie of yourself
    • Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide
    • A sense of detachment from your emotions, or emotional numbness
    • A lack of a sense of self-identity

    Diagnosis:

    Doctors diagnose dissociative disorders based on a review of symptoms and personal history. A doctor may perform tests to rule out physical conditions that can cause symptoms such as memory loss and a sense of unreality (for example, head injury, brain lesions or tumors, sleep deprivation or intoxication). If physical causes are ruled out, a mental health specialist is often consulted to make an evaluation.

  • Dissociative Disorders

    Possible Treatment:

    • Psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
    • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
    • Medications such as antidepressants can treat symptoms of related conditions

    Statistics:

    An estimated 2000 children die each year of abuse. Head trauma is the most common cause of death from physical abuse. Intra-abdominal injuries from impacts are the second most common cause of death. Girls experience childhood sexual abuse more commonly than boys, with a female-to-male ratio of 10:1. Girls, more than boys, are most at risk for sexual abuse. In 1991, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System indicated that 24% of 838,232 reports were for physical abuse and that 7% of children who were abused were younger than 1 year, 27% were younger than 4 years, and 28% were aged 4-8 years. The rate of reports decreases for older children. Early age at onset was also correlated with a higher degree of dissociation.

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