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.
There are three types of dissociative disorders defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Dissociative Amnesia, the main symptom is difficulty remembering important information about one’s self. Depersonalization disorder, this disorder involves ongoing feelings of detachment from actions, feelings, thoughts and sensations as if they are watching a movie. Dissociative identity disorder, this disorder is characterized by alternating between multiple identities.
The symptoms of a dissociative disorder usually first develop as a response to a traumatic event, such as abuse or military combat, to keep those memories under control. Stressful situations can worsen symptoms and cause problems with functioning in everyday activities. Doctors diagnose dissociative disorders based on a review of symptoms and personal history.
Dissociative disorders are managed through various therapies including 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. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications or antipsychotic medications are prescribed to help control the mental health symptoms associated with dissociative disorders.