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Future Health

Dissociative Disorders

July 10, 2023 

Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions, and identity. With this disorder, people escape reality in a way that is involuntary and unhealthy. It may cause problems with functioning in everyday life. They usually develop as a trauma reaction to keep the difficult memories at bay. Symptoms can range from amnesia to alternate identities – it all depends on the type of dissociative disorder you have. The following symptoms are dependent on which dissociative disorder you have.

  • Memory loss of certain time periods, events, people and personal information

  • A sense of being detached from yourself and your emotions

  • A perception of the people and things around you as distorted and unreal

  • Inability to cope well with emotional or professional stress

  • Mental health problems, such as depression anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors

There are three major dissociative disorders. They are:

Dissociative amnesia – The main symptom for this type is memory loss that is more severe than normal forgetfulness. You can’t recall information about yourself or events and people in your life. It can be specific to a certain time. An episode of amnesia usually occurs suddenly and can last minutes, hours, or even rarely months or years.

Dissociative identity disorder – This type is formerly known as multiple personality disorder, which is the disorder that is characterized by a person “switching” to alternate identities. You may feel the presence of two or more people talking inside your head. Sometimes the person feels possessed by the other identities. Each identity has its own characteristics, voice, gender, mannerisms, and sometimes even physical qualities. Typically, people with this type also have dissociative amnesia and dissociative fatigue.

Depersonalization-derealization disorder – When it comes to this type, it involves ongoing or episodic sense of detachment or being outside yourself. This means that you are observing your actions, feelings, thoughts, and self from a distance, as if it was a movie (depersonalization). For others, time may slow down or speed up, and the world may seem unreal (derealization). You can experience depersonalization, derealization or both. The symptoms may last for a few moments, or they can come and go for many years.