Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative Disorders Treatment

Dissociative disorders are a hot topic of debate in the medical community; approximately one percent of the US population suffers from some form of a personality disorder. According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry [2006 Apr;163(4):623-9], the true number of patients living with one of the types of dissociative disorders may even be higher. The effects of the disorder destroy not only the sufferer but those around them as well. The good news is that there are effective dissociative disorders treatment options that can provide treatment for the disease and for the family.

Dissociative disorder treatment is primarily made up of different types of psychotherapy. The stress associated with the disorder can often be relieved by discussing with a therapist the specific issues that are causing the patient problems in his day-to-day life and coming up with actionable plans that he can follow on a step-by-step basis. Coping skills that are applicable in multiple situations are also discussed and provided to the patient as an option.

A variety of different types of therapy have been shown to be beneficial to those diagnosed with dissociative disorder, such as hypnosis, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, experiential and creative therapies, and holistic treatments.

Dissociative Disorders TreatmentAddressing negative and unhealthy views and perspectives that inform reactions and daily experience is also a large part of the process. Though patients may not be able to change the stressful events that occur, they do have the power to change how they react. Creative and experiential therapies can help the patient to open up and explore unspoken feelings about the world and past events. Holistic treatments like yoga and acupuncture can aid in the release of emotions and memories related to those events.

Medication, too, may be included in dissociative disorder treatment. No medications are specifically designed to treat the disorder, but there is a number of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications that can help control the panic and anxiety or depression symptoms often associated with dissociative disorder.

If you are ready to address the issues you are living with and find dissociative disorder treatment that will work for you, contact us today.

The Four Types of Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorders are a spectrum made up of four different mental health conditions that are all characterized by the common symptom of dissociation. This occurs when there is an interruption in someone’s normal waking consciousness affecting their memory, identity or perceptions of their surroundings. These disruptions cause the individual to dissociate and take on a new personality (sometimes numerous personalities). Each of these types of dissociative disorders can be treated at a mental health treatment facility.

Perhaps the most common dissociative disorder is dissociative amnesia. This version of the disorder causes frequent memory loss most often associated with traumatic events (e.g., a car accident, a sudden death in the family, sexual abuse and others), according to the Cleveland Clinic. Many people who suffer from dissociative amnesia disorder are inadvertently protecting themselves from the stress and trauma of an event they do not wish to recall.


Each of the dissociative disorders are believed to be a phenomenon caused by repeated severe trauma and/or neglect experienced in childhood, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. The dissociation that occurs is a coping mechanism on the part of the psyche of the traumatized individual. During traumatic episodes, an individual dissociates themselves from the situation because it is too painful to have a conscious memory.

However, this protective psychological mechanism can turn into a disorder in need of mental health treatment as an adult.


Each form of dissociative disorder is different and comes with its own set of symptoms. In general, common symptoms may include “snapping out of it” when the patient realizes that they are performing an activity or having a conversation but with no memory of having started the task, memory loss that blacks out minutes or hours of time, or the feeling that they are able to watch themselves from a distance with no control over their actions. Loved ones and those close to the patient may recognize different personalities when they come out, detecting changes in voice, attitude, and shifts in perspective, according to a study published in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease [1995 Apr;183(4):236-41].

Dissociative Disorders Signs

Types of Treatment

The average person in need of dissociative disorder treatment spends seven years in the mental health system before they receive the correct diagnosis, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. This is because most people with this disorder seamlessly move from one personality to another. Dissociative disorder has aspects of many other mental health issues and those with the condition also simultaneously experience depression, anxiety or panic disorder. Both inpatient and outpatient care can be effective, depending upon the individual circumstances:

Outpatient Care+

Outpatient Care: The most common form of treatment for dissociative disorders is outpatient treatment. These programs combine different types of medication and psychological treatment to create an individualized treatment program that speaks to the patient’s specific disorder and how it manifests for them personally. Patients have the freedom to continue working and spend time with family at home as they go through treatment.

Inpatient Treatment+

Inpatient Treatment: In many cases, inpatient treatment is the best and most effective plan. Residential treatment means full-time attention to healing. This gives time for medications to take effect in a safe environment and allows for learning about the illness and identifying the specific issues that the patient may be experiencing. Learning how to cope with dissociative disorder is one of the most difficult aspects of treatment and this is better accomplished when patients have access to 24-hour support and care at an inpatient treatment center.

Once the correct diagnosis is found, dissociative disorder is a highly treatable condition if a person is willing to put in the hard work of delving into the past and dealing with their past trauma. Dissociative disorder responds well to a variety of treatment options and often the best results come from a combination of the following therapies:


Psychotherapy: Also known as “talk therapy,” this is the principal treatment for dissociative disorders. This type of therapy entails discussing the patient’s personal history and mental health condition with a qualified psychotherapist. Often hypnotherapy must be used to help the patient remember the repressed traumatic memories .The patient and therapist will work together to understand the root cause of the dissociative behavior. Once the causes are understood, healthy coping strategies can be developed for the individual to utilize when facing stressful situations in the future.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy+

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This is another form of talk therapy. The basis of this dissociative disorder treatment is that an individual’s own thoughts determine their behavior rather than the cause falling to external people or situations. This gives the ultimate control to change to the patient because even if a negative situation has not changed, they can think about it differently and learn to behave in a positive manner.

Art Therapy+

Art Therapy: This type of therapy helps individuals that have difficulty expressing their thoughts and emotions. Art therapy can make use of several different creative arenas including acting, art, music, dance and poetry. These creative tools can help a patient become more aware of their feelings and motivations. These different creative techniques can act as a coping mechanism for both past trauma and future stresses.


Medication: A variety of medications may be prescribed during dissociative disorder treatment to help relieve symptoms. There isn’t one primary medication used to treat the condition. However, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and tranquilizers are all possible prescriptions used during the course of dissociative disorder treatment.

Strategies for Successful Treatment

It often takes quite a long time and persistence on the part of the patient to effectively address the underlying trauma and issues associated with dissociative disorders. Here are some strategies for success recommended to patients who are ready to get the most out of treatment.

Keep an Open Mind+

Keep an Open Mind: Patients are often presented with ideas or perspectives that conflict with their own during treatment. In many cases, that is the goal of the exercise. Even if you are not yet ready to accept the view as the “right” way to look at things, it is always important to keep an open mind. Therapy is about change. No one expects you to change your views 180 degrees in the course of a single session, but keeping an open mind means that you may be able to embrace a view that will allow you to be more happy and balanced in your life.

Try Different Therapies+

Try Different Therapies: Creative therapies, such as art therapy, psychodrama, cinema therapy and cooking therapy, can provide patients with the opportunity to explore new ways of looking at things and expressing themselves. Talk therapies and working with a psychotherapist gives you a sounding board for discussing the things that happened to you in your life, traumas and hardships that may have triggered or caused the current issues with dissociative disorders. There are a number of different types of therapies provided by therapists, including CBT and hypnosis. If you are unsure about either, don’t be. Open your mind and take a chance. Give it more than a single session. Even if one therapy doesn’t seem to help, the next one may be more successful based on the work you did in early sessions with other therapies.

Stick to Your Treatment Plan+

Stick to Your Treatment Plan: With your therapist, you will come up with a treatment plan that addresses the specific issues you experience with dissociative disorder. This will likely include medication, different types of therapies and step-by-step plans that you can put into action when you experience different issues or situations. Stick to this plan. If it doesn’t work for you and you wish to abandon all or part of it, bring it up during your next session so your therapist can assist you with coming up with alternatives.

Don’t Give Up+

Don’t Give Up: Dissociative disorders are not easy to live with and their treatment is not simple, either. You often have to work through painful traumas like sexual abuse, divorce and the loss of a loved one to get to the root cause of the problem. When it gets difficult – and it will get difficult – don’t give up. Stay the course and you’ll find that the quality of your life will improve with each passing week.

Overcoming Dissociative Disorder With Proper Treatment

If a dissociative disorder is causing problems in your life, there is hope. Give us a call today and we can direct you to a variety of high-quality dissociative disorder treatment programs. We have connections with both high-caliber inpatient and outpatient centers so you can have access to a program that meets your individual needs. Don’t let your past interrupt your present for one more day. Contact us today and take the first step towards leaving your past behind you.