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.
Addressing 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.
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.
Formerly known as “multiple personality disorder,” dissociative identity disorder may be triggered by stress and exhibited when the patient switches between different personalities, according to the Mayo Clinic. These personalities are completely different personas and some patients say that the different personalities live and talk inside their head, coming out based on different triggers. Each personality or identity may have its own likes and dislikes, a name, mannerisms, a past, and may or may not be cognizant of the other personalities and/or the patient.It is important to note that dissociative identity disorder may co-occur with dissociative amnesia and is most likely caused by traumatic events, usually events that occur during childhood. Vastly different from dementia or schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder requires very specialized treatment.
Those with dissociative fugue put distance between themselves and their identity, according to a study published in Psychological Reports [1999 Jun;84(3 Pt 1):881-6]. Fugue episodes occur when an individual acts, thinks and identifies as someone other than himself. Someone suffering from dissociative fugue disorder can slip in and out of episodes and may or may not recognize that they are taking on different identities and blending into their surroundings as someone else. The episodes usually last a few hours but, in some cases, they can last for months.It is noteworthy that dissociative fugue disorder is not related to other disorders, such as dementia or disillusion.
Depersonalization disorder is a disorder in which you feel completely separate from your body and mind, disconnected entirely from your actions and words. Those who suffer from the disorder tend to feel as if they are watching themselves go through life and are disconnected emotionally from their experience.For most people, the symptoms are fleeting; they experience depersonalization disorder in brief moments. Generally speaking, there are times in nearly every person’s life where they will experience some form of depersonalization disorder; these moments usually come following dramatic or traumatic events. However, when the symptoms persist, they can be treated, often using pharmacological treatments as outlined in a study published in Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics [2008 Jan;8(1):19-26].
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].
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:
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:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy+
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+
Try Different Therapies+
Stick to Your Treatment Plan+
Don’t Give Up+
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.