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4 Top Coping Techniques and Best Treatment Plans for Dissociative Disorder

Dissociative disorder is a mental health disorder in which an individual who has lived experience of it has no longer connected with self or reality. It is safe to say someone with a dissociative disorder is delusional.

People with dissociative disorder create multiple personalities to have a connection with something that will make them think they are communicating with something real. In most cases, these multiple personalities are created voluntarily or involuntarily.

I once watched a video about a 32-year-old woman who had nine personalities. These personalities include herself as a teacher, a young black American girl who was 14, a small boy who was nine years old, and an old professor who was in the medical field. I can’t remember the rest of the personalities.

During the interview, she said she was raped by her stepfather, and she became so helpless, that she had to disconnect herself from the pain of being raped and create these personalities that will help her feel loved again.

She also said that during the rape episode, she just assumed that she was one of the personalities, and then after the episode, she didn't feel any pain or emotion at all.

Dissociative disorder patients remove themselves from painful experiences and stop feeling any emotions by removing themselves from reality and creating personalities that are not there but will serve as a support system for them to heal.

Causes Of Dissociation Disorder

Dissociation disorder can make your family and friends look like strangers to you. Your memory about your lifestyle can wipe out like a clean slate. Sometimes you feel like you are going crazy. Most people with such disorders start having them as early as childhood.

If you are still having stress responses as an adult, this can lead to impaired awareness of thoughts, emotions, actions, and even physical activity.

The most common causes of dissociation disorder are trauma, stress disorder, depression, and anxiety disorder which has not been treated for a long time. Other causes include:

  • Concussions from sports injuries

  • Photo-sensitive epilepsy

  • Rape

  • Stroke

  • Grief disorder

Dissociative Disorders and Their Types

Dissociative illnesses can be categorized into three groups. These three disorders fall within the spectrum of severity, that is, they are grouped based on how intense the dissociative disorder is. The types include:

  • Depersonalization/derealization disorder: depersonalization refers to a feeling of detachment from oneself, while derealization is the feeling that the world around you is not real. People with this type of disorder feel their lives are like a movie, and they are not part of it. They have a weak sense of self. They have trouble recognizing places or objects. Other symptoms include altering time and not being able to complete tasks.

  • Amnesia disorder: this disorder is when a person blocks out personal information; examples include where they were schooled, how many siblings they had, their name, or their parent's name. They can also have trouble remembering traumatic events (localized amnesia), not remember anything from their past (generalized amnesia), forget about a particular part of a traumatic experience (systematic amnesia), or forget new events as they happen (continuous amnesia).

  • Dissociative identity disorder: This is when someone takes on the character of another person. This could be informed by hearing the other character and speaking to them; this is called convert dissociative identity disorder. Another form of dissociative identity disorder is when an individual takes on two or more identities; this is called overt dissociative identity disorder.

Dissociative Disorder Signs

The dissociation disorder episode starts in childhood, and most children who are experiencing this type of disorder conclude that nobody will understand, so they do not talk about it until they have an episode during adulthood, and it is beginning to affect their daily activities or they are suicidal.

Here are the symptoms that you are experiencing a dissociative disorder:

  • You will feel like an alien with your body

  • There will be a glass door between you and the world.

  • You will feel alone and not be part of anything around you

  • You will feel suddenly small

  • Panicking over something that is not real

  • Not feeling any form of emotion

  • Cannot keep up a conversation

  • Have physical stress engaging with people or things

  • Floating away

  • Feeling numb

Coping Mechanism

Using saturated colours to create a good mood can help retain your attention for a while. It is better to use colours like bright yellow, light green, sky blue, etc. to help uplift your mood.

Do breathing exercises with your therapist so they can notice when you are dissociating. Breathing exercises can help steady your mood and keep you in the present.

Another coping mechanism is to speak up when you are in a conversation with someone that you are dissociating from. This will make them stop the conversation, and you both can just be present in silence. The silence will help you come back to reality.

Sometimes setting up alarms and using sticky notes to help remember when you zone out can also help. The sticky notes should have lots of bright colours, and you should write them every day when you are alert.

Treatment Plan

During setting up a treatment plan that will help an individual with dissociative disorder, mental health professionals help the person figure out the cause of the dissociation along with the dissociative obstacle. This way, the individual gets to deal with the problem.

If an individual has great knowledge of the causes of dissociative disorder, it can be easy for the person to speak of how they feel.

You will be given medication for anxiety, depression, and blood pressure regulation. This medication helps manage your mood and makes you alert. It will help you be in the present

Your therapist can do Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which involves eye movements that make you concentrate on the present. This eye movement helps individuals with dissociative disorder process their traumatic experiences.

Use of CBT that will help you walk through pain full of memories (childhood trauma). Trauma-based cognitive behavioural therapy deals with the causes of dissociative disorders like stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.

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