Understanding Dissociative Disorders: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Understanding Dissociative

for Mental Health

Dissociative disorders are mental health conditions that cause disruptions in the ability to process memories, emotions, and identity. People who experience dissociative disorders may feel disconnected from their environment, memories and/or selves, causing significant discomfort and impairments in daily functioning. Although dissociative disorders are not typically discussed as commonly as depression and anxiety, they can be equally as serious and debilitating.

What Causes Dissociative Disorders?

The exact causes of dissociative disorders are not known. However, it is believed that they are likely caused by a combination of factors including traumatic events, psychological issues, and/or neurological abnormalities. Traumatic experiences, such as physical or psychological abuse, could trigger dissociative symptoms. Moreover, underlying psychological problems, such as low self-esteem, could be a factor in developing dissociative symptoms. Neurochemical imbalances in the brain could also play a role in the development of dissociative disorders.

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What Are the Symptoms of Dissociative Disorders?

The symptoms of dissociative disorders can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include changes in memory, identity, and behavior. Examples of symptoms can include:

  • Amnesia or gaps in memory for certain events
  • Depersonalization, or feeling detached from oneself
  • Derealization, or feeling disconnected from reality
  • Disoriented feeling
  • Feelings of being “spaced out” or numb
  • Mood swings or changes in behavior
  • Outbursts of anger or rage
  • Problems with concentration and focus
  • Sudden changes in personality
  • Sudden changes in mood

What Are the Treatments for Dissociative Disorders?

Dissociative disorders can be treated with a combination of therapies and medications. Psychotherapy is an effective treatment option that can help people gain insight into their symptoms and learn coping skills to manage their symptoms. Additionally, medications such as antidepressants and antianxiety medications can be used to reduce symptoms associated with dissociative disorders.

The most important thing to remember is that someone experiencing dissociative symptoms should seek professional help to get treatment. Mental health professionals can provide the right treatment to help a person manage and overcome the symptoms of dissociative disorders.


Dissociative disorders can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. Although the exact causes of dissociative disorders are not fully understood, it is believed that a combination of psychological, neurological, and traumatic factors may be involved. Treatment for dissociative disorders typically includes psychotherapy, medications and other emotional support. With proper treatment, individuals can learn to gain insight into the causes of their symptoms and develop the skills to manage them.

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