You lived through trauma, and there are certain times when you’re numb from the memories and feel like you’re detached from your body and the world around you. Sometimes, you’re sad for days and have trouble sleeping. If these symptoms continue, you may be experiencing dissociation. But help is available.
WHAT IS DISSOCIATION?
Many people may feel dissociation during their lives. If this happens to you, you can feel separated from the world around you and yourself. For example, you could feel physically detached from yourself and feel that the world surrounding you is fake. This is sometimes how the mind deals with stress, like from a traumatic experience. Dissociation can last anywhere from hours to months. Long-term symptoms could be indicative of a dissociative disorder.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, “Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.”
Some kinds of depression are different for everyone and respond accordingly to treatment like psychotherapy or ketamine.
WHAT TRIGGERS DISSOCIATION?
It’s not unusual for triggers to be generalized, particularly when discussed for wide swaths of the population. But common triggers for dissociation may include:
- You feel like you’re being ignored
- Aggressive behavior
- Intense lighting
- Certain colors
- Large crowds
- Being asked to complete a form
- Few options or choices
- Having to wait a long time for services
- Lost privileges
- Loud or sudden noises
- Certain odors
- Someone not believing you
- Symbols and images
WHAT ARE DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS?
“Dissociative disorders involve problems with memory, identity, emotion, perception, behavior and sense of self. Dissociative symptoms can potentially disrupt every area of mental functioning.”
Patterns of dissociative symptoms can be feelings of detachment or feeling like you’re outside your body, amnesia, and having a general problem remembering things. Dissociative disorders are commonly related to a previous traumatic experience.
Researchers and medical professionals have identified three kinds of dissociative disorders:
IS DISSOCIATION A SYMPTOM OF DEPRESSION?
“Dissociative disorders usually develop as a reaction to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay. Symptoms — ranging from amnesia to alternate identities — depend in part on the type of dissociative disorder you have. Times of stress can temporarily worsen symptoms, making them more obvious.”
If this sounds like depression, you’re right. Though dissociation isn’t often named as a leading symptom of depression, the two have symptoms that are strangely related.
- Suffering from amnesia (memory loss) for specific time periods, people, events, and personal information
- You feel as if you’re detached from your emotions and yourself
- You perceive things and people around you as if they’re distorted and unreal
- A vague idea of identity
- Substantial problems or stress in personal or work relationships or other essential facets of your life
- You don’t cope well with professional or emotional anxiety
- You may be susceptible to mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, and often think of suicide or exhibit dangerous behaviors
- Sadness or depressed moods
- You’re not interested in things you used to enjoy doing
- Your appetite fluctuates, and you gain or lose weight as a result
- Sleep problems
- Low energy
- Slowed speech or movement noticeable by others
- You engage in meaningless physical activity (you can’t sit still, you pace incessantly, write without meaning) that’s noticeable by others
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Problems thinking, focusing, or making decisions
- Preoccupied with death or suicide
Many symptoms of either can be treated with psychotherapy or ketamine infusion.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
- A physical exam. During the examination, your doctor asks thorough questions and reviews your symptoms and medical history. You may undergo certain tests to zero in on specific causes, like a head injury, specific brain diseases, sleep deficiency, or intoxication, which may lead to symptoms like memory loss or other symptoms.
- A psychiatric exam to uncover your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and personal and family history of mental illness.
- Comparing your symptoms to diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5.
Once you’ve been diagnosed, your healthcare provider may recommend a different treatment, like psychotherapy, certain medication, or ketamine infusion.
If you experience dissociation symptoms, you know how the feelings can affect your life. You may have trouble functioning each day and find yourself slipping into depression. But help is available. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you find relief.