Dissociative Disorders

Facts About Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorders are characterized by an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. People from all age groups and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds can experience a dissociative disorder.

Up to 75% of people experience at least one depersonalization/derealization episode in their lives, with only 2% meeting the full criteria for chronic episodes. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with a dissociative disorder.

Symptoms of Dissociative Disorders

The symptoms of a dissociative disorder usually first develop as a response to a traumatic event, such as abuse or military combat, to keep those memories under control. Stressful situations can worsen symptoms and cause problems with functioning in everyday activities. However, the symptoms a person experiences will depend on the type of dissociative disorder that a person has.

Symptoms and signs of dissociative disorders include:

  • Significant memory loss of specific times, people and events
  • Out-of-body experiences, such as feeling as though you are watching a movie of yourself
  • Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide
  • A sense of detachment from your emotions, or emotional numbness
  • A lack of a sense of self-identity

Treatment and Support for Those with Dissociative Disorders and Their Families

Treatment for dissociative disorders often involves psychotherapy and medication. Though finding an effective treatment plan can be difficult, many people are able to live healthy and productive lives.

We also recommend our NAMI support groups and classes for those living with mental health conditions, as well as their families and loved ones; find a local support group run by a California affiliate.

More from NAMI National’s website.

Community Voices

Stories and posts about living with or being impacted by dissociative disorders coming soon. Telling personal stories of recovery can be one of the most effective ways to diminish stigma and help individuals and families who are facing challenges related to mental health conditions. Submit your story for consideration.