People with dissociative disorders experience an involuntary disconnect with reality, usually in response to psychological trauma or memories of past traumatic events. Some of the ways they escape reality is through selective amnesia, developing alters (or alternative identities), losing identity, and other coping mechanisms.
Studies show that more than 70% of people experience one or more episodes of a dissociative disorder, but only 2% of the U.S population experience persistent dissociative disorders.
Other symptoms may include suicidal ideation, self-mutilation, and self-harm. Dissociative disorders may create challenges in social settings, an inability to cope with stress, and other health problems such as anxiety and depression.
The 3 main types of dissociative disorders are:
This disorder causes short term or long term memory loss about a particular event, or one’s own history or identity.
This disorder is identified by switching between two or more alternative personalities, each having its own identity, including mannerisms, preferences, memories, and often individual names.
This disorder is identified by a feeling of detachment from one’s own body, mind and self. They feel depersonalized from their identity. When they feel detached from other people around them and their surroundings it’s called derealization
Although there are no medications that can cure dissociative disorders, antidepressants are sometimes prescribed for treating associated symptoms.
Various formats of therapy have been shown to be effective in treating dissociative disorders including:
Opinions are varied regarding hypnosis as a treatment, however it still remains an effective diagnosis as well as a treatment of dissociative disorders. Hypnosis can aid diagnosis by facilitating switching between personalities and in treatment by helping to reintegrate the personalities.
Conventional talk therapy has been shown to be the most effective treatment for dissociative disorders by helping patients reprocess past traumatic experiences in a supportive safe space, and then helping them to reintegrate their identities.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on negative thought patterns that are related to the patient’s dissociative disorders, and by replacing them with realistic, or positive thoughts and beliefs.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy helps dissociative disorder patients to learn how to manage overwhelming emotions by using techniques such as mindfulness practices and emotion regulation.
Specialists using EMDR therapy stimulate a dissociative disorder patient’s traumatic thoughts at the same time as physical actions such as focusing on eye movements. This process can help alleviate stress caused by painful thoughts and memories while helping the patients reprocess them.
While Dissociative Disorders can be debilitating, seeking treatment and supportive communities can help reduce dissociative episodes. Having a good diet, sleeping well, and practicing mindfulness techniques are a few positive coping strategies to maintain a balanced daily life.
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Alyssa Mueller is an Associate Clinical Social Worker. She holds a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Community Mental Health from California State University of Fullerton as well as a Bachelors of Arts in Communication Studies with an emphasis on intercultural and interpersonal communication from California State University of Long Beach. Compassion, empowerment and unconditional positive regard are the foundations of her clinical practice, Alyssa has a passion for helping others and her priority is to hold space for clients to feel heard, to feel safe and to find fulfillment and self-love on their recovery journey. Alyssa specializes in addiction treatment, self-esteem building, mindfulness practices, grief and loss, trauma informed care, and self-compassion as well as individual and family therapy. She has extensive experience working with high risk populations in various clinical settings such as partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient care, outpatient treatment, schools, and community outreach. Alyssa uses a client centered and holistic approach to address the client as a whole person in order to help them to feel empowered and facilitate their confidence and independence.
Charee has worked in the recovery field for 10 years.Charee is dedicated to supporting and inspiring clients to live a healthy lifestyle filled with meaning and purpose.Charee has extensive clinical experience within the recovery field in both inpatient and outpatient settings.She specializes in working with individuals and families affected by the disease of addiction however she has also clinical experience in assisting individuals,couples and families in working through a variety of concerns,including: depression,anxiety,relationship & communication issues,substance abuse,grief & loss,trauma, life transitions, and many others.Charee works with each client to specialize their treatment plan with what works best for the client in a compassionate and effective way. She emphasizes the strength of every individual client and fosters an environment of personal growth and internal healing from a mind, body and spiritual approach.Charee received her Bachelor of Arts from Seton Hall University, Majoring in Psychology and Minoring in Women and Gender Studies, in addition to her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Southern California.
I began my journey to recovery back in 2011 when I moved to California from New York.Along wiht my recovery and beginning a new way of life,I began to develop a heart for others struffling with sobriety.My journey to California was filled with many trials and lessons learned, but most of all, personal growht.I truly believe i would not have found success if I didn’t come to California.I started CPR as a way to work with people in recovery on a daily basis and it evolved into something much more beautiful. I have also come to realize that my own personal happiness and recovery depends on being involved in the lives of people in recovery. Helping others recover is a cornerstone of many 12 step programs, as it is here. Giving back to those still suffering, is the only way not to lose what you have gained. It is the paradox that we live by every day.