As mental health awareness spreads online and on social media, from time to time certain terms enter the public discourse that are not used quite right or have a definition that is unclear. Let’s take a look at dissociation, for example, and get a better sense of what this mental health phenomenon is and how it works.
Dissociation is a process that disconnects you from your thoughts, feelings, memories, sense of identity, or sense of the environment. Dissociative experiences exist on a spectrum. It is very common to experience light dissociation, such as when you daydream or get so absorbed in a book that you forget where you are. However, for some people, more extreme forms of dissociation can become a more serious problem that interferes with their daily life.
What causes dissociation?
Dissociation can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Traumatic experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or war
- Stressful life events, such as a death in the family or a job loss
- Medical conditions, such as head injuries or seizures
- Substance abuse
- Mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, depression, or schizophrenia
Types of dissociation
There are different types of dissociation, including:
- Depersonalization: This is a feeling of detachment from your own body or mind. You may feel like you are watching yourself from outside your body, or that you are not real.
- Derealization: This is a feeling of detachment from the world around you. You may feel like you are in a dream, or that the world around you is not real.
- Dissociative amnesia: This is a loss of memory for events, people, or places. The amnesia may be temporary or long-lasting.
- Dissociative fugue: This is a sudden, unexpected travel away from home or one's usual place of work or school, accompanied by an inability to recall the past.
- Dissociative identity disorder (DID): This is a condition in which a person has two or more distinct identities or personality states. Each identity has its own way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
If you are experiencing dissociation, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you understand why you are dissociating and develop coping mechanisms to manage your symptoms. We’re ready to help — click the button below to schedule a free phone consultation.