When it comes to getting help for mental illness, there are three early steps that one has to take. They are “acknowledgment, acceptance, and action.” This involves “acknowledging” that there is a mental health issue, “accepting” help for that issue and taking “action” to treat that issue. Furthermore, these steps must be taken for those struggling with dissociative disorders, as they are the best pathway to treating dissociative disorders efficiently and effectively.
Understanding Dissociative Disorders
Dissociative disorders are not the most common mental health issue out there. In fact, the most recognized dissociative disorder is dissociative identity disorder (DID) (often still referred to as multiple personality disorder), yet it is quite rare. According to the clinical write-up, Dissociative Identity Disorder by authors Mitra and Jain, “Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a rare psychiatric disorder diagnosed in about 1.5% of the global population.”
However, dissociative disorders are more vast than just DID. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “Dissociative disorders involve problems with memory, identity, emotion, perception, behavior and sense of self. Dissociative symptoms can potentially disrupt every area of mental functioning. Examples of dissociative symptoms include the experience of detachment or feeling as if one is outside one’s body, and loss of memory or amnesia.”
There are also three primary types of dissociative disorders. These include DID, dissociative amnesia, and depersonalization/derealization disorder. All of these have both unique and shared characteristics.
What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Dissociative Disorders?
Before dissociative disorders are treated, they must first be detected. The following are just a few of the signs and symptoms of dissociative disorders:
- Feeling detached from one’s body, “self,” or their surroundings
- Experiencing extensive gaps in memory, generally, these are associated with traumatic experiences
- Having trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much
- Displaying two or more distinct “identities,” or “personalities”
- Difficulty communicating what they are experiencing, though they know the feelings are disordered
- Using substances as a coping mechanism
- Isolating away from friends and family
- Experiencing feelings of self-harm or having suicidal ideations
Now, because these symptoms can be so severe, it is critical to seek help as soon as any warning signs arise. The good news is that there are many effective dissociative disorder treatments.
How Are Dissociative Disorders Treated?
So, how are dissociative disorders treated? The best answer is that they are treated comprehensively. Taking a multi-faceted approach to treating dissociative disorders is the best way to ensure long-term recovery and success.
A comprehensive recovery plan for dissociative disorders should include at least two categories of treatment: Evidence-based, “traditional” treatments and experiential treatments, such as art and nature immersion therapy.
Psychotherapies and Medication
The primary dissociative disorder treatment is via evidence-based psychotherapies and medications. These two types of treatments can create a foundation on which other treatments, coping skills, and grounding exercises can stand.
Two psychotherapies tend to be utilized most when it comes to dissociative disorder treatment: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These two therapies work to understand the underlying traumas that often correlate to the symptoms of dissociative disorders. Once those traumas are discovered, the therapist and client can begin to address and create some exercises to best manage them.
Medication for dissociative disorders – such as antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medication, and antidepressants – are not sole treatments. Rather, they help to quell the symptoms of dissociative disorders so other modalities can be more effective.
In addition, experiential therapies are highly effective in helping people who struggle with dissociation communicate their feelings. This is especially true for those individuals who have trouble communicating verbally. Examples of experiential therapies include art, drama, and dance therapy.
Another highly effective experiential therapy is nature immersion therapy. This can help individuals “reattach” to their surroundings and reestablish their identity.
Additionally, nature immersion therapy has benefits that can apply to more than just dissociative disorders. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Besides physical health improvements, nature exposure can bring about positive influence upon psychological constructs such as boredom, friendliness, wellbeing, and liveliness. However, across more than one hundred studies on nature/wildlife exposure, stress mitigation has been shown to be one of the most consistent and important psychological benefits.”
Dissociative Disorders Treated Effectively and Empathetically at The Phoenix Recovery Center
Unfortunately, dissociative disorders can make someone feel like they are no longer a part of the world around them. At The Phoenix Recovery Center, we are here to bring them back and show them that they indeed are, and also that they are in control of how they want to engage with that world.
Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we understand that perhaps the hardest step one has to take when it comes to treating mental illness and addiction is accepting help. This is why whenever anyone is ready for it, we are immediately ready to offer it.
If you feel like you or someone you love may be struggling with a dissociative disorder, we can help. For more information on effective ways to treat issues of mental illness and addiction, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.