Skip to main content

Conditions: Dissociation

What is dissociation?

It is not uncommon to experience dissociation at some point during our lives. When we enter a state of dissociation, we tend to feel disconnected from ourselves (our feelings and our body, for example) as well as the world around us.

We may also feel surreal or that the world around us is not real, however, everyone’s experience of dissociation may be different.

It is important to note that although dissociation, can be unsettling and impede on our lives, is something we often cannot control and constitutes a protective mechanism as it is often a way in which our mind copes with overwhelm and stress, especially as a result of a traumatic event(s).

Dissociation can last for a relatively short time (hours or days) as well as for a prolonged time (days or months).

When dissociation occurs for a significant period and it becomes a common experience for you, and a way of dealing with stress and painful emotions, a psychiatrist may call this a dissociative disorder.

Dissociation can occur in the context of other difficulties associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder. Dissociation can also occur as a side effect of alcohol or some medication, or when coming off some medication.

#PTSD #Depression #Anxiety #Schizophrenia #Bipolar #Borderline #PersonalityDisorder

Is your difficulty linked to anything specific?

  • Dissociative amnesia: this term often refers to having difficulty remembering personal information and having gaps in your memory

  • Dissociative fugue: this term refers to experiences of taking on a new identity for a short time (without remembering your identity)

  • Derealisation: the terms refers to an experience whereby you feel the world around you is unreal and surreal. You may see objects changing in size, shape and colour and you may perceive the world as foggy and lifeless and people as robotic, even though you know that is not the case

  • Depersonalisation: this refers to an experience whereby you are looking at yourself from the outside as if you are watching yourself on a screen and observing your emotions. You may also feel detached and disconnected from your feelings and parts of your body and feel like you are floating. The boundaries between yourself and others may suddenly seem blurred.

  • Identity alteration: this refers to feeling that your identity shift and change (you may use different name, speak differently and switch between various parts of your personality); it is common to feel that you are losing control to ‘someone else’ and experience different parts of your personality at different times, including children

  • Identity confusion: this refers to an experience of confusion about what kind of person you are – there is often a distinct feeling that there different people inside you.

When to seek help?

  • You have out-of-body experiences

  • You Feel like you are a different person sometimes

  • You Feel like your heart is pounding or you're light-headed

  • You Feel emotionally numb or detached

  • You Feel little or no pain

  • You feel uncertain about who they are and have many different identities

  • You have problems with movement, sensation, seizures and have periods of memory loss

  • You Have an altered sense of time

  • You do Not remember how you got somewhere

  • You Have tunnel vision

  • You Hear voices in your head

  • You Have intense flashbacks that feel real

  • You Become immobile

  • You Get absorbed in a fantasy world that seems real

  • Your symptoms and difficulties negatively impact on your daily life and your relationships

Treatment recommendations

Psychological therapy (such as adapted version of EMDR) will help you explore traumatic events in your past, help you understand why you dissociate and develop alternative coping mechanisms. It can also assist you in managing your emotions and your relationships. The right intervention and treatment would be selected based on your needs following a comprehensive assessment process in our service.


Back to What We Do Page

Back to Top