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What Is The Root Cause Of Trust Issues?

What Is The Root Cause Of Trust Issues?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines trust as a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Trust is generally viewed as one of the foundational pillars of any authentic, healthy relationship. It can take years to develop trust in a relationship, and only moments for it to be destroyed. A tendency to distrust others can lead to a slew of unwanted consequences (e.g., exacerbate depression, loneliness, antisocial behaviors, etc.). Trust issues are largely characterized by fears of abandonment, betrayal, and manipulation. There are different frequently exhibited signs with which an individual struggling with trust issues may present, including the following examples, provided by Good Therapy:

  • Lack of intimacy or friendships
  • The mistrust that interferes with a relationship
  • Dramatic and turbulent relationships
  • Suspicion or anxiety about friends and family 
  • Terror during physical intimacy
  • The belief that others are deceptive or malevolent without evidence

Unresolved trust issues can cause problems in romantic relationships as well as non-romantic relationships and can interfere with one’s ability to cultivate and maintain future healthy relationships. 

Where Do Trust Issues Come From?

There is no single root cause that universally and accurately encompasses why chronic distrust, colloquially known as trust issues, develops. Rather, in most situations, the cause of trust issues is often due to a confluence of contributing factors. Trust issues can develop because of past or present experiences. Common causes of trust issues could be attributed to:

  • Childhood experiences: research has found that people who have endured a troubled childhood are more likely to develop trust issues later in life. For some individual’s the development of trust issues may be attributed to exposure to the following examples at a young age:
    • A parent making false promises to a child 
    • A friend failing to follow through on their words 
    • Caregivers with poor parenting skills
    • Abuse (e.g., emotional, physical, sexual, psychological, etc.)
    • Parental neglect
    • Parents with psychiatric conditions
    • Parental anger issues
  • Toxic relationships: unhealthy elements of relationships that could ignite trust issues may include:
    • Jealousy
    • Possessiveness 
    • Unreasonable rigidity 
    • Emotional infidelity 
    • Physical/ sexual infidelity
    • Relational game playing 
    • Lack of reliability and/ or dependability 
    • Lack of emotional support 
    • Lack of financial compatibility 
    • Lack of mutually supportive goals
  • Traumatic incidents: the effects of trauma can interfere with an individual’s ability to let their guard down and trust others. A traumatized individual (e.g., a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, extreme bullying, etc.) often feels unsafe in society and may begin to anticipate potential danger in all relationships, which can cause confusion regarding whom to trust and emitting vulnerability. 

Psychology Today explains that some individuals’ trust issues could partly be a matter of personality, as people that are naturally less agreeable tend to be more prone to distrusting others. However, it is important to note that people are not born with trust issues. Trust issues gradually develop as a cumulative impact of the various negative experiences one encounters in his or her life, beginning in childhood.  

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Dissociation Feels Like

What Dissociation Feels Like

Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s feelings, thoughts, sense of identity, and/ or memories. The Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, explains that dissociation is a psychological phenomenon that “describes a state in which the integrated functioning of a person’s identity, including consciousness, memory, and awareness of surroundings, is disrupted or eliminated.” Dissociation is specifically influenced by the disruption of four areas of personal functioning (identity, memory, consciousness, and awareness of oneself and surroundings) that are designed to operate automatically and seamlessly. The exact causes of dissociation remain unknown, but various sources have identified certain risk factors (e.g., drug abuse, exposure to life-threatening or traumatic events, such as extreme violence, war, kidnapping, childhood abuse, etc., the presence of other mental health conditions) that may increase one’s susceptibility.  

What Does It Feel Like?

Dissociation is an overload response that works as a subconscious coping mechanism for an individual to temporarily avoid a traumatic situation, alleviate emotional overwhelm, and/ or evade negative thoughts. Every person is unique and therefore, dissociation is inevitably different for everyone. A study published in Access Advances in Psychiatric Treatment explains that general symptoms of dissociation often include changes in bodily senses and a reduced ability to react emotionally. The symptoms of dissociation can range from mild to severe and are often broken into the following five overarching categories:

  1. Depersonalization: feeling detached from one’s thoughts, feelings, and body
    • Becoming fully engrossed in something (e.g., a movie, a book, etc.) to the point of becoming unaware of what is going on in one’s surroundings
    • Having an out-of-body experience (e.g., an individual feeling as though he or she is floating away or watching themselves from a distance)
  2. Derealization: feeling disconnected from one’s environment
    • Daydreaming
    • Zoning out (e.g., scrolling through social media and suddenly noticing hours have passed)
  3. Dissociative amnesia: experiencing retrospective memory gaps 
    • Unable to remember important information about one’s life, history, and/ or identity
  4. Identity confusion: feeling unsure of one’s sense of self or place in the world
    • Obsessive behaviors (e.g., an individual repeatedly looking in the mirror to check and make sure that they are real)
  5. Identity alteration: the sense of being markedly different from another part of oneself

Severe symptoms of dissociation, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), could include perceptual alterations, emotional or physical numbing, distorted sense of time and space, unreal, unstable, or absent self, etc. The severity, combination, and duration of symptoms will vary from person to person. Individuals that dissociate do not necessarily experience symptoms from all five categories simultaneously, and further, dissociation can present as symptoms that may only be attributed to one of the above categories.  

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Does A Certified Addiction Professional Do?

What Does A Certified Addiction Professional Do?

The purpose of a certified addiction professional is to provide treatment and guidance to individuals recovering from substance use disorder. Certifications are earned through programs or services that may be based within or associated with a healthcare organization. According to the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), “the purpose of credentialing is to standardize the quality of addiction prevention, intervention, treatment, and continuing care services…[and] to set a benchmark for professionals and monitor the abilities of those who treat addictions.” Certified addiction professionals are employed in a variety of settings, such as:

  • Drug treatment centers
  • K-12 schools
  • College and university systems
  • Mental health centers
  • Hospitals and healthcare systems
  • Insurance and managed care organizations
  • Probation and parole agencies
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Private practice (e.g., therapist)
  • Human services (e.g., social services worker)

There are different levels of certifications available for addiction specialists, each enabling the accredited individual to provide additional services. For example, the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals offers three different types of addiction counselor certifications:

Addiction counseling certifications must be renewed through the NAADAC every two years. There are also continuing education requirements (40 hours of continuing education every two years) that addiction counselors must complete as a component of the renewal process, as well as submitting one’s two-year work history. 

What Do They Do?

The purpose of certified addiction professionals is to help individuals overcome addiction and related mental health issues. According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, they are clinical practitioners who “follow evidence-based practices to provide treatment for people with substance used disorders.” Common responsibilities of certified addiction specialists that are also licensed counselors could include:

  • Identify an individual’s addictive behaviors
  • Assign a diagnosis
  • Schedule intake assessments
  • Develop strategies that overcome destructive, maladaptive, negative, and unhealthy behaviors
  • Perform urinalysis to determine if individuals are remaining drug-free
  • Maintain records
  • Assist with insurance billings
  • Work with and provide support to family members and loved ones, who are affected by the individual’s addiction
  • Assist individuals with making new housing arrangements when needed
  • Educate the public on the dangers of substance abuse and addiction
  • Provide counseling services (e.g., one-on-one therapy, group sessions, workshops, other activities, etc.) and support to individuals struggling with substance use disorder

Certified addiction specialists collaborate with other healthcare providers and work with individuals struggling with substance use disorder to develop a customized treatment plan that is specifically informed by his or her nuanced recovery needs to help them maintain their sobriety. It is important to bear in mind that the duties of a certified addiction specialist vary widely based on their place of employment and the role they fill. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Identifies As An Eating Disorder?

What Identifies As An Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are complex psychological conditions that are characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) specifically defines eating disorders as “serious medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to a person’s eating behavior.” There are different types of eating disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. The three most common types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. There is no single, identifiable cause as to why someone develops an eating disorder. Research has, however, indicated certain biological, psychological, interpersonal, and social risk factors that have been noted to increase one’s susceptibility for developing an eating disorder.

Three Common Types

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by behaviors including unreasonable and unhealthy habitual food restrictions, over-exercising, abusing diet pills, abusing laxatives, and/ or fasting. An individual struggling with bulimia nervosa experiences frequent episodes of binge eating (eating excessive amounts of food in short periods of time) followed by purging (attempting to rid the body of the food by vomiting, fasting, and/ or excessively exercising). Binge eating disorder is particularly like bulimia nervosa, except an individual with binge eating disorder does not follow up his or her binge eating behaviors by purging. Instead, the individual internalizes the binge eating behaviors which ignite inner turmoil and unwanted emotions (e.g., feeling disgusted, ashamed, guilty, distressed, etc.) because of his or her excessive over-eating. Eating disorders can have debilitating effects and interfere with one’s ability to adequately function in his or her daily life. 

Signs and Symptoms

Every person is unique and will exhibit a distinct set of signs and symptoms as they relate to the presence of an eating disorder. Furthermore, the type of eating disorder an individual struggles with can influence the signs and symptoms experienced. The Mayo Clinic provides a list of examples of behaviors that could be indicative of an eating disorder, some of which include the following: 

  • Obsessively focusing on healthy eating
  • Skipping meals 
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Making excuses for not eating
  • Adhering to an overly restrictive diet 
  • Preparing separate meals when eating in a group instead of eating what everyone else is eating
  • Excessive exercise
  • Constantly checking the mirror and/ or pointing out perceived flaws
  • Using laxatives, herbal weight loss products, and/ or dietary supplements
  • Regularly excusing oneself during meals to use the restroom
  • Eating in secret
  • Expressing disgust, shame, and/ or guilt about one’s eating habits

The combination, severity, and duration of symptoms is influenced by the type of eating disorder present as well as the individual. If left untreated, continued malnutrition that occurs with an untreated eating disorder can lead to severe short and long-term consequences. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

 

How Do You Fix Trust Issues In Yourself?

How Do You Fix Trust Issues In Yourself?

Trust is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” It is the foundation of any healthy relationship, including oneself. There is no one more important to trust than yourself. Self-trust can boost your decision-making skills, improve your self-confidence, and even reduce stress levels. Psychology Today explains that “people who do not trust their own knowledge, beliefs, commitments, and emotions suffer from a lack of self-trust.” When a lack of self-trust extends to most areas of a person’s life, he or she may begin to view him or herself and become untrustworthy to him or herself. There are a variety of reasons and circumstances under which a person may lose trust in him or herself. Fortunately, self-trust issues can be fixed. 

How To Develop Self-Trust

There are several ways to cultivate and improve self-trust. To help mend your self-trust issues consider implementing the following suggestions: 

  • Be yourself: when you share your authentic self with others, they will treat you with more trust, which can in turn help build up your self-trust. 
  • Honor the promises you make to yourself: making a commitment to yourself and following through helps to build trust.
  • Avoid people who undermine your self-trust: surround yourself with people that support you and want to see you succeed.
  • Set attainable goals: although there are benefits to aiming high, it is helpful to your self-trust to start small. When we set unrealistic goals, we are often met with failure. Set smaller goals that enable you to succeed. Achieving smaller goals along the way can help you gain confidence and trust in yourself.  
  • Be kind to yourself: recognize that no one is perfect and be understanding towards yourself when you make a mistake.
  • Nurture your strengths: while trusting yourself means being able to try different things without being too self-critical or judgmental, when working on building trust in yourself it can be helpful to focus on doing things that you know you are good at. 
  • Be decisive: often when we lack trust in ourselves it can manifest as constantly questioning our decisions or actions. Breaking the habit of questioning your decisions by making and sticking with a choice can help build trust in yourself. 
  • Spend time with yourself: when we lack self-trust, we often develop a habit of looking away from ourselves as it can feel uncomfortable to spend time looking inward. Carving out time to focus on your inner thoughts and making a practice of patiently looking inward can help you get to know yourself better while simultaneously building up your self-trust. 

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix nor are there unanimous guidelines that are universally effective in building self-trust. Building and enhancing self-trust is a process that does not occur instantaneously, be patient with yourself and know that in time and with a little effort, it can be mended.  

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Triggers Dissociation?

What Triggers Dissociation?

Johns Hopkins Medicine explains triggers as “external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.” Triggers can vary from person to person and can cause different physiological responses, including dissociation. Dissociation is a psychological phenomenon that, according to the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, “describes a state in which the integrated functioning of a person’s identity, including consciousness, memory, and awareness of surroundings, is disrupted or eliminated.” Dissociation is specifically influenced by the disruption of four key areas (identity, memory, consciousness, and awareness of oneself and surroundings) of personal functioning that typically operate automatically and seamlessly. Medical News Today asserts that “the exact cause of dissociation is unclear, but it often affects people who have experienced a life-threatening or traumatic event, such as extreme violence, war, a kidnapping, or childhood abuse.” Dissociation is an overload response that serves as an ineffective coping mechanism. 

Common Triggers

Some types of triggers that are common with dissociation could include, but are not limited to the following examples, provided by Good Therapy and other sources:

  • Recreational drug abuse: certain substances (e.g., ketamine, hallucinogens, marijuana, benzodiazepines, alcohol, etc.) work by interacting with the chemicals in one’s brain which can trigger dissociation.
  • Another mental health condition can trigger dissociation, including the following:
    • Depression: is “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.”
    • Epilepsy: is “a central nervous system disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of awareness.”
    • Schizophrenia: is defined as “a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.”
    • Phobic disorder: is defined as “an anxiety disorder characterized by an extreme and irrational fear of simple things or social situations.”
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): is “a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).”
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): is “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it.”
    • Borderline personality disorder (BPD): is “an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior.”
  • Trauma can trigger dissociation

The general symptoms of dissociation, according to a study published in Access Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, include changes in bodily senses and a reduced ability to react emotionally. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) provides examples of more severe symptoms of dissociation including perceptual alterations, emotional or physical numbing, distorted sense of time and space, unreal, unstable, or absent self, etc. An episode of dissociation can also cause an individual to feel as though their heart is pounding and/ or experience symptoms of light-headedness. The symptoms of dissociation can range from mild to severe, and last varied durations.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Is A Certified Addiction Specialist?

What Is A Certified Addiction Specialist?

A certified addiction specialist is a mental health professional that provides supportive services to individuals recovering from substance use disorder. Most mental health providers are required to hold degrees in higher education, are required to pass certain certification tests, and many receive relevant mental health accreditations. Certifications are earned through programs or services that may be based within or associated with a healthcare organization. An individual must earn a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) to become certified in mental health. Accreditations can be earned by an entire health care organization (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, etc.). Both certification and accreditation require an evaluation by The Joint Commission. Although certified addiction specialists are commonly referred to as addiction counselors, they do not necessarily need to complete the same mental health counseling requirements. The certified addiction specialist (CAS) credential, according to the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders is a “clinical certification based upon experience providing treatment under the direction of a qualified clinical supervisor, specialized training, and a written examination.” The National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) offers three different types of addiction counselor certifications:

Addiction counseling certifications must be renewed through the NAADAC every two years. There are also continuing education requirements (40 hours of continuing education every two years) that addiction counselors must complete as a component of the renewal process, as well as submitting one’s two-year work history. 

Addiction Medicine Specialists

Addiction medicine was formally recognized in 1990, and defined as “the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery of persons with the disease of addiction, of those with substance-related health conditions, and of people who show unhealthy use of substances, including nicotine, alcohol, prescription medications, and other licit and illicit drugs.” Addiction specialists are addiction medicine physicians and addiction psychiatrists who hold either subspecialty board certification in: 

With the additional training and education, addiction medicine specialists focus on addictive diseases and the treatment of such diseases. They are qualified to recognize and treat the psychiatric and physical complications of addiction. Physicians in this subspecialty can also treat family members who have been adversely affected by a loved one’s substance use or addiction. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Is An Eating Specialist?

What is an eating specialist?

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. They are characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. There are several different manifestations of eating disorders. The various types are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. The exact cause behind why individuals develop eating disorders remains unknown, but research has found that it is likely due to a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. Eating disorders can be debilitating and can adversely affect an individual’s emotions, health, and interfere with one’s ability to adequately function in his or her daily. If left untreated, eating disorders can result in severe short and long-term consequences. The most common reason to reach out to an eating specialist is to help treat an individual struggling with an eating disorder. 

Dietitian

The most widely known type of eating specialist is known as a dietitian. Dietitians are experts in dietetics, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary is defined as “the branch of knowledge concerned with the diet and its effects on health, especially with the practical application of a scientific understanding of nutrition.” A registered dietitian must earn certification through the completion of a bachelor’s degree, supervised experience (at an accredited healthcare facility, community agency, or foodservice corporation), and passing a national exam administered by the Commission of Dietetic Registration. Dietitians have expert knowledge and provide essential input that is commonly incorporated into treatment plans for individuals struggling with eating disorders. They can develop diet and nutrition programs that are tailored to each person’s objectives and personal recovery needs to help correct abnormal eating behaviors.

Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists

A newer type of eating specialist is associated with an Eating Disorder Recovery Specialist (EDRS). In 2013, two psychotherapists based in New York, Greta Gleissner and Ashley Anderson, developed the first nationwide, in-home eating disorder recovery support program that is carried out in one’s own environment. They offer a variety of transitional and supplemental eating disorder services (e.g., therapeutic meal support, clinical coaching, in-home cooking, etc.) for early recovery. Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists explains that their goal is to “support all facets of your life through action-oriented goals, life skills development, self-care practices, and by creating meaning and purpose in your life outside of the eating disorder.” The primary purpose of EDRS is to provide services that enable clients to build applicable life skills while maintaining long-term recovery. Eating disorders are complex psychological conditions that involve extremely unhealthy eating habits, and the recovery process will require nuanced treatment plans that cater to everyone’s unique needs. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

How Do I Fix My Trust Issues?

How Do I Fix My Trust Issues?

Trust, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Trust issues are characterized by fears of abandonment, betrayal, and manipulation. It is impossible to move through life without encountering trust issues at some point. The severity and how those issues affect and shape each person may be different but facing trust issues is simply a part of life. Fortunately, there is a plethora of resources and helpful suggestions that an individual can take advantage of to shift painful trust issues into building blocks for cultivating healthy relationships. 

Common Signs

The first step to mending trust issues that may be interfering with one’s relationships is to recognize common signs. While trust issues have the propensity to manifest in different ways, frequently exhibited signs that may present could include but are not limited to the following examples, provided by Good Therapy:

  • Lack of intimacy or friendships
  • The mistrust that interferes with a relationship
  • Dramatic and turbulent relationships
  • Suspicion or anxiety about friends and family 
  • Terror during physical intimacy
  • The belief that others are deceptive or malevolent without evidence

The signs of trust issues may include any combination of the above examples. Unresolved trust issues can cause problems in romantic relationships as well as non-romantic relationships. 

Tips

There are several ways to overcome trust issues. To help get you on the path of resolution, consider implementing the following suggestions: 

  • Face your fears: the best way to diffuse the power of your fears that feed your trust issues is to name them, acknowledge them, and move on. 
  • Take emotional risks: to provide yourself with opportunities to heal you must dive in headfirst and embrace being emotionally vulnerable.
  • Everyone is human: it is advantageous to realize that no one is perfect, and that re-learning trust is a process that will likely involve some level of discomfort as well as additional experiences of broken trust. 
  • Seek closure from the past: as difficult as it may be, rather than allowing past experiences to negatively define or limit your future, try to learn from your past by seeing beyond the dysfunction, and extracting applicable lessons that can be used to develop healthier relationships in the future. 
  • Time is healing: for some people, it may only be a matter of time before your sense of trust feels restored.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix nor are there universal guidelines that are unanimously effective when working through betrayals, breached confidences, abandonment, or other trust issues. It is important to bear in mind that everyone is unique, and each person will process, integrate, and work through trust issues in their own way and in their own time.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Does Dissociation Feel Like?

What Does Dissociation Feel Like?

Dissociation is a psychological phenomenon that, according to the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, “describes a state in which the integrated functioning of a person’s identity, including consciousness, memory, and awareness of surroundings, is disrupted or eliminated.” While not all people that experience dissociation will have a diagnosable disorder, there are three distinct types of dissociative disorders, listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which are dissociative amnesia, dissociative identity disorder (DID), and depersonalization-derealization disorder. Experts attribute the cause of dissociation symptoms to develop due to a break in the cohesive functioning of one’s inner world. Dissociation is specifically influenced by the disruption of four key areas (identity, memory, consciousness, and awareness of oneself and surroundings) of personal functioning that typically operate automatically and seamlessly. 

Symptoms

It is impossible to explain exactly what dissociation feels like, as everyone is different and each experiencing an episode of dissociation will be unique to each person. For those diagnosed with a dissociative disorder, the symptoms that develop will directly correlate with that disorder. A study published in Access Advances in Psychiatric Treatment asserts that general symptoms of dissociation can include changes in bodily senses and a reduced ability to react emotionally. The symptoms of dissociation are often broken into five overarching categories, which include:

  1. Depersonalization: feeling detached from one’s thoughts, feelings, and body
    • Becoming fully engrossed in something (e.g., a movie, a book, etc.) to the point of becoming unaware of what is going on in one’s surroundings
    • Having an out-of-body experience (e.g., an individual feeling as though he or she is floating away or watching themselves from a distance)
  2. Derealization: feeling disconnected from one’s environment
    • Daydreaming
    • Zoning out (e.g., scrolling through social media and suddenly noticing hours have passed)
  3. Dissociative amnesia: experiencing retrospective memory gaps 
    • Unable to remember important information about one’s life, history, and/ or identity
  4. Identity confusion: feeling unsure of one’s sense of self or place in the world
    • Obsessive behaviors (e.g., an individual repeatedly looking in the mirror to check and make sure that they are real)
  5. Identity alteration: the sense of being markedly different from another part of oneself

The symptoms of dissociation can range from mild to severe, and last varied durations. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) provides examples of more severe symptoms of dissociation including perceptual alterations, emotional or physical numbing, distorted sense of time and space, unreal, unstable, or absent self, etc. An episode of dissociation can also cause an individual to feel as though their heart is pounding and/ or experience symptoms of light-headedness. Anxiety can be a cause or a result of dissociation.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.