Well, all of us at some point in our lives have experienced being ‘disconnected’. It could be when we have a serious conversation with someone, but our mind is wandering elsewhere. These moments are generally occasional lapses bearing no impact on our daily lives. When this takes place, the disconnect can, within no time, turn into dissociation. Yes, you heard that right, and surprisingly, if left untreated, it can evolve into a dissociative disorder. We shall now look at dissociation and dissociative disorders and understand how a counselling psychologist in India can help. In addition, we will also look at various compounding effects of dissociation.
What is Dissociation?
Someone rightly said that the way we perceive and see the world around us genuinely determines our reality. Our thoughts, emotions, feelings and memories all of them together contribute to help us know who we are. However, when these perceptions are disconnected, our entire sense of reality and identity becomes blurry, and vision is unclear.
Whenever you experience dissociation, you may tend to look at yourself as if you are some stranger – totally unsure of who the person staring back at you from the mirror is. A range of mental conditions can cause dissociative symptoms, which comprises bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia.
Believe it or not, for some individuals, dissociation is a form of extreme escapism. For them, dissociation is escaping reality in a way that is involuntary and potentially unhealthy. If you are aware of your condition, book an appointment with a psychologist in Chennai.
Symptoms of Dissociation
Well, the effects of dissociation can be brutal to pinpoint since it differs from person to person. It has the potential to affect the way you see things, think, feel and even behave. Hence, it’s crucial to convey it to someone as soon as possible if you are experiencing the symptoms listed below.
The following signs or symptoms are rough examples of what you may experience:
- feeling detached from your body
- experiencing gaps in memory
- always forgetting important information about yourself
- feeling that there is more than one person beside you
- hearing vague voices
- feeling like the world around you is not real
- having out-of-body experiences
- other people often telling you that you have been acting different
- feeling detached from any feelings or emotions
- feeling numb
Many of these symptoms of dissociation have links to other mental health issues. Hence, it can be challenging to diagnose dissociation or dissociative disorders. So, it is vital to choose the best psychologist in Chennai in your area. The nature of the condition can also make the sufferer confused and reluctant to seek help; therefore, there has been a significantly low diagnosis in these areas.
Dissociative disorders take place when episodes of dissociation become very frequent. While most of the cases of separation are mild and can go away in some period, dissociative disorders tend to have a long-lasting effect and are likely to require treatment for a longer duration.
The following are some examples of dissociative disorders:
1. Dissociative amnesia
Dissociative amnesia happens when you cannot remember or recall vital information about yourself or even a particular crucial event in your life. Amid this disorder, you may also feel symptoms and warning signs of depersonalisation and identity confusion.
2. Dissociative amnesia with a fugue
Dissociative amnesia with fugue assumes an alternative identity for a specific time which could be for days or weeks. To those who don’t know you at all, your acts and behaviours may seem entirely reasonable to them. However, when the memory of your real identity kicks in, you may experience a plethora of mixed emotions, including shame, sadness and depression.
3. Depersonalisation or derealisation disorder
Depersonalisation disorder leads you to feel completely detached from your own body, and you may feel as if your body isn’t ‘real’ at all. As strange as it sounds, you may feel as if you are watching your body in a movie or a similar experience.
4. Dissociative identity disorder (DID)
Dissociative identity disorder is one of the most complex diseases for one to go through; it is commonly known as multiple personality disorder. This is the name that led people to believe it is a personality disorder, but it is not (please note). The overriding and vital symptom of this disorder is a complete change in identity.
Those with this disorder may have a spectrum of different identities that they are in control of. You may become aware of the other characters or not, but if you do, make sure to consult a top psychiatrist in India, or you may lose precious chunks of time without knowing why.
5. Other specified dissociative disorders (OSDD)
Another type named, another specified dissociative disorder occurs when you experience such dissociative symptoms that don’t fit any diagnosis conducted so far. This is when they may diagnose you with the unspecified dissociative disorder (UDD).
Causes of Dissociative Disorders
Just like many other mental health problems, the causes of dissociation and its disorders are incredibly complex. Experts have concluded that the most common reason for dissociative disorders is past trauma which acts as a burden life long such as childhood abuse.
For example, if you were abused as a young child, you may have ‘disconnected’ or even isolated from the people around you to cope with what was happening to you. Feeling vulnerable is one of the prime reasons for you to use dissociation as a coping device, and unfortunately, this can continue even years after the abuse took place.
Most of the times, when there was no adult present to provide comfort or help you overcome this situation, you have had to become emotionally self-sufficient at such a tender young age. As identities are still forming during this time, it can lead to immense confusion. If you know someone reeling with this, do book an appointment with the top psychologist in India.
Treatment for Dissociative Disorders
Treating dissociative disorders or dissociation aims to reconnect you with your thoughts, ideas, feelings, principles and memories etc. with the sole purpose to help you feel more accurate and complete as a human being. If you suspect you have a dissociative disorder, your first resort should be visiting a qualified mental health professional. They will be able to decipher better a specialist who can go through your treatment options.
You can also take someone along with you if you feel insecure or scared. They can keep you on track with the number of appointments and even ensure that you attend important meetings. Concerning the treatment you may be offered, psychotherapy and talk therapies act as a premise, and hence they are most likely to be at the forefront. Finding out the root cause of your dissociation is a prime goal, along with learning to recognise their symptoms and dealing with stressful situations.
Methods used in therapy sessions of dissociation
Different techniques and methodologies can be used during your therapy sessions, including hypnosis, to help you regain your prior knowledge better or use cognitive therapy to help you change the addictive negative thought patterns into healthy ones. Creative art therapy is also a modern way of expressing themselves.
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the most effective and successful recommendations to help cope up with those individuals dealing with traumatic memories. However, due to its nature, EMDR is not likely to help those with dissociative disorders. If EMDR is used for dissociative disorders, then it should focus on specific memories for shorter periods. Make sure all these are followed on the only basis of the advice of your doctor.
Doctors may also recommend your medication depending on your specific condition. When seeking professional help, you must speak and conversate with someone who has experience in dealing with such dissociation. Remember, the related disorders can be complicated and robust to treat – and therefore, it may require an abundance of patience and long-term support. Hence, finding someone you feel comfortable with and can easily trust is imperative.
Great counsellors and famous psychotherapists develop a long-lasting rapport with their clients. Through listening to every single detail and accepting you as you are, they work towards the goals of the therapy. Always remember that you should be in no doubt that the overall functionality of the therapist and trust him or her blindly, only then would this relationship turn out to be a successful therapy. However, we recommend that you first consult a qualified and experienced psychiatrist doctor who can diagnose your condition.
How to help yourself at all times in dealing with dissociation
Seeking professional assistance and help is a must when dealing with dissociation. However, you can utilise various forms of self-help for yourself to help enable the recovery process faster and quicker. Carrying out self-help techniques and practices on your own can be difficult and challenging at times. Hence you must reach out for help.
1. Keep a journal
When you keep a journal, it can be beneficial to improve your connections with reality. If you are suffering from dissociative identity disorder, writing in a journal is the best resort. This can encourage awareness and form an interesting dialogue to segregate between different identities. Try this once or twice, and if you feel comfortable doing so, speak to your counselling psychologist in India. He or She can advise you on what you write in your journal to help you during your sessions.
2. Use grounding techniques
When you connect yourself with the present, less drama and less stress are sitting your way. Utilise some powerful grounding tactics and techniques like breathing slowly, communicating with someone you trust, touching something substantial, or smelling a strong odour. Certain facets of mindfulness practice could help similarly.
3. Allow time for the younger identities to take over
If you have the illness named dissociative identity disorder, the personalities within you may change as your age increases. Allow them their own time and time to play and control themselves, which offers them something they may have been denied as a child.
4. Implement and act on the everyday coping strategies
It would help if you worked with your counselling psychologist in Chennai, India to implement a strategy that could help you remain in the moment in an absolute sense. If you suffer from dissociative amnesia or if you are still suffering, have a calendar or a checkbox, you tick off every day. This would help you to visualise where you stand and how far is the journey. In case you suffer from depersonalisation, specific age-old techniques such as twanging a rubber band on your arm will be helpful. This may help to bring you back to your own body. Please remember that your doctor is the right person to advise you on what is the right strategy.
5. Join a support group or an online community
You may find it highly fruitful to talk to others who go through similar problems as yourself. Support groups can offer you an emotional perspective. You may also be able to learn tips from other members of the group. Online communities are probably the best approach for those who don’t feel comfortable speaking about their problems faces to face. Since online platforms are rarely regulated and boost anonymity, you should approach this support with extra caution. Your counselling psychologist in Chennai, India, may be able to suggest an appropriate forum best and may also give you essential tips.
Advice for friends and relatives of those with dissociation
- If your loved one is diagnosed with dissociation or a dissociative disorder, your role may be crucial in their overall recovery. Always remember, being as supportive and understanding as possible can help sail the person dealing with dissociation.
- Gather as much information you can. In addition, learn as much as you can about their disorder. It will help you comprehend better what they are going through. It’s a shot worth trying.
- Listen to your friend or relative without being judgemental if they choose you and trust you to tell you about their experiences.
- Always try and offer help with everyday tasks but do not make it look very dependent on nature. Help them keep track of appointments to visit the top counselling psychologist in India and also remind them of their eating habits if they forget.
- Be cautious when it comes to touching and being close. Ensure that there is consent and do not jump the gun.
- If you become a full-time caretaker, being responsible for someone in this way can be incredibly taxing. Hence, ensure you are taking care of yourself too.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist for Dissociation?
Currently, there are no official rules or guidelines in place that stipulate training a counselling psychologist in India. However, it is always recommended that you check to see if your therapist is experienced in this arena. A professional qualification (or equivalent) in dissociative disorders will provide assurance and peace of mind. Another way to assure they have undergone this type of specialist training is to check if they belong to a relevant professional organisation.
We recommend meeting with a qualified counselling psychologist in India to diagnose the condition. If your counselling psychologist suggests psychotherapy, then get into the stage of identifying an experienced therapist.
Counselling For Dissociative Disorders with Praveen Saanker
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