If you’ve lived through a traumatic experience, you may suffer symptoms like avoidance or relationship trouble. But symptoms related to consciousness, memory, and self-identity could be warning signs of a subcategory of post-traumatic stress disorder called dissociation. Many people can lessen harmful symptoms with therapies, including medicine or ketamine infusion treatment.
WHAT IS PTSD?
It’s normal to have disturbing memories, feel on edge, or have sleep problems following trauma. Initially, it might be difficult to perform daily chores you’re accustomed to, like a job, attending school, or spending time with family and friends. But most people begin to feel better within weeks or months. For some people, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms may start long after, or they may appear in fits and starts. Anything longer may be signs of PTSD.
WHAT IS DISSOCIATION?
“Dissociation, a common feature of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), involves disruptions in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, and perception of the self and the environment. Acute dissociative responses to psychological trauma have been found to predict the development of chronic PTSD.” Furthermore, someone who suffers acute dissociative reactions to trauma also shows a chronic dissociation model as a response to cues of the original trauma and slight stressors that accompany it.
WHO GETS IT?
PTSD and dissociation can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, or socioeconomic standing. Like other mental health issues, it’s the great equalizer. It can happen in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality, culture, or accumulated wealth. Posttraumatic stress disorder is known to harm about 3.5 percent of U.S. adults annually, and about one in 11 people will be diagnosed with it during their lives. “Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.”
If you think you have PTSD, the symptoms are divided into four categories: Intrusive memories, avoidance, negative alterations in mood and thinking, and variations in emotion and physical reactions. Watch for symptoms like:
- Reliving the trauma like it was occurring again
- Avoiding anything which reminds you of what happened
- Hopelessness about future events
- Memory trouble, like forgetting key points of the traumatic occurrence
- Being easily frightened or alarmed
- Always being on the lookout for danger
DOES PTSD CAUSE DISSOCIATION?
PTSD doesn’t cause dissociation because it’s a subtype of PTSD. According to a study, there is a significant bond between trauma (like childhood abuse and/or neglect) and dissociative disorders, and the link is critical in both directions. It’s believed that long-term trauma is a cause of dissociative disorders, with detachment happening like a coping strategy that lets you put distance between yourself and a trauma that could otherwise be intolerable.
Part of the key to understanding the relationship between dissociation, PTSD, and trauma is the symptoms and the results of a self-report measure or a semi-structured interview conducted by an experienced mental health professional. In either case, this involves the use of the Dissociative Subtype of PTSD Scale (DSPS), “a 15-item measure that assesses lifetime and past-month (current) dissociative symptoms, including symptoms that define the DSM-5 definition of the dissociative subtype of PTSD. The measure has a branching structure such that individuals are first asked if they have ever (in their lifetime) experienced a given symptom and then asked if that symptom has been present in the past month.”
According to the National Center for PTSD, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, if a dissociative symptom has been seen in the last month, the incidence of the symptom is later measured “on a 1-4 scale and the intensity of the symptom is rated on a 1-5 scale. The extent to which a given symptom has occurred exclusively in the context of the use of medications or drugs that made the individual very tired or drowsy is also assessed.”
A doctor or mental health professional may also use questions from the Responses to Script-Driven Imagery Scale during the assessment:
- Did the experience seem unreal to you?
- Did you have the feeling of being a spectator watching what was going on?
- Did you experience a sensation of disconnection from your body?
- Did you feel as if you were in a fog?
Many people who experience PTSD, dissociation, and other mental illnesses or chronic pain can benefit from many kinds of therapy, particular medicine, or ketamine treatment. In addition, holistic or alternative treatment may work, including massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, exercise, or dietary and other lifestyle changes. Call us today to learn more about the innovative options for treatment we provide.