Dissociative disorders normally occur as a reaction to a traumatic event as a way to help keep difficult memories at bay. Dissociative disorders most commonly occur in children that are subjected to long-term physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or less often in a home environment that is frightening or highly unpredictable. The stress of war or natural disasters may also result in the occurrence of dissociative disorders.


There are three types of dissociative disorders, namely:

Dissociative amnesia – This is a condition where you are not able to remember any information about yourself, which is not normal forgetting. This amnesia is normally due to a traumatic or stressful event. It is associated with having experiences of childhood trauma, especially emotional abuse and emotional neglect.

Dissociative identity disorder – This type of dissociative disorder is associated with overwhelming experiences, traumatic events, and/or abuse that occurred in childhood. Previously referred to as multiple personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder may cause symptoms such as the existence of 2 or more distinct identities, ongoing gaps in memory (about everyday events, personal information or past traumatic events), and symptoms that cause significant distress or occupational, social or other areas of functioning.


Depersonalization/derealization disorder – This is a mental disorder that involves a significant ongoing or recurring experience of unreality or detachment from one’s mind, self or body (depersonalization) or unreality or detachment from one’s surroundings (derealization), or both. During these episodes, you may be aware of the reality and that the episodes are unusual. This experience may be very distressful even though you may seem unreactive or lacking emotion.

How are dissociative disorders treated?

Treatment of dissociative disorders is normally a combination of psychotherapy with the goal of helping you manage different personalities and be able to control the dissociative process and symptoms. Therapy may be long and difficult as it may involve you remembering and learning how to deal with past trauma. Antidepressants may be prescribed to help treat symptoms of depression.


1Do people with dissociative disorders have suicidal thoughts?
More than 70% of people who have dissociative disorder have attempted suicide. Therefore, suicide is more common in people with dissociative disorders.
2How can one prevent developing dissociative disorder?
You can try talking to a trusted person about your traumatic experience and ask for help locating resources such as support groups or therapy.
3What are the complications of dissociative disorders?
People with dissociative disorders are at increased risk of complications and associated disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, substance use disorders, physical symptoms like lightheadedness, and major difficulties in personal relationships and at work.

"Do not only go through pain but grow through pain"





A psychiatrist is a qualified doctor that specialises in the medical treatment of mental health conditions, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists can assess both mental and physical aspects of psychological conditions and are able to prescribe appropriate medication.