Dissociation PTSD (Complete overview)

In this brief article, we will be discussing dissociation PTSD, the relationship between dissociation and PTSD, how to cope with dissociation and PTSD, and more information about dissociation PTSD.

How do people with PTSD define dissociation?

People with PTSD would define dissociation as the dysfunction of the four areas that are affected by this kind of state and how distressing the symptoms are:

  • Identity
  • Memory
  • Consciousness
  • Self-recognition and awareness of surroundings

If there are breaks in these four areas, you are more likely to suffer from dissociation.

Relationship between dissociation and PTSD

Dissociation and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been found to be correlated with each with dissociation being a subtype of PTSD.

People who have this kind of condition may be seen as being aloof and not feeling anything at all as a residue of the traumatic event.

PTSD can be caused by only one occurrence of a traumatic event.

While dissociation is more the result of having through repeated traumatic events that have made the person reliable on being in this kind of state.

Trauma in people with dissociation is more on what is traumatic from a specific age group while PTSD focuses on the chronic effects of a traumatic experience.

Most cases have seen that dissociation is typically found in people with PTSD. 

When dissociation is paired with PTSD, the dissociative symptoms are said to be more severe than other symptoms.

People with dissociative disorders and PTSD are said to avoid stimuli that remind them of a traumatic event at all costs aside from the original form of PTSD. 

Dissociation and PTSD within a patient can actually affect the recovery of the patient and the effects of treatment can be slow or none at all.

Dissociation and PTSD can also cause one to experience fugue state.

You can learn more about how dissociation is affected by trauma by buying this book on this website.

Symptoms and signs of PTSD-related dissociation

In PTSD, you may some episodes where you feel you are stranger to yourself.

In this case, you are more likely to have the following symptoms and signs of dissociation with PTSD:

  • Having flashbacks to traumatic experiences associated with your PTSD
  • Feeling that you’re shortly losing touch with events going on around you which is similar to daydreaming
  • Blanking out or being incapable of recalling anything for a brief period of time

Many people with dissociation and PTSD are going to have these symptoms where they feel disconnected from themselves.

Nevertheless, there is good news for these afflicted people: Although the symptoms of these two connected psychological disorders are upsetting, they may not last a long time.

What occurs when PTSD-related dissociation has severe symptoms?

Dissociation in PTSD can also make afflicted people have derealization and depersonalization episodes where they feel like they don’t belong in reality or their own bodies.

These kinds of episodes can lead to serious mental health condition.

Depersonalization and derealization are episodes of dissociation that can occur in people with the beginnings of PTSD to help them cope with a traumatic event.

In this case, these dissociative episodes can help drown out the noise of distress associated with the severely traumatic event.

Depersonalization can be understood as an out-of-body experience where the person sees his or her body but not feeling they own it.

In memory of a traumatic event, they might have this kind of episode and defend themselves that this kind of event hasn’t happened to them. 

When you are in a state of derealization, you will feel like you don’t belong in reality.

For instance, you see a memory of distress which makes you believe that the event didn’t happen at all. 

People with dissociation and PTSD are expected to have derealization and depersonalization in their lives.

People who are affected by these kinds of episodes while having these psychological conditions are the following:

  • Are male
  • Have experienced and struggled through repeated chronic traumatic experiences before having PTSD
  • Have other mental health complications such as suicidal tendencies
  • Have some kind of physical or mental disability that disrupts with everyday living

You can learn more about depersonalization by buying this book on this website.

You can also learn more about derealisation by buying this book on this website.

Diagnosing PTSD-related dissociation

Mental health professionals will be using different kinds of psychological tests to diagnose people with dissociation and PTSD.

For instance, most people who are suspected to have this kind of psychological disorder will be taking the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS).

  • The CAPS tests for depersonalization by asking you to answer to test questions like “Have there been times or some moments when you felt as if you were outside of your body, watching yourself as if you were another person?”
  • This kind of psychological also tests for derealization by asking, for instance, “Have there been times or moments when things going on around you seemed unreal or very strange and unfamiliar?”

Causes of PTSD-related dissociation

There are different causes to why dissociation and PTSD can co-occur together.

And these are the following reasons:

Dissociation as an Avoidance Coping Strategy Gone Permanent

Dissociation has been considered as a coping strategy after the occurrence of a traumatic event.

This coping strategy allows children who have gone through abuse or neglect to escape the cruelty of reality.

Children who have gone through traumatic events are more likely to engage in dissociation since they know that they don’t know what to do after that traumatic event happened.

These afflicted children are more likely to experience derealization where they feel like the traumatic event was all a dream.

You should take into account that children who have experienced neglect from their parents will react differently aside from derealization.

Studies have also shown that adults who have gone through childhood abuse were more likely to have psychological disorders in their adult years. 

Dissociation and traumatic events are very closely linked.

Although not all people with PTSD will have dissociative disorders at the same time.

Dissociation may be a coping strategy to deal with trauma but using it frequently might trigger a dissociative disorder.

The problem is that people who engage in dissociation might not realize that they are still using it as a coping strategy despite the absence of an external threat.

The dissociation that is triggered without an external threat can be dangerous to the afflicted person.

This can be shown when this state might make the person dysfunctional in his or her everyday life. 

Addressing the issue of a traumatic event might trigger these afflicted people to engage in dissociation.

These people who respond with this state to normal situations may not be able to live their life to the fullest and be safer in the hidden world of dissociation.

You can learn more about other coping mechanisms other than dissociation by buying this book on this website.

Age of onset of dissociation and PTSD

The severity of dissociation is associated with the appearance of psychological disorders thanks to the traumatic event that has happened in the younger years.

Although some have found that dissociation and PTSD can happen when the child is at his or her preschool-age or pre-adolescent age. 

The appearance of severe trauma at the age of 9 may make the child develop dissociation and PTSD depending on the child’s coping mechanism of the trauma if he or she relies on dissociation too much aside from other coping mechanisms.

Brain Changes that may occur in dissociation and PTSD

Dissociation and PTSD may also occur thanks to brain changes that can happen after the experience of trauma.

These brain changes have been said to cause the behaviours that are predominant in this psychological condition.

These studies have found that there was a decreased activity in the limbic system and increased activity in the frontal lobe and some parts of the brain that needed to communicate to create specific functions such as memory.

These studies are still ongoing to find out more about dissociation and PTSD.

You can learn more about what happens to the brain when a person has dissociation and PTSD by buying this book on this website.

Treatment for people with PTSD-related dissociation

Good thing there is a way to heal dissociation and PTSD where therapists will focus on treating dissociation first.

As mentioned before, most people are unaware they are engaging in this kind of state. 

This is why therapists will guide the individual with dissociation and PTSD in the process.

This kind of state tends to be treated with grounding from the afflicted person. 

Grounding is a technique where the therapist will put the person who has dissociation and PTSD in the present moment.

Grounding in therapy where observing the therapist acting on this technique.

  •  Firmly get attention to make eye contact by calling out, wave hand and/or snapping fingers
  •  Make an immediate observation about the state of dissociation like being spaced out where you will be recalling what occurs in this state 
  •  Have client talk about where, what, environment like asking the therapist where he or she was when this dissociation happened
  •  Ask and let the client do some grounding by naming 5 things the client may see, hear, and feel and count how many he or she sensed
  •  Give something that can elicit grounding to do such as smelling a calming smell, eating a piece of candy and describe, put cold water compress, and ice cubes or cold bottle behind knees

The therapist will be saying something about the traumatic event to return to the active treatment of dissociation and PTSD.

Grounding out of therapy for the client

  •  Make a grounding plan to take with and use when the client will observe and feel dissociation.
  •  Notice dissociation
  •  Do physical or mental grounding exercise
  •  Have a cognitive coping mechanism prepared
  •  Have caregiver, teacher or friend agree to do some signals for use of grounding plan. This needs to be discussed beforehand with the client. After this, the client will choose which grounding plan is best to treat dissociation and PTSD.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have discussed dissociation PTSD, the relationship between dissociation and PTSD, how to cope with dissociation and PTSD, and more information about dissociation PTSD.

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If you have any questions about dissociation PTSD, please let us know and the team will gladly answer your queries.

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FAQs: dissociation ptsd

What are the signs of dissociation?

The signs of dissociation are amnesia, derealisation, depersonalisation, and identity confusion.

Derealisation is when you feel that you are detached from your environment.

Depersonalisation makes you feel that you don’t own your body.

Identity confusion is apparent when you start splitting yourself in dissociation. 

What is a dissociative state?

 A dissociative state is when you feel that you are far away from your present environment or yourself.

This kind of state is different in psychosis where psychotic states are when you feel that you don’t understand your reality from others while a dissociative state is more of you have a lack of your relationship with reality.

Can PTSD cause depersonalization?

No, PTSD can’t cause depersonalization since this symptom is more associated with the condition.

Some people with PTSD also suffer from symptoms known as depersonalization and derealization such as that they experience out-of-body states or emotions that the world is not true.

It is the most typical experience among people with this kind of trauma disorder developed after repeated traumas or childhood dysfunction.

Why do I dissociate all the time?

You dissociate all the time since you may have a mental disorder or a physical disorder.

Physical causes like head trauma or brain tumours can trigger amnesia and other cognitive complications.

Mental conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder may cause similar symptoms to a dissociative disorder.

Can you dissociate from anxiety?

Yes, you can dissociate from anxiety.

Dissociation anxiety is not a specific diagnosis or set of symptoms. Instead, dissociation is a symptom and may be related to anxiety.

Dissociation refers to being disconnected from the present moment.

What we recommend for PTSD

Professional counselling

If you have PTSD, then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will allow you to practice various habits that improve your overall quality of life.

Citations

Depts. What is Dissociation and What to do About It? .

Verywellmind. Links Between Trauma, PTSD, and Dissociative Disorders.

Verywellmind. The Definition of Dissociation for People With PTSD.

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