Dissociation can be a distressing thing to experience. Often, people suffer from mental dissociation due to a traumatic event. People experiencing dissociation will disconnect from their thoughts, personal beliefs/opinions and memories.
As a general rule, dissociation is cured through a combination of therapy, healthy lifestyle and potentially medication depending on the individual’s needs and any previously existing condition(s). “Talk” therapy, also known as psychotherapy, is the most popular treatment for dissociation by far.
Mental dissociation is when someone disconnects from reality, themselves and everyone around them. Someone who has become dissociated will seem hollow and somewhat robotic.
6 Tips on How to Cure Dissociation
Get Professional Counseling
As mentioned above, attending therapy has been known to have amazing effects with those experiencing dissociation. Working with a therapist can help identify triggers and underlying psychological causes of dissociation.
Speaking with a professional therapist is more convenient than ever with Online Therapy.
Most would agree that talking to a counselor is the best way to speed up recovery. Check it out for yourself to see if it’s right for you and your particular needs.
Self-care is not a luxury, it’s a responsibility to your own well-being! Start making your self-care a priority with these simple ideas today!
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Practice Self Care
Self-care can have a lot to do with dissociation. I’m not talking about “bubble baths and candles” type of self-care (although that does help with relaxation), but rather the kind of self-care that takes a little bit of work.
Figuring out what’s best for you and having the discipline to follow through, even when you don’t want to, can bring some serious reward. Do you need to shut the TV off and go to bed earlier? Maybe cutting screen time on all devices will help keep you grounded better.
What about those painful mental and emotional health areas you’ve been avoiding? Whatever the situation may be, showing up for yourself and practicing self-care in it’s truest form, can change your life and even help you avoid and/or recover from dissociation.
Using drugs and/or alcohol can increase the chance of experiencing dissociation, especially if other underlying mental health issues are at play. When you’re experiencing the effects from substances, it is causing your brain to operate abnormally (your cognitive function that is).
In some cases, you might have a hard time recovering from the use of drugs/alcohol which will keep you in that dissociative state. Also, some people might try to abuse substances as a way of dealing with pre-existing dissociation which will only make it worse overall.
Even if you do not abuse drugs or alcohol, having lingering effects from a few alcoholic drinks could cause someone to experience dissociation if they’re mental health is is need of care.
Exercise has amazing mental and physical benefits. When you exercise regularly, you are literally changing the way your brain functions – for the better. Those with chemical imbalances that contribute to their dissociation can often correct this by exercising. Aside from endorphin release, other chemicals will become better regulated.
Stress levels will decrease, your body will be able to release toxins, your brain will function to your advantage much better, and you’ll be able to stay focused for longer periods of time. Not to mention your sleep will most likely improve. All of which can contribute to the elimination of dissociation.
Center Yourself by being Present
There are several things you can do to center yourself. If you’re unfamiliar, centering yourself is simply when you “check yourself” back into reality. There are several ways to do this.
Personally, when I start to notice that I’m getting too “in my head” about certain things, going for a run, listening to music or even just “unplugging” and writing in my journal are the top things that I do to keep myself centered.
Dissociation can be brought on by a number of things, and each can differ from person to person. What triggers someone to disconnect from reality might not have the same effect on someone else. Be proactive about getting familiar with your triggers as well as what grounds you. It’s life changing to say the least.
It’s easy to become dissociated when things seem mundane and boring. Most of us sat in our houses for over a year during COVID-19 so I think we can all relate to how mind numbing that “funk” was.
You might forget about little things you used to look forward to and digress into a state of barely existing. Now that things are somewhat back to normalcy, I think many of us are experiencing an elevated sense of purpose. However, you can still get lost in the day to day if you are lacking structure in your life.
Implementing a routine is a great way to stay grounded and present in your life. Here are a few examples of what you can do to make sure you have some structure.
- Adopt a pet
- Join a weekly workout class
- (or) Join a gym and go every morning
- Grab a friend and sign up for an art or cooking class
- Join the local running group (trust me, it gets easier after the first few weeks)
Frequently Asked Questions
Many people experiencing dissociation are well aware of what’s going on and are trying to be proactive about their situation. And that’s great! Staying on top of your mental well-being is important. Here are a few commonly asked questions about dissociation.
How do you Overcome Dissociation?
Using a mix of the above 6 tips can help you overcome dissociation. To summarize, here is a brief list of what can help:
- Talk to a professional therapist (Online Therapy is a convenient option)
- Practice daily self-care (healthy habits, plenty of sleep, working on your mental/emotional health, etc.)
- Avoid drugs/alcohol. (We’re not talking about prescribed medication – talk to your doctor to see what’s right for you.)
- Exercise. Workout. Or exercise. But seriously, get that blood pumping!
- Center yourself. Find things that bring you back into reality (being outside, journaling, listening to music, etc..
- Stick to some sort of a routine. Whether is a daily workout at the gym or talking your dog for a walk, routine and structure are so important.
- Work on a puzzle – keep that mind sharp!
- Repeat affirmations daily. (hint: you have to actually relate to them and they need to make you feel good when you say them. Try “I am supported, safe and blessed.” or “I have the ability to create the life I want.” Whatever resonates with you!)
- Put your hands in water or hold onto some ice. Just take a minute to notice how it feels and focus on that.
- Count out 10-20 things you see nearby.
- Snuggle under your favorite weighted blanket and focus on how it feels.
How Long Does Dissociation Last?
In most cases, dissociation periods typically last for a few hours up to a few days. People experiencing dissociation long term (weeks – years) typically have some other type of disorder at play.
Will My Dissociation Ever Go away?
If the proper treatment and lifestyle are proactively sought, yes! As briefly mentioned before, in cases where dissociation lasts for years, other disorders and mental issues are typically at play. Much of the time, this can be attributed to unresolved trauma.
Working through it in therapy and doing your best to live a healthy life are two of the best things you can do to cure your dissociation.
How Do I Know If I’m Dissociating?
Often people can be unaware that they are dissociating until afterward when they realize they feel like they “black out” for a while. Sometimes, people are aware that they’re experiencing dissociation. They might feel like they are in a dream and that they’re watching themselves.
If you’re “watching yourself” and want to connect with reality again, taking steps to constantly ground yourself is a great place to start.
What Triggers Dissociation?
Usually trauma. People who have experienced some form of trauma will experience dissociation as a result. Often, “blacking out” happens when the brain is triggered and it’s trying to protect you from experiencing the same trauma that you did in the past.
Is Zoning Out The Same As Dissociation?
The short answer, yes. Usually people zone out due to fatigue or stress. But the typical “zone out” is nothing to be concerned about, unless it puts people in danger. Zoning out can cause problems, for example, while driving or doing some other task that requires your full attention.
While zoning out is considered a form of dissociation, it is generally very mild and can actually be more helpful than harmful. Zoning out may be the brain’s way of temporarily avoiding stress. This is not helpful when you’re in the middle of a boring work project, but it can help you cope with feelings of stress for a short time.
Causes of Mental Dissociation
Trauma is the cause of any type of dissociation. Whether it’s witnessed or experienced, trauma can have huge effects on someone’s mental and emotional health.
Witnessing a Traumatic Event. Contrary to what some may believe, witnessing a traumatic event is enough to induce severe PTSD. When someone witnesses something traumatic (for the first time especially) they might be in an unfathomable amount of shock.
They may come to the realization of how fragile life is, the extreme amount of danger that is around or some other eye opening experience. Depending on how gruesome the traumatic event is, they might develop a mental illness such as dissociation due to the “second hand” trauma. Any experience of significant trauma can cause an individual to develop some type of dissociation.
Depending on how empathetic the individual is, their mental capacities and other personalized situations, experiencing a traumatic event can effect someone as if they were the one experiencing their trauma first-hand.
Other examples of mental disorders that may develop as a result of trauma (particularly childhood trauma) may include anxiety, depression, personality disorders and eating disorders.
Experiencing a Traumatic Event. When a traumatic event presents itself, processing the event may vary. Everyone interprets stress and trauma differently. Experiencing any level of trauma may trigger dissociation depending on the individual.
Examples of trauma that have been known to cause dissociation may include (but are not limited to) instances such as rape, a robbery, kidnapping, house fire or other near death experiences.
Childhood Abuse. Dissociation often occurs due to childhood abuse or severe neglect. This is because the mental capacity and extreme vulnerability of a child. Dissociation is a coping mechanism meant to protect the person from experiencing (or reliving) the initial event.
Physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuse of a child may cause them to develop some form of dissociation over time. Many mental disorders that develop over time due to trauma are simply the mind’s way of coping in the moment.
Hereditary Traits. Just as with certain personality disorders, anxiety and depression tendencies, dissociation traits may be passed down from your parents. This is simply due to the genetic make up of you. Some people are naturally more anxious, fearful or depressed. Perhaps you inherited susceptibility to react with dissociation when experiencing trauma.
Fortunately, like more hereditary disorders/mental illnesses, we have the ability to “turn the ship around” for future generations. Taking care of your mental and physical health and receiving appropriate treatment, can bring healing and mental wellness.
If you or someone you know keeps experiencing episodes of dissociation, it’s probably time to talk to your doctor and see a therapist. Sometimes stress can be such a “normal” part of our lives that we do not realize just how much stress our bodies and minds are dealing with.
Stress can not only cause dissociation, but it can weaken your immune system and can even lead to the development of certain diseases.