Dissociative Disorders are mental health disorders characterized by a sudden temporary alteration in consciousness, identity, motor behavior, memory, emotion, perception, and sense of self. Dissociative symptoms can potentially disrupt every area of mental functioning.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) recognizes three dissociative disorders:

Dissociative Amnesia -

  • The main symptom is memory loss that's more severe than normal forgetfulness and that can't be explained by a medical condition.
  • Inability to recall information about self, events, or people in one's life, especially from a traumatic time.
  • Can be specific to events in a certain time, such as intense combat, or more rarely, can involve complete loss of memory about self.
  • It may sometimes involve dissociative fugue states
  • An episode of amnesia usually occurs suddenly and may last minutes, hours, or rarely, months or years

Dissociative Identity Disorder -

  • The existence of two or more distinct identities (or “personality states”). The distinct identities are accompanied by changes in behavior, memory and thinking. The signs and symptoms may be observed by others or reported by the individual.
  • Ongoing gaps in memory about everyday events, personal information and/or past traumatic events.
  • The symptoms cause significant distress or problems in social, occupational or other areas of functioning.
  • In addition, the disturbance must not be a normal part of a broadly accepted cultural or religious practice.

Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder (involves significant ongoing or recurring experience of one or both conditions) -

  • Depersonalization – experiences of unreality or detachment from one’s mind, self or body. People may feel as if they are outside their bodies and watching events happening to them.
  • Derealization – experiences of unreality or detachment from one’s surroundings. People may feel as if things and people in the world around them are not real.

For more information regarding dissociative disorders, click here.

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assessment Mental Health Disorder DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria