5 Signs Of Dissociative Disorder

Disclaimer: this article and quiz are not professional diagnoses. If any of the symptoms in this article resonate, please talk to a licensed therapist. 

Choose whichever answer closely relates to you.

Do you experience frequent gaps in your memory?

a. Yes, all the time.  b. Yes, sometimes. 

c. Once in a while. d. No, not frequently.

Do your surroundings seem, at times, 2-dimensional?

a. Yes, it happens a lot. b. Sometimes. 

c. No? d. No ( what are you talking about?).  

Do you feel detached from yourself?

a. Yes, it’s like I’m watching myself.  b. Sometimes

c. Not really d. Never

If you answered A to most of them, there is some chance that you may be experiencing a dissociative disorder. 

In quotidian vernacular, many use the word dissociate a lot–sometimes, as a passing comment and occasionally as a joke. 

However, dissociation can point to unresolved trauma. Dissociating is more than zoning out. It is a coping mechanism against trauma, and over the long run, it affects your thoughts, emotional state, memories, and even your sense of identity. 

Although it is a helpful tactic, frequent dissociative events make life difficult, as they are disruptive to everyday life. 

So, what are some types of dissociation?

There are three types of dissociation: dissociative identity disorder, dissociative amnesia, and depersonalization/derealization disorder. 

While each type has different symptomatology, they share various traits. Below are a few signs of dissociative disorder. 

  • Feeling detached

Detachment is a key sign of a dissociative disorder. 

You feel detached from others, your surroundings, and yourself. It is an easily recognizable trait for those who experience depersonalization or derealization. 

However, it takes self-awareness to realize if you are feeling distant from yourself.  

Take some time to check in with yourself and reconnect if you feel a bit removed from yourself. 

  • Blurred sense of identity

Along with a feeling of detachment, you can also experience a sense of blurred identity. A blurred sense of identity may feel like you’ve distanced yourself from your core values or like you don’t recognize yourself. 

If you feel distant or from yourself, do things that will help bolster your sense of self. Explore some things you may have stopped doing, do things authentically, and always reach out to a therapist if you need help. 

  • Memory gaps

Another common sign of dissociation is memory gaps. Memory gaps are not due to external factors or medications but occur without any easily recognizable trigger. Noticing memory gaps is difficult because you are unaware you missed anything; hence, it is usually a worrisome sign to see. 

A great way to become aware of potential memory gaps is by journaling. Keep a journal of everything you plan to do that day or week. 

  • Inability to cope with stress.

Dissociation is a response to stressful situations. A straightforward way to recognize dissociation early is by measuring your stress tolerance. If you notice that stress affects your more than usual, your brain may soon resort to dissociation to cope. 

Clear signs of an inability to cope with stress include irritability, hypersensitivity, and persistent fatigue. If you are overwhelmed with stress, take a step back and do less. It is easy to get overwhelmed by pressing tasks, but sometimes, to do more it is best to start with little. If doing less does not seem like an option, do something that helps you release stress. For example, exercising, dancing, and painting are all great alternatives. 

  • Unreal surroundings

Another characteristic of dissociation is a sense of unrealness. Surroundings can feel like props on a set or part of a 2D painting. This symptom is typical in cases of derealization. 

Derealization is a type of dissociative disorder, but derealization symptoms can also persist in other types of dissociative disorders. To be classified as a symptom of a dissociative disorder, the unrealness of your surroundings must not be caused by external factors. 

If you notice frequent moments of derealization, reach out to a therapist for help and guidance. 

Dissociation disorders can also be comorbid with other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. If you notice any signs discussed in this article and want help, reach out to a therapist. The therapist can guide you through CBT or talk therapy and offer an open and safe space for you to talk.


American Psychological Association. (2022). Apa Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from https://dictionary.apa.org/dissociative-disorder 

Cleveland Clinic. (2018, March 28). Dissociative disorders: Types, causes, symptoms & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17749-dissociative-disorders- 

Dissociative Disorders. (Jun 29, 2022). Traumadissociation.com. Retrieved Jun 29, 2022, from http://traumadissociation.com/dissociative. 

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017, November 17). Dissociative disorders. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355215 

Wang, P. (2018, August). What are dissociative disorders? Psychiatry.org – What Are Dissociative Disorders? Retrieved June 29, 2022, from https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/dissociative-disorders/what-are-dissociative-disorders 

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