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Treatments for Dissociative Disorders

The following treatment guidelines are meant as a reference tool only, and are not intended as treatment advice or to replace the clinical decision-making process of psychiatrists or other health professionals who administer these treatments. In clinical practice there are often good reasons why treatment approaches differ from what is described here.

 

There is surprisingly little high-quality research that has been done on treatments for Dissociative Disorders [ref].

Long-term psychotherapy, either with a psychodynamic or cognitive-behavioral focus, seems to be the most commonly used approach for treating Dissociative Identity Disorder, though the reported success rates are not high [ref, ref]. The kind of treatment approaches used for Complex PTSD would be appropriate for Dissociative Identity Disorder as well [ref].

For people with Dissociative Amnesia or Dissociative Fugues, it is not even clear what the appropriate treatment approach would be. Hypnosis or barbiturate-assisted interviews have traditionally been the method for retrieving repressed memories, but there is not much empirical evidence to show that this actually works, and moreover, it is not clear what the real advantage would be of retrieving these memories [ref].

A study of patients with Depersonalization Disorder found that about 25% reported some improvement with psychotherapy, about 40% responded to SSRI antidepressants, and 50% experienced improvement with benzodiazepines [ref].

Given that Dissociative Disorders are associated with high rates of other psychiatric conditions, it is important the treatments be provided for these other conditions as well.

 

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Course & Prevalence

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