Dissociation and Anxiety
Dissociation can occur in the context of any of the anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Specific Phobias
In this context, dissociation occurs to protect you from the constant anxiety & stress put on your system by your anxiety disorder.
Most often, this does not happen at a conscious level.
A cycle can also develop in which your dissociative symptoms cause you to worry and have anxiety, requiring more dissociation to cope with the increased anxiety and so on.
In this case it’s important to identify the worry thoughts associated with the dissociation to decide how to best de-escalate the cycle. In my experience it is often related to fears that the dissociation means something terrible.
Typically, when dissociation occurs in this context, the best course of action is to treat the underlying anxiety disorder.
That way, your brain no longer has a reason to need the protection that dissociation offers.
And when experiencing dissociation, practicing grounding skills is most helpful.
Grounding skills that help reconnect you to the here and now, and your body are best.
Prevention strategies that will help both your anxiety and the dissociation include getting enough sleep and exercise each day. Reduce potential triggers of alcohol, drugs, and caffeine. Be kind to yourself.