Does Your Spouse Need Treatment for Dissociation? How to Recognize a Real Mental Health Disorder

The symptoms of dissociation can be overwhelmingly distressing as one is in a constant struggle with trauma altered reality. If your partner has a dissociative disorder or other mental health disorder involving dissociation, they are at risk of compounding pain and distress until they receive the necessary treatment. They will find healing only with compassionate professional guidance in a comprehensive treatment program.

Perhaps you’ve felt frustrated at times when your partner seems to be absent from the moment, when they’re not really listening to you, when they’re not connecting emotionally—let alone expressing those emotions. If your partner is experiencing dissociation, these challenges are much more than just neglect or lack of focus. Your spouse may not appear to be in immense distress, but there is likely terrible pain and trauma under the surface.

Dissociation as a mental health symptom is a serious issue because the original traumatic trigger they experienced was serious—something they haven’t been able to process ever since. It has been internalized and blocked and has likely expanded to proportions much more devastating than when it was already too much to handle in the first place.

They need help. And the healing process is a vulnerable one, so it’s important for dissociation treatment to happen under expert psychiatric care.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Dissociative Disorders?

Most often related to trauma, dissociation is an internal mechanism that attempts to protect a person from extreme and overwhelming distress. The experience of dissociation can arise in many forms and symptoms:

  • Numbness, mental or emotional
  • Memory loss relating to a specific event or series of events, people, periods of time, and even aspects of one’s identity
  • Feelings of detachment from oneself: their body, mind, emotions, or identity
  • Feeling as if the environment and the things around them are distorted or unreal
  • Out-of-body experiences
  • Difficulty integrating or experiencing clearly one’s sense of self and identity
  • Feeling that time is distorted, faster, or slower than it really is


As a result of these unsettling symptoms of dissociation, someone may also experience:

  • Depression, anxiety, or other mental health symptoms
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Psychotic symptoms, such as auditory hallucinations and delusions
  • Unplanned travel or wandering in a confused or otherwise altered state

Each person’s experience of trauma and dissociation is unique. And there are a variety of recognized dissociative disorders, including dissociative identity disorder, depersonalization disorder, derealization disorder, and dissociative amnesia disorder. Dissociation can also arise due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder. If your spouse is experiencing dissociative symptoms, it’s critical that they receive a professional diagnosis as soon as possible. Only with expert care can you safely prevent further cognitive and emotional damage and help them turn the corner toward recovery.

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What Are the Risks of Avoiding Treatment for Dissociation?

In a manner of speaking, avoidance has been the root problem in your partner’s dissociation to begin with. The original avoidance of trauma was likely unconscious and automatic, like an instinctive defense mechanism for survival. Their experiences of subsequent breaks from reality have continued to shield them from the enormous pain they might be feeling, but this reactive avoidance does not take the pain away. Instead, they are stuck in a loop of distress and dissociation that likely compounds as time goes on. The only way their suffering can lift is by very carefully and very gradually processing that pain.

So, the overall risk of avoiding dissociation treatment is the persistence and expansion of their painful symptoms, as well as the fracturing of their sense of reality. And, as a result, they are at greater risk of struggling through even ordinary daily tasks, making connections with you and with others, and succeeding with work or other responsibilities. They may also be more vulnerable to physical, mental, and emotional dangers in the future because of their increasing inability to cope.

How Can You Get Help for Your Spouse?

The task of healing from dissociation involves learning to cope with the pain that is already there and with future pain and stress—and coping in ways that are healthy, productive, and grounding. In addition, someone with a dissociative disorder must reintegrate the fractured aspects of their identity and their reality. This healing journey is, understandably, a long and difficult one. And it’s not a process that can be accomplished without knowledgeable guidance and psychiatric safeguarding to prevent further mental and emotional damage. But the treatment options and outcomes are improving all the time. You can help them to find this life-changing help now.

Clinical care can help to:

  1. Stabilize your partner’s dissociative symptoms with a combination of treatments and therapies.
  2. Develop coping strategies to integrate their traumatic past and to deal with distress and trauma in the future.
  3. Redevelop their grounded sense of self and reality so they can maintain functional and emotional stability.


In an immersive healing environment, they’ll be able to develop a trusting and productive relationship with a clinician. This is called a therapeutic alliance, and it enables the most positive progression of treatment while minimizing retraumatization and acute distress. Only when your spouse feels supported and empowered can they approach the trauma that has been devastating them for so long. Different individuals will require different approaches to therapy, which is why a comprehensive treatment center is an ideal setting for them to find customized holistic care. And, through such a program, you will also have access to therapeutic and strategic support. Moving forward from residential treatment, with all of the awareness and effective tools in hand, your relationship can be a truly healing environment.

If you’re concerned about a loved one and believe they may need residential care, we can help. BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with complex mental health illnesses and co-occurring disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.