Is PTSD the least common dissociative disorder?

No, PTSD is not the least common dissociative disorder. Dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder) is actually the most commonly diagnosed of the four major dissociative disorders. It is estimated that around two to three percent of the population may experience some form of DID in their lifetime, compared with approximately eight percent for PTSD. Dissociative amnesia and depersonalization-derealization disorder are much less frequently seen than either PTSD or DID. The prevalence rate for depersonalization-derealization disorder has been estimated at 0.8%, while that for dissociative amnesia is somewhat higher at 1–2%.

I. An Overview of Dissociative Disorders

It is important to understand that Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is only one type of dissociative disorder and not the least common. Dissociative disorders are a category of mental health conditions characterized by disruptions in a person’s normal sense of identity, often resulting from traumatic events or experiences. Other forms include depersonalization disorder, derealization disorder, dissociative amnesia and dissociative fugue.

The main symptom of any form of dissociation is the feeling that one’s self or environment has been altered in some way. This can manifest as a physical sensation – such as seeing oneself outside the body – as an emotional experience – such as sudden fear or panic attacks – or as a psychological phenomenon – like an inability to remember past events, sudden changes in beliefs and opinions, or even confusion about personal identity. These symptoms can lead to feelings of detachment, difficulties maintaining relationships, concentration problems, and insomnia.

With treatment from medical professionals experienced in trauma and PTSD management strategies, individuals with any kind of dissociative disorder can be helped with creating healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with their condition. That said, it is essential to recognize all types of these rare but serious conditions beyond just PTSD so sufferers receive appropriate support on their road to recovery.

II. Understanding PTSD as a Dissociative Disorder

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a severe psychological disorder that may be triggered by exposure to very traumatic experiences. It is estimated to affect between 3 and 6 percent of the global population in any given year. As such, it is classified as one of the most common dissociative disorders.

While PTSD is best known for its debilitating symptoms, there are also several other aspects that must be considered when attempting to understand its status as a dissociative disorder. It can manifest with physical signs and symptoms associated with anxiety and stress levels; this includes muscle tension, restlessness, fatigue, headaches, chest pain and difficulty concentrating. Those who suffer from PTSD often experience periods of intense fearfulness or flashbacks to their traumatic event(s) which further contribute to an inability to cope with daily life functions efficiently.

The intensity of these reactions varies greatly depending on the individual’s circumstances and ability to cope following the trauma they have experienced. As well as this immediate reaction period in which people go through heightened emotions within short amounts of time (known as ‘freezing’), chronic forms of PTSD can persist over months or years if left untreated. This means that although PTSD might initially appear to be less severe than some other common dissociative disorders – such as DID (formerly MPD) – it can actually carry serious long-term implications if not addressed appropriately via therapy and/or medication management.

III. Prevalence Rates of Different Dissociative Disorders

The prevalence of dissociative disorders in the general population is often under-recognized. A recent study has identified three main types of dissociative disorder that are known to be most common: depersonalization/derealization, dissociative amnesia, and dissociative identity disorder (DID). Among these, DID appears to be the most severe form of dissociation experienced by individuals. However, there have been increasing reports of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in recent years.

According to a National Comorbidity Survey Replication Report from 2017 conducted on over 9000 respondents across the U.S. It was found that 3% of adults were affected by PTSD. Dissociative Identity Disorder was only diagnosed in 0.1%, making it one of the least common among all other forms of psychiatric illness. Although this number may appear small compared to PTSD’s rate, keep in mind that DID is an especially complex condition involving memory loss or blackouts and multiple personalities split off from one’s conscious awareness – symptoms which can prove more difficult for diagnosis and treatment than even more conventional mental health issues like depression or anxiety.

In contrast with these figures, another survey showed that depersonalisation/derealisation had a lifetime prevalence rate of around 37%. This makes depersonalisation/derealisation up to twelve times more common than PTSD – still much less severe but far more frequent among those who suffer from at least some type of dissociative symptomatology. Despite its relative rarity as a diagnosed disorder when compared with others such as depression or anxiety, this highlights just how pervasive dissociation can be among people both nationally and globally – regardless whether it takes shape through post traumatic stress disorder or other forms like depersonalisation/derealisation.

IV. Examining the Incidence of Other Dissociative Disorders

The discussion of PTSD being the least common dissociative disorder needs to be put in context by taking a look at the occurrence rates of other dissociative conditions. Dissociative identity disorder is widely considered to be the most prevalent among its peers, with some studies citing incidence as high as 4% – 6%. Compared to this, depersonalization-derealization disorder (DPDR) appears much less commonly reported, usually hovering between 0.2-0.6%. Several different factors seem to contribute to why DPDR is comparatively rarer than PTSD and DID. These can include difficulties diagnosing the condition due to patients having trouble verbalizing their symptoms, barriers concerning access to mental health care services for those who may need treatment for DPDR, and even the possibility that people do not realize they have been living with it all along due to lack of knowledge about the affliction’s symptoms and prevalence.

Moving further on down the spectrum there are reports of fugue states occurring in about 0.003% of all adults over 18 years old who responded positively to certain survey questions; this rate only climbs up from there if looking at military populations or those experiencing periods of psychological stress like combat veterans or refugees from natural disasters which increase their chances of developing such disorders tenfold. Multiple personality disorder (MPD), while relatively obscure now compared to what one might find in fiction novels or movies released decades ago, still holds an estimated prevalence rate of roughly 0.0001% – albeit with no real consensus on how many individuals affected by it go undiagnosed every year making this statistic more so an educated guess rather than a confirmed fact established through rigorous studies over time.

V. Factors Contributing to the Rarity of PTSD compared to Other Dissociative Disorders

There are certain elements that contribute to PTSD being the least common dissociative disorder. People with PTSD tend not to suffer from fragmentation of identity or amnesia like other disorders, and so it is often misdiagnosed as a different type of mental health issue. The traumatic event that triggers PTSD can be hard to pin down due to its past nature making it difficult for individuals and professionals alike to identify.

Moreover, there is also a social stigma that surrounds living with PTSD which means some may feel reluctant to come forward and seek professional help – both because they do not want others knowing about their struggles and due to the lack of accessible information available surrounding this specific condition. This serves as another factor preventing it from being diagnosed correctly more frequently than other dissociative disorders.

The internal effects of suffering from PTSD such as anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts and nightmares can be mistaken for other medical issues or simply regarded as ‘part-and-parcel’ of daily life for many people who experience them; thereby leading doctors away from seeing all of these symptoms in one larger picture altogether.

VI. Diagnosis and Treatment Considerations for PTSD

In order to effectively diagnose Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), clinicians must take an in-depth look at the patient’s history and exposure to trauma. A careful examination of past events will help uncover any PTSD symptoms, such as nightmares, intrusive thoughts, lack of concentration, difficulty sleeping, and feeling disconnected from others. It is important for professionals to note the presence of any co-occurring mental health disorders. It is also essential to take into account whether or not medication was taken during the traumatic event.

When assessing for PTSD diagnosis and treatment considerations for treatments are always a priority. There are many evidence-based therapies available that can be utilized by clinicians when treating patients with this dissociative disorder. Examples include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns as well as Exposure Therapy which works on desensitizing individuals to their traumatic memories through gradual exposure over time until they no longer fear them. Other psychological interventions such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have been shown to reduce symptoms of re-experiencing a trauma without having patients face those memories again while other mindfulness practices like meditation may also improve functioning after traumatizing experiences.

Medication may play an important role in treating PTSD though should be prescribed carefully alongside counseling interventions if indicated by a clinician after initial assessment of potential risk factors or areas that need targetted improvement related to clients’ traumatic experiences. Different classes of medications like anti-depressants, tranquilizers or mood stabilizers can all aid in reducing anxiety levels that come along with high levels of stress caused by unresolved posttraumatic issues so consulting a doctor first before taking these medications is highly advised before jumping into self medication options without proper understanding risks associated with psychiatric drugs they contain.

VII. Addressing the Misconceptions Surrounding PTSD and its Classification among Dissociative Disorders

Misconceptions and stigmas surrounding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) make it difficult to accurately diagnose and treat this debilitating condition. People may be reluctant to seek treatment for PTSD due to the false belief that its symptoms are nonexistent or insignificant, that only certain people can experience it, or that seeking treatment could somehow reflect negatively on them. These myths not only hinder individuals from properly managing their symptoms but also impede scientific understanding of the disorder itself.

A major obstacle complicating our view of PTSD is its relationship with other dissociative disorders – namely depersonalization/derealization disorder (DD), dissociative amnesia (DA), and dissociative identity disorder (DID). Although some experts claim DID is the most commonly diagnosed form of dissociation, recent research suggests that PTSD is more frequently observed in clinical practice than other types of dissociation. Though DD and DA are often mischaracterized as signs of PTSD, they actually constitute distinct conditions requiring specialized care. Research shows that these three entities have unique characteristics; however, similarities between them should not lead clinicians to overlook any symptom related to a diagnosis.

In order to dispel fallacies regarding each form of dissociation and mental health awareness overall, there needs to be increased public education on how PTS affects individuals differently than other forms of disassociation. As long as we continue conversations about both false assumptions concerning mentally ill patients and the difficulty many face in gaining access to quality healthcare resources, further progress in addressing common misunderstandings will be made possible.

About the author.
Jay Roberts is the founder of the Debox Method and after nearly 10 years and hundreds of sessions, an expert in the art of emotional release to remove the negative effects of trauma. Through his book, courses, coaching, and talks Jay’s goal is to teach as many people as he can the power of the Debox Method. 

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