People affected with dissociative disorders chronically escape their reality in involuntary, unhealthy ways ranging from suppressing memories to assuming alternate identities. There are four major dissociative disorders: dissociative amnesia; dissociative identity disorder; dissociative fugue; and depersonalization disorder. Common symptoms include memory loss of certain time periods, events and people; mental health problems; depersonalization; derealization; and a blurred sense of identity. Dissociative disorders usually develop as a mechanism for coping with trauma.
Treatment for dissociative disorders may include psychotherapy, hypnosis and medication. Creative art therapy and cognitive therapy may also help in treating this condition. The Ayurvedic treatment of dissociative disorders is aimed at treating the basic cause of this condition and preventing complications like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, severe headaches, sleep disorders, alcoholism, substance abuse, sexual dysfunction, self-mutilation and suicide attempts.
Medicines like Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Brahmi-Vati, Khurasani-ova (Hyoscyamus niger), Brahmi-Ghrut, Unmaad-Gaj-Kesari, Sutshekhar and Maha-Vat-Vidhvans are used in high doses to treat anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and the original dissociative disorder. An addition of Suvarna-Bhasma, Abhrak-Bhasma, Trivang-Bhasma and Laxmi-Vilas-Ras to the above mentioned medicines helps in increasing the therapeutic response
Different Panchkarma procedures can be used to treat patients with dissociative disorders. A whole-body massage is done using medicated oils like Mahanarayan oil, Mahamash oil and Mahasaindhav oil. The patient is asked to consume regularly medicated ghees like Brahmi-Ghrut, Panch-Gavya-Ghrut and Kalyanak-Ghrut, in high doses. These two procedures comprise the ‘Snehan’ therapy. Medicated enemas are given using Dashmool-Qadha and Sahachar oil. ‘Nasya’ therapy is done using medicated nose drops like Vacha oil, Marich (Piper nigrum) and Gud-Sunthi. The three combined procedures of nasya, snehan and medicated enemas initially have only a physical effect, however, on being repeated periodically they help to control the ‘Vata dosha’ and gradually help in controlling the dissociative features. ‘Shirobasti’ or ‘Shirodhara’ procedures may be used temporarily to sedate highly excited or disturbed patients.
Patients affected with dissociative disorders should be in regular touch with a Psychiatrist and a Counselor. They should establish a family and friend support system. Although the course of therapy can be difficult, many people with dissociative disorders are able to learn new ways of coping and lead healthy, productive lives.