Dissociation and dissociative disorders

Explains what dissociation and dissociative disorders are, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

Your stories

Dissociative disorder: losing myself and finding myself

James describes his experiences of living with dissociative disorder and how he managed to re-find himself.

Posted on 30/10/2014

Depersonalisation: My four months of terror

Callum talks about his experiences of depersonalisation and how confronting it helped him address his anxiety.

Posted on 12/09/2018

My Christmas with BPD

Kayleigh blogs on how her black-or-white thinking makes Christmas really difficult.

Posted on 30/11/2016

What is non-epileptic attack disorder (NEAD)?

Some people with dissociative disorders also experience physical symptoms such as seizures. These seizures don't seem to have a physical cause. These are called dissociative seizures or non-epileptic attacks. You may be given the diagnosis of non-epileptic attack disorder (NEAD).

Although they don't have a physical cause, this does not mean that they are not real or that you are acting.

If you have a dissociative seizure you may:

  • have convulsions of the arms, legs, head or body (on one side or affecting the whole body)
  • lose control of your bladder
  • bite your tongue
  • go blank or stare in an unseeing way
  • have other symptoms that look like epilepsy

My own non-epileptic seizures are similar to a tonic epileptic seizure - going stiff and rigid, gasping. This is combined with visual disturbances.

It is thought that dissociative seizures are caused by the brain dealing with overwhelming stress by 'shutting down'. You can find out more about non-epileptic attacks on:

This information was published in March 2019. We will revise it in 2022.

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