How to Cope with...

Three emojis dissociating

What is Dissociation?

Dissociation is a defense mechanism that helps the mind cope with distress. Dissociation involves disconnecting oneself/psyche from threatening ideas, feelings, situations and traumatic experiences (American Psychological Association, 2022; Connor,  2015).

What Causes Dissociation?

People often experience dissociation when they feel powerless to do anything to change or stop a traumatic event.


Symptoms of dissociation may include memory loss (amnesia), a perception of people and things around you appearing unreal or distorted, blurred sense of identity, relationship problems, inability to cope well, and the onset of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

Possible Outcomes

Although dissociation can be a normal coping mechanism, it may also disrupt personal functioning. Consciousness, identity, memory and awareness of self and/or surroundings may be disturbed.


Prior to COVID-19, roughly 2% of the US population reported experiences of dissociation that was disruptive to personal functioning. Following COVID-19, roughly 11% of the US population reported experiences of dissociation that disrupted personal functioning (Kate, Hopwood & Jamieson, 2020).

Effective Coping Strategies

Although, this is not an exhaustive list, effective stress management and relaxation techniques for dissociation may include grounding & breathing techniques, proper sleep, regular physical activity, listening to music, reading and guided imagery.

grounding techniques
guided imagery

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The suggested techniques provided on this website are not exhaustive, but rather a small sample of helpful tools. Always remember that when in doubt reach out to a mental health professional . For additional supports and resources visit the NAMI Southwest Ohio or NAMI Northern Kentucky website.
If immediate assistance is needed, call 988 (Suicide and Crisis Lifeline).
Developed resources in this website are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (Nih) under cooperative agreement number: UG4LM013724 and Northern Kentucky University (NKU) Institute of Health Innovation (IHI).