Dissociation is a phenomenon estimated to occur at least once in the lifetimes of roughly 75 percent of people. It is defined by a sudden involuntary break from reality, often caused by severe trauma. Dissociative feelings may be triggered by an attempt from the mind to separate oneself from a violent or abusive situation. However, no two dissociative experiences are necessarily alike, and the way dissociation occurs can vary greatly. Some people might recall it as an out-of-body experience. Others feel detached from their own identity temporarily, as though they were inside someone else.
In teens with dissociative disorders, these breaks from reality are often far more severe, far more prolonged, and/or far more common. Roughly 2 percent of people qualify for chronic episodes, which may be considered a dissociative disorder. Dissociative disorders vary in severity and don’t always lead to drastic outcomes such as split personalities and total depersonalization. Other examples include dissociative amnesia, and symptoms of perceiving events to be unreal or surreal.