For people in the UK, there are two ways to go about investigating dissociative disorders (using that as the catch-all term for everything on the dissociative symptom spectrum).
The first option to to straight-out ask your GP, if you have an alright relationship with them. As the majority of GP’s won’t be knowledgeable about dissociation, that will probably involve bringing some information about it to the appointment. It would also be best to specifically asking for a referral to the Clinic for Dissociative Studies, rather than a local psychologist.
If you’re not sure how your GP will respond, or want extra support in the decision beforehand, then another option is to contact the Pottergate Centre, a dissociation-focused organisation with an office in Norwich, UK. They have an online contact option, where you can get two dissociation screening tests from them, and send the tests back to them to be analysed, all for free. You can then take the results, and their analysis, to your GP- they will also include extra information about dissociation with the results.
This method, asking the Pottergate Centre, is how I’m taking my first steps into exploring whether my experiences fit a dissociative disorder, and if so, whether getting a diagnosis is a good idea.
I emailed the Pottergate Centre to sort out the preliminary test, and was sent the screening materials the next day. The screening materials are the Dissociative Experiences Scale (a general test for many areas of dissociative symptoms), and the Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire (a test for unexplained physical symptoms that are associated/may be caused by dissociation and its accompanying anxiety). Both tests are fairly simple; I finished and returned mine that day.
Two days later, I got the analysis back. For the DES, a score of over 30 means someone is highly likely to have a dissociative disorder. I’m not sure of the statistics for the SDQ, as it was a tool I’d never come across before.
“It is clear from the DES that you have significant symptoms of dissociation and are likely to have a Dissociative Disorder under DSMIV criteria. This can only be confirmed by undertaking a SCID-D assessment.”
While I was 99% sure this would be the answer, it’s still strange to read that opinion from someone else’s view.
Step two is communicating these results to my GP. I wasn’t sure how to go about this- in all honestly, I would probably have procrastinated after getting the preliminary results, not going to the GP unless I had to. (I am with seeing doctors as many people are with dentists aka not going unless it’s absolutely necessary and hating it all the while).
However, the person from the Centre said in their emails that they can send a copy of the results to my GP, along with more information about dissociation. That pushes me over that second hurdle. It’s made the whole thing more achievable, in theory; I would then just need to make an appointment, and ask them to refer me based on what they’ve already received. So I took that option, and I’m guessing I’ll hear back when they’ve sent the information on.
Logically, it’s pointless to take the first step and not the second, so that’s very good motivation to keep going. I’m still nervous about it though.