Dysphoria is a psychological state that often accompanies a mental health condition and is most commonly caused by stress, grief, or relationship difficulties. Mental illnesses associated with dysphoric mood include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (mood swings accompanying menstrual cycles)
- Chronic stress
- Morbid rumination (obsessive overthinking of trivial things)
- Drug-induced dysphoria (often seen in cannabis users)
- Withdrawal of alcohol or drugs
- Dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder)
- Longstanding pain due to chronic diseases
General symptoms of dysphoria may include:
How is dysphoria treated?
Group therapies such as Alcoholic Anonymous, or psychiatric treatment using mood-enhancing drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or haloperidol in the case of schizophrenia, may also be effective.
What is gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is a type of dysphoria where mental distress and unease are caused when a person’s assigned sex at birth doesn’t match the gender they identify with. For example, someone may be assigned female sex at birth may that they are a male, and vice versa.
This disconnect often begins in childhood, but some people become more aware of gender dysphoria during puberty. Gender dysphoria affects transgender and intersex people, as well as others who believe they cannot be assigned a fixed gender.
Signs of gender dysphoria in children and teens may include the following:
- Consistently saying they are a girl, even though they have the physical traits of a boy or the other way round
- Refusing to pee the way other boys or girls typically do
- Preferring to play with friends of the sex with which they identify
- Extreme distress about body changes that happen during puberty
- Feeling disgusted with their genitalia, and may avoid showering or changing clothes to avoid seeing or touching their genitals
- Strong desire to get rid of their genitals and other sex traits and instead have the genitals of the sex with which they identify
- Temper tantrums, depression, aggressive behavior, poor performance in school, drug and alcohol addiction, and depression
How is gender dysphoria treated?
Adults with gender dysphoria may experience identity crises and even indulge in self-harm. It’s important to recognize symptoms of the condition and seek professional help to prevent the risk of depression, addiction, and suicide.
Some people with gender dysphoria may not desire psychological treatment, although a mental health professional can guide them through the transition of accepting and embodying the gender they identify with. This may take several years, and sometimes involve surgery or hormonal treatments.
If surgeries are not desired or possible, individual counseling, family counseling, drugs to help with depression, and an inclusive environment at work can help individuals with gender dysphoria reduce their symptoms.
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