- Dysphoria is not an illness by itself.
- It is a generic mental state of unhappiness, tenseness, and annoyance.
- Dysphoria causes mental uneasiness and an overall disappointment with life.
- It is a symptom linked with many other mental disorders such as depression, generalized anxiety, substance abuse, bipolar disorder.
- One of the main types is gender dysphoria. The major signs include sadness, worry, and a general feeling of mental uneasiness.
- It can be treated with talk therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and medication.
Have you ever felt that you are not happy in your own skin? Do you feel that there is something not going well in your life? Are you in a state of frustration, mental agitation, or general discontent?
Is your everyday living irks you day and night? This mental state of frustration, agony and emotional uneasiness is known as Dysphoria.
You are in the grip of unhappiness and gloom, anger and frustration, worries and stress. This means an overall dissatisfaction with life.
Many people refer to this mental state as extremely agonizing. They feel the pain deep within but cannot explain it to others.
From the outset, a person suffering from Dysphoria appears sad, anguished, and broken. They seem to hold on to the last bits of support that they may be having in their life.
Always standing on the edge, life seems difficult and full of angst and suffering. Dysphoria is not a mental disorder all by itself.
But it is one of the symptoms that accompany major depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.
Let us learn more on this topic….
Dysphoria – Meaning
Dysphoria is the opposite of euphoria. It means an overall state of psychological uneasiness, coupled with gloom, worry, uneasiness, and mental wear and tear. It refers to being in a state of overpowering grief and emotional weariness.
Dysphoria is a symptom that can lead to several mental illnesses. It is not a diagnosable mental disorder on its own. People suffering from Dysphoria may suffer from depressive symptoms.
A general lack of psychological well-being is seen in their behavior. If you are suffering from Dysphoria, you will always remain in a state of mental restlessness.
Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and general apathy will keep you distant and aloof from social situations.
Dysphoria may lead to low self-esteem, extreme levels of unhappiness, and mental tension.
The person loses inner peace and always feels overwhelmed. They are in the grip of pessimism and a feeling of no hope in life.
Sometimes dysphoria can be a fleeting sign as well. The symptoms may come and fade away on their own but if the condition becomes a long-term problem, it may lead to more severe forms of mental illnesses.
Dysphoria leads to depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorder, and many other psychiatric illnesses.
Most often Dysphoria refers to an unhappy mood and grief. Thus, this emotional state never allows the person to look into the bright side of life.
If someone experiences dysphoria and it’s not getting better in any way, it might increase the chances of suicide as well.
In such a situation, immediate medical advice should be taken from a therapist or mental health professional.
The signs of Dysphoria resemble bad mood, pessimism, and lack of interest in doing pleasurable activities in pleasurable activities. People usually describe the following symptom:
- Mental tiredness
- Short attention span
- Constant worries
- Hopeless feelings
- Mood swings
- Agitated with mild provocation
- Poor eating habits because of low appetite
- Difficulty in initiation and maintenance of sleep
- No satisfaction from life
- Always feels less than others
- Poor self-esteem
- Broken self-image
- Low energy level
- Substance abuse
- Feels traumatized for past hurts
- Carrying emotional baggage and inability to get out of grief
- Constant rumination over unnecessary matters
- Anticipatory anxiety when there is no real threat around.
Types of Dysphoria
In today’s world, Dysphoria is a term used to describe a condition known as gender dysphoria. This was previously known as gender identity disorder.
People with Dysphoria see the world through bleak eyes. Their low life satisfaction makes them feel bad about themselves. Thus, the symptoms of dysphoria may give rise to various psychiatric illnesses.
Since dysphoria is not a diagnosis in itself, it can’t be divided into formal types. But the general apathy seen in this problem can be unofficially categorized as the following:
1. Gender dysphoria / sexual dysphoria
Gender dysphoria is a diagnosable mental health problem in DSM- 5.
It happens when a person displays general unhappiness and discontent about their gender identity differing from their biological sex assigned at birth.
This dysphoria is usually found in transgender who report that they are unable to accept the incongruence between their gender identity (as set by society) and their biological sex at birth (as determined by external genitalia).
Sometimes, people with gender dysphoria are also known as transgender and gender nonconforming due to their diverse sexual orientation.
People suffering from gender dysphoria experience extreme distress. They are unhappy, gloomy, anxious, and live a life of dissatisfaction.
The person may reveal a strong desire to become the opposite gender with which they feel they can identify in a better way.
It can lead to a desire to change one’s primary and secondary sexual characteristics.
It is important to note that all gender-diverse people do not experience the same level of dysphoria. The general unhappiness may not affect all in a similar way.
2. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
PMDD is the short form for the premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It is a severe form of psychological distress where the patient suffers from many physical and psychological symptoms.
The onset of the symptoms occurs during the start of menstruation.
The person may show signs of sadness and grief, agitation and anger. Other signs may include mood swings, poor self-image, hopelessness, etc.
Girls suffering from this type of dysphoria may seem to avoid social activities.
They may feel awkward in public places, though this feeling is totally irrational. This mental health condition may lead to poor social relationships as well.
3. Tardive dysphoria
This type of dysphoria happens in chronic depression where the person becomes resistant to treatment.
It means that even if the treatment is given, the person does not show any signs of improvement.
Psychiatric drugs fail to make the condition of the person better. This condition may also be caused due to prolonged use of antidepressant drugs.
4. Rejection sensitive dysphoria
In this type of dysphoria, the person may experience overwhelming negative emotions. Signs of sadness, anger, irritation, and poor self-esteem are common.
The symptoms occur because the person suffers from a perceived sense of social rejection. They may hold an idea that they are inadequate and falls short of society’s expectations.
Thus, feelings of imperfection and fear of rejection lead to apathy and a sad mood. Sometimes, the distress may not allow them to feel happiness at all.
5. Postcoital dysphoria
People suffering from these dysphoric symptoms experience sadness and anger after sexual intercourse. The physical displeasure leads to frustration and sadness.
Those who suffer from these mood swings are found to be committed in relationships, yet they show a general apathy towards sex.
The causes of this dysphoria are still unknown.
6. Social Dysphoria
Social dysphoria occurs due to a perceived inadequacy feeling. It shows up in the form of general sadness and dissatisfaction about being a part of a larger society.
The person experiences discomfort regarding how he/she is perceived by others in society.
Actually, the feeling of social dysphoria appears with regard to gender dysphoria. The person may be ignored, called inappropriate names, and in improper ways.
This is done because the behavior and gestures of the individual don’t match with the specific gender roles of society.
When the physical features of a person are not aligned with the gender roles they are expected to follow, the person suffers from some deepest fears.
The anxiety and worry can be really bad and the individual feels inadequate and imperfect from within. Thus, they prefer to stay isolated and aloof from social gatherings.
They fear social rejection and labeling which in turn can break their self-esteem forever.
Gender Dysphoria – Meaning
Gender dysphoria is an unhappy state of mind and psychological distress that is found in people whose gender identity is not matching with their assigned biological sex.
Gender diverse people suffer from an identity crisis that leads to feelings of apathy and hopelessness. These individuals may not feel at ease with their bodies.
Sometimes, they may feel trapped in another body that does not support their designated social roles.
Gender dysphoria was previously known as gender identity disorder because the patient felt that they are not the ones who they actually should be.
There is a mismatch between their gender roles and the sex they were assigned at birth.
People who experience gender dysphoria feel neglected and unworthy. They are insecure, laden with deepest fears and anxieties. All the time they are under social pressure to prove their self-worth.
They identify with a gender that they are not born with. Thus, this incongruence leads to non-conformity with the social roles they were expected to perform.
The psychology behind gender dysphoria
The symptoms of gender dysphoria lead to conflict between the physical characteristics of a person and the gender role they are performing in real-life.
In simple terms, a man doesn’t feel like a man and a woman also does not accept themselves as a woman.
In other words, these individuals feel differently about themselves. They are not happy with their assigned sex at birth and try to defy it altogether.
These individuals have a persistent identification with the opposite sex and feel like a victim being in their present biological state.
They prefer to follow mannerisms and behavior that are aligned with their preferred gender and deny their biological sex completely.
Feelings of discomfort begin to operate when the person is unable to identify with the social roles of their assigned sex they are expected to play in life.
They face many challenges such as poor self-image, negligence, and social stigma.
The sufferer may try to hide their emotional discomfort and unhappiness by making changes in the way they look or behave in social settings.
Some of them may resort to changes in gender expressions. Changes in clothing, hairstyle, are also very common with people suffering from gender dysphoria.
There are others who may think of undergoing hormone treatments, replacement therapy, or gender affirmation surgery. The motive is to live freely as the gender they identify with.
Children who suffer from this disorder may demand gender inappropriate toys. They may want to be dressed like the opposite sex member.
They may typically try to look and behave like the opposite gender.
Layman’s understanding of gender identity and gender dysphoria
Let us understand what gender identity is.
We are all born with assigned biological sex at birth. Society wants us to play certain social roles that are aligned with this assigned sex.
Thus, gender identity gives us a clear idea of who we are, how we see ourselves in the social structure, and whether others also see us in similar ways.
Most of us identify as either ‘female’ or ‘male.’
Yet, there are some individuals who think and feel strongly that their biological sex and physical characteristics are not aligned with their perceived sense of gender.
For example, a person with a male body and its physical features might deny and ignore being a male or possessing masculine features.
Similarly, a female with breasts and a uterus may feel like a man from within. They will not identify with the female body at all.
In social psychology, these gender-diverse people are known by different names. Such as gender non-conforming individuals, transsexuals, etc. They suffer from distress and emotional problems.
Signs and symptoms of gender dysphoria
Many adults suffering from gender dysphoria hate to be identified with the physical characteristics they were assigned at birth.
Females hate their breasts and may try to hide the subtle female qualities by dressing like a man.
On the flip side, men may identify with the female body and choose to do a hairstyle like a girl or carry out mannerisms like a woman.
The symptoms of gender dysphoria may start to show up even in childhood. You may find the child behaving differently than other boys and girls of the same age group.
The signs and symptoms of gender dysphoria appear differently for children, adolescents, and adults.
It also varies from one person to another. However, the symptoms cause significant impairment in daily life and social functioning.
Symptoms in adolescents and adults
The symptoms may range from mild dislike to complete non-acceptance of one’s assigned gender role according to the biological sex characteristics of that person.
Some of the notable symptoms of this disorder are as follows:
- A strong need to no longer continue with the primary sex features of their gender assigned at birth.
- Discomfort with the assigned gender with which the person is unable to identify.
- The person desires to be treated as an opposite gender in social setups.
- Inability to identify with the sexual characteristics they are born with.
- They insist that their preferred gender is not matching with their biological sex.
- Preference for the roles of opposite-sex members.
- Likes the dressing style and mannerisms of the opposite sex.
- A strong rejection for things such as toys, clothing, social roles that are typically related to their birth-assigned sexual features.
- Adults and adolescents who suffer from gender dysphoria may relate well to their same-sex friends and family members. This is because they identify with their preferred identity and not the one being assigned at birth.
- Feelings of discomfort with one’s physical body especially during puberty.
- Inability to accept physical changes occurring during teen years.
- Constant fear of social rejection and isolation.
- Feelings of unhappiness, gloom, and pessimism.
- Being ridiculed by peers and even parents.
Other psychological symptoms of gender dysphoria
- The person feels unwanted and suffers from deep-seated emotional trauma.
- Loneliness and depression.
- A constant feeling that they are born with the wrong gender.
- Feelings of disgust and self-loathing with their sexual organs.
- Total non-acceptance of the assigned social roles given to them by others.
- School and college aversion.
- Distress in the workplace. May become exposed to humiliation from co-workers.
- Low self-esteem.
- Inferiority complex.
- Inability to make deeper human connections with others.
- Feels different from others and faces constant gender questioning in social situations.
- Victims of social discrimination. May not be given social and civil rights.
Gender Dysphoria signs in children
Children with gender dysphoria desire to be treated as the preferred gender and not the one been assigned at birth. They want to think, feel, and act with the gender they feel comfortable with.
Society sets certain gender-specific behaviors. The child is expected to behave in inappropriate gender roles. Whenever they fail to do so, they may become victims of abuse and insults.
From the early days of one’s life, the child is taught and mentally conditioned to think and act in certain specific ways only. Simple examples could be
- Girls are supposed to play with dolls and kitchen sets while boys should play basketball and football.
- Boys are weak if they cry.
- Girls are considered arrogant if they fight and squabble with others.
- Boys should wear blue and girls should check out pink only.
These gender-specific things are taught to the child. A gender-diverse child may not identify with these societal conventions. They may feel awkward for being different.
Thus, children with gender dysphoria may suffer from mood swings, anxiety, poor self-esteem, low levels of confidence, poor social relationships as seen in schools, and social events.
Moreover, many gender-diverse kids feel internal disconnection of their gender role and the sex they were assigned at birth. This mismatch makes them choose a dress that belongs to the opposite sex.
Some of them play with toys of the opposite sex and may show displeasure about their own physical characteristics and genitals.
School-going children find it hard to communicate their needs to others. They desire to be called by some other name, an appropriate one that makes them feel aligned with their preferred gender.
Typical signs of dysphoria in gender diverse kids
All gender-diverse kids do not suffer from dysphoria but the majority of them do. Let us study some of the chief signs of gender dysphoria in kids.
- Persistent demand to be called and treated as members of their preferred gender as against their biological gender-assigned traits
- Frequent crying and tantrums if asked to follow the rules and behavior patterns of the assigned gender
- They argue that they belong to the opposite sex and not the one they live by
- Feelings of hatred and disgust about their physical body
- They hate being called by some name that they cannot identify with
- Body harm
- Aggressive behavior
- Rejection of typical gender-specific actions and behavior
- Anxiety and worry
- Depressive symptoms
- Feels sad and inhibited
- Social isolation
- Poor academic performance
- They also desire to get rid of their birth-assigned genitals and social roles associated with them
- Rejects the bodily changes that occur during puberty such as the onset of menstruation in girls, cracking of voice in boys
- Avoids going to school
- Prefers to stay alone because they don’t want to be questioned by others.
Diagnosis of gender dysphoria
The clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria is done on the basis of diagnostic criteria given in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
The disorder is diagnosed only if the person is suffering from stress and anxiety related to their condition. It should be persistent and continue for at least 6 months.
The impairment in behavior is causing problems in daily life. At the same time, it is impairing social relationships and adjustment with others in the community.
The term gender dysphoria appears as a diagnosis for the first time in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
It refers to those persons with a marked incongruence between their experienced or expressed gender and the one they were assigned at birth.
It was known as gender identity disorder in the previous editions of DSM.
The term gender identity refers to the sense one has of being male or female, which corresponds most often to the person’s anatomical sex.
Persons with gender dysphoria express their discontent with their assigned sex as a desire to have the body of the other sex or to be regarded socially as a member of the other sex.
The criteria for diagnosis of gender dysphoria
- Mismatch between a person’s psychological expression of gender and the gender assigned at birth based on external genitalia.
- The person wants to get rid of their primary and secondary sexual characteristics such as females by birth may dislike having breasts and males may want to get rid of the penis and facial hair.
- A desire to possess the primary and secondary sexual features of the opposite sex.
- The need to become the person who resides in them, different from their sex-assigned personality at birth.
- Wants to be treated by others as members of the opposite sex.
- The person strongly believes that their feelings, preferences, and thought processes match the other gender and not the assigned gender is given at birth.
- The person’s behavior should continue for at least 6 months before the clinical diagnosis is done.
- The condition leads to problems in daily life.
- Distress is seen in social and occupational life.
Gender Dysphoria causes
After knowing the signs and symptoms of gender dysphoria, it’s time to learn about the typical causes that may lead to this problem.
The exact reasons for developing the symptom of this disorder are not known. But psychologists have given credit to genetic, biological, and social factors in their causation.
1. Role of biology in its making
It has been found that hormonal imbalance during the pre-natal development of the fetus may lead to gender dysphoria.
Science has proved that the resting state of the tissue is initially female.
As the fetus continues to grow and develop, male sex is produced only if androgen (set off by the Y chromosome from the father) which leads to the growth of the testis and penis is introduced.
Without testes and androgen, female external genitalia develop. Thus, masculinity depends on the proper balance of androgens and femininity depends on estrogen hormones.
If there is an imbalance in sex hormones before birth, the person may feel and act differently, leading to signs of gender dysphoria.
Sexual behavior is ruled by sex steroids. Sex steroids influence the expression of sexual behavior in mature men or women.
Testosterone can increase libido and aggressiveness in women, and estrogen can decrease libido and aggressiveness in men.
But masculinity, femininity, and gender identity may result in more from postnatal life events than from prenatal hormonal organization alone.
Thus, further and deeper research needs to be carried out before arriving at a definite conclusion.
2. Genetic causes
The role of family inheritance in gender dysphoria is still under a lot of research. Twin studies have shown a higher prevalence rate of 39.1% in monozygotic twins in developing gender identity issues.
Sigmund Freud stated that gender identity problems occur due to the conflicts experienced by children in the early years of life.
He pointed out that these conflicts are fueled by both real family events and children’s fantasies.
Whatever interferes with a child’s loving the opposite-sex parent and identifying with the same-sex parent interferes with normal gender identity development.
Later on, psychoanalysts have found that the quality of the mother-child relationship in the first years of life is vital in establishing proper gender identity.
During this period, mothers normally help their children develop an awareness of, and pride in, their gender:
Children are valued as little boys and girls. Psychoanalysts argue that devaluing, hostile mothering can result in gender identity problems.
Some children are given the message that they would be valued if they adopted the gender identity of the opposite sex. Rejected or abused children may act on such a belief.
Gender identity problems can also be triggered by a mother’s death, extended absence, or depression, to which a young boy may react by totally identifying with her—that is, by becoming a mother to replace her.
The father’s role is also important in the early years. For a girl, the father is normally the prototype of future love. For a boy, the father is a model for male identification.
Learning theory postulates that children may be rewarded or punished by parents and teachers on the basis of gendered behavior, thus influencing the way children express their gender identities.
Children also learn how to label people according to gender and eventually learn that gender is dictated by surface appearances such as clothing or hairstyle.
When children grow up into their teen years, gender dysphoria may become more noticeable. It is because the person fails to identify the society-induced gender role given to them.
From deep within, they feel that they are not the ones as seen by others.
This mismatch leads to feelings of social isolation and depression. The gender-diverse teenager feels neglected, not loved, and cared for by others.
Sometimes, suicidal ideation can become a major problem. The person shows complete non-acceptance of who they seem to be from outside.
They feel a desire to become the person they strongly want to become.
Gender Dysphoria test
People who suffer from gender dysphoria suffer from feelings of helplessness and despair. Their feelings of gender mismatch are real.
They need to come out of the immense grief that they may be suffering from.
A gender dysphoria test will help the person find out the symptoms of the disease and learn what they can do to help themselves.
If you are suffering from similar symptoms of dysphoria, you may take this test just to understand whether you are suffering from incongruence with your biological sex.
You can take the test here.
Gender Dysphoria treatment
People suffering from gender dysphoria may opt for sex transitioning procedures that are actually undertaken by a trained doctor.
The other line of treatment allied with this is hormone replacement therapy.
To reduce the symptoms of general dysphoria, depression, and anxiety attacks, the person should take the help of psychotherapy and behavior re-training.
Individual counseling works well with patients with gender dysphoria. They are taught coping skills to manage symptoms in a better way.
Apart from this, family counseling can be done because the love and care of the family members may help the patient towards a good recovery.
The treatment techniques for gender dysphoria are patient-centric. The plan of treatment is tailor-made to meet individual needs. The motive is to give relief to the patient from their overwhelming negative emotions.
Some of the best treatments for gender dysphoria are as follows:
The mental agony and dissatisfaction can be managed with cognitive behavior therapy. It is a talking therapy where the person is motivated to express their deepest fears and inhibitions openly.
The therapist helps the patient to resolve childhood trauma if any.
Moreover, the patient is motivated to stay calm and relax in social situations where they may need to prove their worth.
Psychotherapy aims to reduce anger and other symptoms of dysphoria like unhappiness, guilt, apathy, and hopeless feelings.
2. Puberty suppression
If a child is suffering from gender dysphoria, parents may opt for some puberty suppression techniques. These methods will delay the onset of puberty in their teenage children.
The physical symptoms of puberty may not happen or will get delayed. However such hormone treatments are not cost-effective at all.
Moreover, these hormone therapy treatments can bring a host of side effects. So, parents should take enough medical advice before exposing their gender-diverse children to such treatments.
3. Hormone replacement therapy for adults
Adults who chose to go for a sex replacement surgery may start treatment with hormone regulations.
The males can be given female hormonal drugs to grow breasts, facial changes, fat built-up around the waistline and thighs.
On the other hand, the females can be put under testosterone supplements to grow facial hair, voice changes, build up body muscles, etc.
Hormone replacement therapy prepares the body for the big sexual transition that the person wants to have in his/her life.
4. Gender transformation surgery
If you know someone suffering from gender dysphoria, you may have seen them telling you that they wish to undergo a gender transition with surgical procedures.
This treatment needs to be done by a trained professional. This procedure is complicated and thus the person may need to seek advice from a team of doctors before undergoing this process.
The transition process may be emotionally challenging for the person. Thus, the support of family members is of utmost importance.
There may be a lack of acceptance from peers and a broader social circle. The person will go through a lot of physical and emotional changes.
The best way is to seek support from close people who can comfort them mentally and help them overcome the changes that they might be having in due course of time because of the surgery.
5. Mindfulness and meditation
People with gender dysphoria reveal many odd symptoms such as excessive worries, and trauma. Most of the patients report that their past is full of trauma and suffering.
They never felt at peace with who they are. There was a strong desire to become the person they closely identify with. All these make them suffer from persistent anxiousness and unhappiness.
For them, practicing mindfulness meditation can do wonders. Calming exercises increase focus and awareness.
It helps to control constant negative thoughts that the person may have. Thus, gender dysphoria patients should practice meditation to keep their symptoms in check.
Complications of Gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria
The impact of gender dysphoria is not the same for all. Some people report extreme psychological distress marked by a sad mood, low self-esteem, insecurity, and fear.
Feelings of mental restlessness, frustration, self-loathing tendencies are apparent with gender dysphoria. There are feelings of negativity about the physical body.
Lack of acceptance is seen with regard to primary and secondary sexual characteristics.
Some of the negative impacts of gender dysphoria are as follows:
- Increased risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts
- Social discrimination and harassment
- May becoming a victim of hate crimes
- Children and teenagers may be teased and insulted in social situations
- Less health care access to these people due to social stigma
- Inability to adjust in school
- Anxiety and fear of getting revealed
- Feelings of humiliation and emotional pain if abused by others
- Difficulty in maintaining relationships
- Self-harming tendencies
- Eating disorders
- Mental uneasiness
- Fear of being abused and maltreated all the time
- Difficulty matching their gender identity with their preferred gender
When can gender dysphoria show up?
The symptoms of gender dysphoria may start to show up as early as 2 years. The child may behave differently. They can be easily noticed by parents or primary caregivers at home.
Their behavior may appear to be a mismatch with other children of the same age group.
Yet, there are many others who may show signs of gender dysphoria in adolescence or early adulthood when several physical changes take place.
How can parents support their gender-diverse children?
For most parents, it’s overwhelming as well as challenging to find their children going through issues of a gender crisis.
The parent may not accept the fact that their children are gender diverse.
If you are one of those parents, you may be passing through trying times. But there are ways that you can follow to make your child’s life a better one.
- Talk openly with your child or teenager boy or girl about their condition.
- Keep away your stigma or preconceived ideas about Trans people while you are communicating with your child.
- Offer empathy and not critical judgments.
- Never abuse or sound negative in front of your child. They may fall into guilt and shame about their condition. This can also lead to self-harm tendencies.
- Give them enough mental support and reassure them that whatever may happen, you will always stand tall with them.
- Help them overcome their inner complexes and conflicts by visiting a therapist to undergo individual counseling.
- Stay calm and listen to your child’s negative feelings about their physical body. Your child is already at crossroads. Thus, avoid being judgmental.
- Allow their emotions to flow freely. This helps in emotional healing and grief management.
- Be patient and support your child even if you are not at all comfortable with their perceived gender identities.
- Help them express their gender identity without fear.
Several study findings suggest that parents who reject the emotional turmoil and dysphoria reactions of their children are more likely to fall into severe depression and suicidal ideation. The prevalence rate speaks it all.
The Family Acceptance Project is a research work undertaken to understand the role of family dynamics in the onset and progress of gender dysphoria. The findings of the study are quite heartbreaking and alarming.
- 8 times higher rates for suicide
- 6 times more likely to suffer from major depression
- 3 times higher chances of drug abuse
- 3 times more likely to develop HIV or sexually transmitted diseases
Prevalence of gender dysphoria
- Gender dysphoria is not as uncommon as it seems to be. Alone in the United States, about 1 million transgender adults reside country. This finding was found by Meerwijk and Sevelius.
- In another study, Flores and colleagues have found that approximately 1.4 million adults, or 0.6% of the population in the United States are comprised of transgender individuals.
- According to the statistics given in DSM-5, the prevalence rate for gender dysphoria ranges from 0.005–0.014% for biological males and 0.002–0.003% for biological females in the overall global population.
- In countries like Poland and Japan, gender dysphoria is more common.
- The various studies were done in European nations in the year 2000 have found that about 1 in 12,000 natal male adults and 1 in 30,000 natal female adults undergo sex reassignment surgery.
- In the year 2018-19, 8000 people had sought support from gender dysphoria services in England.
- Teenagers who are referred to gender dysphoria clinics for counseling and support are 5.5 times higher risk for depression and suicidal ideation.
- 26.3% of gender-diverse people may take drugs or become drug-abused people once in their lifetime.
- Gender dysphoria leads to a risk of suicide. It can be as high as 32 – 50% annually. The risk factors are bullying, rejection from family and peer groups, lack of social recognition, severe depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, domestic violence, etc.
Living with gender dysphoria (self-coping skills)
If you are suffering from symptoms of gender dysphoria, remember you’re not the only one at crossroads.
There are many people who are walking on the same path as you. Maybe you just don’t know them.
Living with the symptoms of gender dysphoria is not easy as it may sound. The sufferer goes through hellish experiences and may not verbally let others know.
Thus, coping with emotional challenges is of utmost importance. There are certain things that you can do to help yourself.
- Join a social support group of like-minded people and learn their stories of struggles and success.
- Talk to trusted family members and friends about your condition. Choose people who won’t judge you, rather can fill you with more love and positivity.
- Do things that make you feel good about yourself. Emotional wellness should top the list.
- Practice meditation and deep introspection. When you reflect on your fears and insecurities, you emerge as a strong being that is powerful to fight odds in life.
- Don’t seek validation for who you are from others. People may not accept you as you’re. Thus, it is futile and may do more harm than any good.
- Practice self-compassion. You will be able to self-validate all your feelings easily.
- You may try doing small things that will help you affirm your gender identity. This will reduce the unhappiness and sad mood that you may be suffering from.
- The dysphoria symptoms can be reduced by practicing certain things that eliminate feelings of disgust for the physical body. You can try doing breast binding or genital tucking, just to hide your emotional discomfort.
The video link shared below will help you understand dysphoria in a better way. Do check out the link for further information.
Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’
To wrap things up, it is noteworthy that gender dysphoria occurs when one is not comfortable with their assigned biological sex at birth.
They feel that they are not the ones that they actually should be.
This gender identity crisis brings a host of psychological and social problems. The person may pass through extreme levels of mental stress and agony.
Sometimes, the society they live in may not accept them as they are. Thus, a continuous guilt feeling operates inside that is emotionally overwhelming and hard to get rid of.
Moreover, their relationships may go for a toss even with family members and friends who hold stigma related to the illness. In such a situation, the sufferer may feel alone and fall into loneliness.
But the good news is, time is fast-changing and all across the globe, gender-diverse people are getting acceptance gradually.
The path may be tough and the goals are far-fetched, yet hope should never be left alone.
There is always something good waiting for these diverse groups of people who are just like us – they are human beings who deserve to be treated with compassion and acceptance.
A Psychologist with a master's degree in Psychology, a former school psychologist, and a teacher by profession Chandrani loves to live life simply and happily. She is an avid reader and a keen observer. Writing has always been a passion for her, since her school days. It helps to de-stress and keeps her mentally agile. Pursuing a career in writing was a chance occurrence when she started to pen down her thoughts and experiences for a few childcare and parenting websites. Her lovable niche includes mental health, parenting, childcare, and self-improvement. She is here to share her thoughts and experiences and enrich the lives of few if not many.