Dysphoria and, more specifically, gender dysphoria is a psychological state that can have a devastating effect on one’s life. Unfortunately, since the awareness around dysphoria is still low, it’s widely mistaken for other mental issues that accompany it or not recognized at all.
Disclaimer: This text provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. It’s not intended and should not be construed as medical advice nor a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. If you or any other person has a health concern, you should consult with your health care provider.
What Is Dysphoria?
Dysphoria is a psychological state in which an individual feels constant frustration, unhappiness, or overall dissatisfaction. It’s most often a mood that comes and goes, but if it’s long-term, it can actually be associated with more severe conditions such as depression and cyclothymia.
It’s imperative to note that dysphoria is not considered a mental health condition but rather a state which can potentially lead to developing a condition if it becomes severe. There are several different kinds of dysphoria:
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
- Rejection sensitive dysphoria.
- Post-coital dysphoria.
- Tardive dysphoria.
- Gender dysphoria.
Many people experience dysphoria at some point, but it typically passes on its own or by simple changes in lifestyle (diet, hobbies, routines). However, if at any point you feel that the unhappiness or dissatisfaction are becoming too much, it’s advised to call your therapist.
Long-term dysphoria is usually just a cover for mental health issues that require serious treatment. From depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, various conditions trigger drastic mood changes interpreted as dysphoria.
Do I Have Gender Dysphoria? — Understanding The Basics
Gender dysphoria is a state that causes a person to feel discomfort or associate negative feelings with their assigned gender identity. It can happen at any point in life, and it’s frequently encountered in trans and gender-diverse people.
Furthermore, it’s essential to remember that there’s no pattern you can apply here. For example, some people feel the effects of gender dysphoria from early childhood to adult life; some become aware of it in adulthood, whereas it comes and goes for some people.
Regarding gender dysphoria, the definition states that it’s a condition that arises when an individual doesn’t feel connected with the assigned gender, i.e., the sex they were born in. Some experts also use the term ‘gender identity disorder’.
What causes gender dysphoria?
Despite growing interest in this field, it’s still unclear what causes/triggers gender dysphoria. Developing gender awareness in humans is still too complex for science to find all the answers.
A common myth is that gender dysphoria is connected to one’s sexual orientation. However, a person experiencing gender dysphoria can identify as straight, gay, bisexual, or have any other sexual preference, as gender and sex are two different things.
What are the symptoms of gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoric mood and the overall experience may vary from not feeling at ease with your gender identity or wanting to be treated as another gender to developing strong desires to get rid of secondary sex characteristics.
When it develops in children, gender dysphoria typically displays as a preference for toys or clothes traditionally aimed at the opposite gender, assuming the desired identity during role-playing games, or even a dislike for their genitals. But, of course, natural curiosity in children is completely normal, and one shouldn’t make rushed assumptions regarding this.
Gender dysphoria in teenagers is easier to identify as teenagers already have a certain level of self-awareness. Dysphoria manifests as a desire to get rid of biological genitals and identification with a different gender in teenagers and adults.
It should be noted that gender dysphoria and depression often go hand in hand, especially if left untreated. Therefore, people experiencing gender dysphoria need professional support, as well as support from their social surroundings.
Rejection from family and stigmatization in the community are the greatest cause of mental issues in transgender people. Thus, a supportive environment and individual and family therapy are very important in developing a healthy self-image in individuals with dysphoria.
Support and acceptance are what make all the difference between gender dysphoria and gender euphoria. Gender euphoria is a term to describe a feeling of comfort with one’s self-identity, accepting yourself, and an overall feeling of ease.
Diagnosing gender dysphoria
Diagnosing gender dysphoria isn’t always easy since the symptoms vary or are accompanied by other mental issues. Sometimes, it demands a comprehensive approach by a number of different specialists to get to a proper diagnosis.
One of the widely used systems for the diagnosis of gender dysphoria was published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It provided a set of characteristical gender dysphoria symptoms for different age groups, providing a framework for a faster diagnosis.
Despite what the title suggests, gender dysphoria isn’t described as a disorder. Instead, it’s defined as a ‘clinically significant distress’ that is related to an individual’s desire/need to identify as the other gender.
The dsm 5 gender dysphoria criteria state that, in order to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the patient has to be experiencing symptoms for at least six months. It should, however, be noted that not all transgender people experience gender dysphoria.
The most prominent described symptoms include a desire to be of another gender, to be treated as the other gender, self-identifying with what is traditionally considered to be characteristic of another gender, or a need to have sex characteristics of the other gender.
Can you diagnose yourself with dysphoria?
Although you can read and educate yourself on these matters, you can’t diagnose yourself. Therefore, seeking professional help once you start suspecting is the crucial first step in getting appropriately diagnosed, finding the proper treatment, and solving the problem.
Those who experience gender dysphoria need a wide array of supportive circles to overcome it with success. From social and psychological support to medical and legal support and help, finding yourself requires a lot of steps and readiness for an open-minded exploration.
We hope today’s topic sheds a bit of light on experiencing gender dysphoria and what it actually is. If you suspect something or feel uneasy about who you are and who you want to be, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Finding yourself is a journey that never ends, and overcoming hardships is an integral part of it.
What does it mean to feel dysphoric?
Feeling dysphoric means feeling uneasy, anxious, distressed, or just generally unwell. These feelings can have different triggers, i.e. causes of dysphoric moods.
Can cis people have dysphoria?
Cis people can experience some kinds of dysphoria, but it’s rarely ever gender dysphoria. Dysphoria affects cis people the same as anyone else, which we have talked about in greater detail in this article.
Where does the term cis come from?
Like many other terms, the term cis comes from Latin. It has been used as a prefix that means ‘’on the same side’’ across different disciplines in science. It was integrated into gender studies to replace words such as ‘normal’ to avoid unintended implications that other identities are ‘abnormal.’