Dissociative Identity Disorder Or Multiple Personality Disorder: All You Need To Know

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Well, there’s no doubt we all have watched the movie titled “Fight Club” … feeling nostalgic?? Indeed, it was a great movie, if you focus on the theme of the movie properly, you are likely to find that “multiple personality disorder” or “dissociative identity disorder” is the underlying theme of the movie. There are many famous movies about multiple personality disorders such as Psycho, Shutter Island, Black Swan, Mr.Brooks, and more.

In today’s blog, we are going to take a deep look at what is dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder to help you seek the right approach for diagnosis and treatment. So, let’s get started!

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a mental health disorder identified by the occurrence of two or more different personalities in an individual. Prior, dissociative identity disorder was called multiple personality disorder but now it is listed under the dissociative disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5).

Dissociative disorders in the DSM-5 are marked on an important feature “dissociation” which means disconnection with self, memory, perception, and identity.

DID is part of dissociative disorders. Other dissociative disorders include:

Depersonalized or derealization disorder: This disorder causes detachment from actions.
Dissociative amnesia: This disorder makes remembering important information about yourself problematic.

Fact-Check: DID is a rare mental health condition. Research shows that only 1% to 1.5% of the population has the disorder.

Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder

The most important feature of dissociative identity disorder is the presence of two or more different personalities or identities (which are also referred to as alters). One of the most common symptoms accompanied by the alteration of personalities is a loss of memory, this symptom is suspected to occur when a personality or alter is in the control of another personality.

According to psychologists, each alter reflects a different set of history, traits, and behavior to the world. The different alters have different preferences, genders, manners, names, and behaviors which can be different to the core personality. Other important symptoms of dissociative identity disorder are:

Blurred sense of identity
Constant feelings of disconnection or detachment
Delusions
Disorientation
Hallucinations
Feeling distorted
Flashbacks
Inability to recall memories related to past, childhood, or personal history
Lack of awareness
Losing chunks of time
Memory loss or amnesia
Problems in relationship or work-related stress
Sense of being separated from yourself
Severe stress
Suicidal ideation or self-harm
Other severe mental health issues such as depression and anxiety

Fact-Check: Research shows that people struggling with DID are more prone to hypnosis.

Below listed are some of the trauma-related symptoms of dissociative identity disorder:

Detachment
Difficulty maintaining relationships
Emotional numbness
Flashbacks
Nightmares

Causes of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Research shows that trauma is one of the major causes behind the development of dissociative identity disorder. I could find one study that revealed that people who experienced psychological trauma are so severe that later they adapted stout dissociation as a coping mechanism to manage the trauma.

In this relation, chronic dissociation can result in the formation of different alters or identities. Additionally, people with DID also report being the victims of sexual or physical abuse during childhood. This suggests that such individuals also reveal the parallel symptoms of borderline personality disorder which are impulsivity, self-harm, and instability.

Fact-Check: 90% of people who struggle with DID show a history of trauma or past abuse.

Complications Related to Dissociative Identity Disorder

Having dissociative identity disorder increases the risk of complications and the development of other mental health conditions which include:

Anxiety
Depression
Eating disorders
Extensive substance or alcohol use
Improper sexual functioning
Insomnia or sleepwalking
Physical symptoms such as seizures or light-headedness
Personality disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Self-injury or risk-taking behaviors
Sleep disorders
Suicidal ideation

Diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder

If you think you or your loved one might be struggling with multiple identity disorder or dissociative identity disorder, you must connect with a certified and experienced mental health professional to seek the right diagnosis and treatment approach.

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Below are the diagnostic criteria used for dissociative identity disorder as per DSM-5:

An individual must have two or more different personalities or identities.
An individual must be struggling with multiple personalities and an inability to match the behavioral pattern of the identities.
An individual must be experiencing amnesia.
An individual must be struggling with the inability to function properly in regular life.
The existing symptoms must not be part of any kind of religious or cultural practice.
The existing symptoms must not result from the extensive use of alcohol, substance, or medication.

Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Psychotherapy is known to be the front-line treatment option for dissociative identity disorder. In some cases, your mental health professional might also prescribe some medications to treat some specific symptoms.

1. Psychotherapy

The type of psychotherapy to be implemented is decided on the basis of the needs, traumatic memories, and the development of effective coping techniques in an individual. Psychotherapy helps in identifying past trauma abuse, managing behavioral changes, and merging identities into a single identity. Below are some of the common types of psychotherapy applied to treating dissociative personality disorder:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is generally prescribed for replacing negative thoughts with positive ones and to treat healthy and practical coping skills. CBT also helps in identifying negative behaviors, beliefs, self-perceptions, and more.
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT is a form of CBT that is more patient-centric as it helps in targeting challenging emotions and teaches healthy coping skills for reactions and feelings.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR therapy uses eye movements to process the fear and heal the trauma induced by it. It can be really helpful for people with PTSD.
Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy is performed by using hypnosis. It is also one of the common methods used to treat some mental health conditions. The process of hypnosis revolves around being guided to a relaxed state by a hypnotherapist and accessing your subconscious beliefs and thoughts. The therapist tries to give suggestions to the client so that they can gain encouragement to change their negative behavior and symptoms can be relieved from the body.

2. Medication

As per research, there are no specified medications for treating symptoms of dissociative identity disorder but psychotherapists are likely to prescribe medications for some specific symptoms such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or other specific medications for addressing symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Living With Dissociative Identity Disorder

If you or your loved one have recently been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, you can take the help of the below-mentioned self-help techniques along with therapy and medications to adopt healthy coping strategies and manage symptoms of multiple personalities:

Try mindfulness-based meditation techniques: Mindfulness-based meditation techniques are effective for managing depression and anxiety. Additionally, it can be really helpful for merging different personalities into a single personality.  
Practice relaxation techniques regularly: Practicing relaxation techniques regularly helps in managing stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Additionally, it also helps in staying calm, grounded, and positive.
Take the help of reminders to treat amnesia: If you’re struggling with amnesia, you can take the help of reminders to ease regular functioning.  
Spend time with people who support you: Having people who support you by your side is always a great idea. Communicate and seek their support so that you can embrace the healing journey altogether.  
Communicate your issues: Always communicate your needs, issues, or emotions with your loved ones so that they can understand you and help you accurately.  
Join a support group: You can also join a support group to feel supported, heard, and positive.

Supporting a Loved One with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Having a loved one struggling with dissociative identity disorder can be really overwhelming or confusing. Here’s how you can help or support your loved one struggling with dissociative identity disorder:

Learn about the disorder and its symptoms: You can begin the support process by learning more and more about the disorder and its symptoms. Additionally, track the symptoms of your loved one to provide the right support.
Offer extended support: During tough or challenging times, provide extended support to your loved one by attending therapy sessions with them or taking care of them throughout the day.
Stay calm and supportive during behavior changes: DID is accompanied by major behavioral changes, therefore, stay calm during extreme behavioral changes and support your loved one.
Prepare a crisis plan: Always prepare a crisis plan for emergencies, to learn how to prepare a crisis plan, refer to: How to create your mental health crisis plan?  

Take care of your mental health: The whole process can be overwhelming or frustrating, therefore, take care of yourself by meditating, focusing on your needs, or exercising.

When to Seek Help?

Living with dissociation or dissociative identity disorder can be really challenging, during the tough or challenging times, you can always connect with: SAMHSA’s National Helpline
In cases of self-harm or suicidal ideation, connect to: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Connect with your mental health provider ASAP, in cases of:

Self-harm
Suicidal ideation
Violent behavior

Final Words:

Dissociative identity disorder is a mental health condition that was previously known as multiple personality disorder. Someone with DID struggles with different multiple personalities. Common symptoms of DID are memory loss, depression, and delusions. One of the major causes behind the development of DID is known to be trauma or past abuse.

Psychotherapy is known to be the frontline treatment for managing the symptoms of DID. Having a loved one struggling with dissociative identity disorder can be really overwhelming or confusing. Therefore, always connect with an experienced and certified mental health professional to seek the right diagnosis and treatment for dissociative identity disorder.

I hope this blog helps you understand what is dissociative identity disorder (DID) or multiple personality disorder (MPD). 

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Thanks for reading!

The post Dissociative Identity Disorder Or Multiple Personality Disorder: All You Need To Know appeared first on Calm Sage – Your Guide to Mental and Emotional Well-being.

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