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Dissociative Identity Disorder: What You Need to Know

For many people, the term “multiple personality disorder” conjures up images of Hollywood movies and TV shows in which someone with the condition leads a secret life or commits crimes without being aware of it. But what is dissociative identity disorder (DID) really, and how does it differ from PTSD, anxiety, and stress? Let’s take a closer look.

 

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a mental health condition that is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personalities within one individual. These personalities are known as “alters” and may have their own unique names, characteristics, and mannerisms. People with DID will often feel as though they are watching themselves from outside their own body and may not be aware of the actions of their alters. In severe cases, people with DID may require hospitalization to protect themselves or others from harm. 

woman smiling and then frowning

How is DID diagnosed?

A diagnosis of DID is made by a mental health professional based on a clinical interview and assessment. There are no laboratory tests or brain scans that can be used to diagnose the condition. 

 

What causes DID?

The cause of DID is not fully understood, but it is thought to be the result of a combination of genetic factors, psychological factors, and trauma. People who have experienced neglect or abuse during childhood are at an increased risk for developing the condition. 

It’s important to remember that having multiple personalities is not the same thing as having multiple personality disorder. Many people have different sides to their personality that they show in different situations, but this does not mean that they have DID. The key feature of DID is that the different personalities are unable to recall information that has been learned by other personalities. This can lead to problems with school, work, and relationships. 

 

Can DID be treated?

Yes. treatments for DID typically involve psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and psychodynamic therapy. Medications may also be prescribed to treat associated conditions such as anxiety or depression. With treatment, most people with DID are able to live relatively normal lives. 

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have DID, it’s important to seek professional help. A mental health evaluation can rule out other potential causes of symptoms and help identify the best course of treatment. 

If you would like more information about this topic, please watch the video below.

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a mental health condition that is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personalities within one individual. These personalities are known as “alters” and may have their own unique names, characteristics, and mannerisms. People with DID will often feel as though they are watching themselves from outside their own body and may not be aware of the actions of their alters. Treatment for DID typically involves psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and psychodynamic therapy. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have DID, it’s important to seek professional help.

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