6 Signs of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Hi Psych2Goers, this is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. If you are struggling, please reach out to a qualified mental health professional or healthcare provider. 

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a condition that is surrounded by a lot of stigma. TV and movies tend to dramatize the disorder into something that isn’t a realistic depiction of the condition. To better understand what this rare condition is, here are six signs of DID.

What is DID?

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a type of dissociative disorder, a category of conditions characterized by a disconnect in one’s thoughts, actions, and memory (Mayo Clinic 2017). DID in particular, is a condition where a person will detach from themself and take on a new personality. Commonly, this is a coping mechanism as a result of severe stress and is usually developed in response to highly traumatic events (Psychology Today 2021). With that out of the way, let’s look at six signs.

1. More Than One Distinct Personality At a Time

The biggest characteristic in DID is having more than one personality at the same time. While some people may claim to have different personalities in social settings, this is not the same as with people with DID. People with the condition often have two or more distinct personalities, each with different thinking patterns and ways of interpreting the world around them (Crichton-Stuart 2018). These personalities showcase themselves involuntarily and can come about as a trauma response (Salters-Pedneault 2020). In some cases, these personalities can vary in other ways like age or gender. 

2. Gaps in Memory

People with DID tend to have memory loss in situations that cannot be explained by other means (WebMD 2008). They may forget certain people, their own history, and places they’ve been to (Psychology Today 2021). They may also lose track of time and be unaware of what’s happening in the world around them. 

3. Disorientation

Having DID can bring about a lot of unusual sensations. People with the condition may report that they experience odd transformational changes in their body for a period of time that then return to normal (Psychology Today 2021). For example, they may grow or shrink. Similarly, they may notice drastic changes in their thinking and behavior for a span of time. Depersonalization, feeling outside of your body, and derealization, feeling detached from reality, are also common (Psychology Today 2021).  

4. Stress in Important Areas of Your Life

Having a condition like DID can have a major impact on your quality of life as well as your ability to function. Relationships, work, school, and other areas of life can be strained due to the severe symptoms of this condition (Mayo Clinic 2017). It is important, however, to know that this condition does have treatment options available; combinations of psychotherapy and medication can help manage the disorder (Salters-Pedneault 2020). 

5. Other Mental Health Conditions are Present

DID is commonly associated with other mental health conditions. People may experience anxiety and depression along with sleep disorders, panic disorders, personality disorders or even psychotic disorders along with their DID (Crichton-Stuart 2021). As people with DID are often survivors of trauma, it is common to have other disorders associated with traumatic events (Salters-Pedneault 2020).

6. There are No Other Attributed Causes

DID is a rare condition and in order to be diagnosed with it, other conditions need to be ruled out. Drugs and other substances can create similar effects to DID when someone is under the influence of them. Events related to culture or religion can as well, and thus should be ruled out. Generally, a doctor will perform a physical exam to rule out symptoms caused by something else (WebMD 2008).  

DID is a lot different from how it is portrayed in media. The condition is heavily misunderstood, so we hope we were able to shed some light on the topic. Remember to reach out for help from a qualified mental health professional if you are struggling. Getting in touch with the right person can be a great first step into improving your quality of life. What are your thoughts on DID? What do you know about this condition? Let us know in the comments! Take care!

References:

  • Cleveland Clinic. (2021, May 25). Dissociative Identity Disorder: What Is It, Symptoms & Treatment. my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9792-dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder#symptoms-and-causes
  • Crichton-Stuart, C. (2018, April 11). What is dissociative identity disorder? Medical News Today. www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321462
  • Deconstructing Stigma. (2019, January 24). Dissociative Identity Disorder. deconstructingstigma.org/glossary/dissociative-identity-disorder
  • Mayo Clinic. (2017, November 17). Dissociative disorders – Symptoms and causes. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355215
  • Psychology Today. (2021, August 24). Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder
  • Salters-Pedneault, K. (2020, August 10). Why Dissociative Identity Disorder Is a Controversial Condition. Verywell Mind. www.verywellmind.com/dissociative-identity-disorder-425423
  • WebMD. (2008, April 17). Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder

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