Dissociative Identity Disorder Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is most commonly referred to as “multiple personality disorder”, as that is what it was called before we knew much about it. It refers to an uncommon phenomenon which is a mental disability characterized by a person having multiple identities within one mind. But, what are Dissociative Identity Disorder causes, and how does one know when to get help?

Identifying What DID Actually Is

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a mental health condition that only affects about 1.5% of people in the entire world. The main characteristic of this condition is more than one identity within the same person. Each identity controls the body’s behavior during different times. And, has its own personality, behavioral patterns, thoughts, and feelings. Furthermore, people diagnosed with DID can experience specific symptoms relating to these identities like gaps in memory, hallucinations, and delusions.

Dissociative Identity Disorder Causes

Dissociation is the mind’s ability to disconnect from the world and is the mind’s way of protecting itself from trauma. So, dissociation is, in itself, not abnormal. However, those who have experienced severe trauma may continue to dissociate even after danger is no longer present. This is when a diagnosis for DID occurs. Therefore, Dissociative Identity Disorder causes may include traumatic experiences like:

  • surviving natural disasters
  • witnessing or being the victim of a violent crime
  • being involved in war or combat
  • being the victim of sexual, emotional, and/or physical abuse
  • vehicular accidents
  • being the victim of kidnapping, torture, or childhood neglect

Overall, dissociation is a way of escaping traumatic events so that the mind doesn’t have to deal with them. But, for those who deal with repeated traumatic experiences, dissociation may become a recurrent issue, leading to the development of a Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder

People diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder may share similarities with experienced symptoms. So, identifying these symptoms can give individuals a better idea if they’re living with one of these conditions. Some of the symptoms of DID can include:

  • forgetfulness and loss of memory
  • having imaginary friends during childhood
  • suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • other mental health issues like depression or anxiety
  • altered abilities between identities
  • ineffective mood disorder treatments
  • substance use and abuse
  • having difficulty remembering personal information
  • mood swings seemingly out of nowhere

Treatments for Dissociative Identity Disorders

While DID is uncommon, there is hope for people living with this disorder. Living with the symptoms of DID can be frustrating and confusing. But, treatment can help reduce symptoms and allow individuals living with this condition to live out lives of wellbeing.

Psychiatric medications are sometimes prescribed to individuals diagnosed with DID to help treat concurring conditions like anxiety or depression. However, unfortunately, there is no current medication that’s successful in treating the symptoms of DID. But, psychotherapeutic methods are helpful for these individuals in order to manage behaviors and unwanted emotions. Some of the things to expect with psychiatric treatment and therapy for DID can include:

  • educating the individual on how to control dissociative episodes
  • integration of multiple identities into one self-identity
  • identifying and addressing past trauma that may have resulted in the development of DID