Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment is critical due to the chronic nature of the condition. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a diagnosis where a person has two or more distinct personality states. Those with DID are often struggling with deep trauma or abuse.
A problem with Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment is that the condition remains unfamiliar to many people. However, most of us have heard of multiple personality disorder. Dissociative Identity Disorder is the correct medical terminology for multiple personality disorder.
Dissociative Identity Disorder in Media
Many television and movies portray multiple personality disorder in ways that do not represent it accurately. Seeking ratings, they intensify or exaggerate a difficult mental health condition. Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment is vital to those struggling.
Dissociative Identity Disorder was known as multiple personality disorder or split personality treatment until 1994. At that time, the name was officially changed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. A reason for this change was to reduce the hysteria around the condition and focus on effective treatment.
Moreover, the change was made because “multiple personality disorder” is a misleading term, according to experts. Rather than having separate personalities, people with DID feel as if they have more than one entity, or “personality state,” within them. Ultimately, Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment is about resolving the trauma. This is to understand and rectify what led to the additional personality states as a means of survival.
Multiple Personalities vs. Fragmented Identity
Although media about Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment often show people with several distinct personalities, this is not accurate. Rather, people with Dissociative Identity Disorder have a different way of processing. They relate, perceive, think, and even remember differently. The varied personality states are a coping mechanism. Hence, this is engendered by a mind scarred by trauma.
Dissociative Identity Personalities
DID personality states may appear on the surface to be different personalities. However, they are different manifestations of the same person. For example, even though the different identities can have different names, mannerisms, voices, and preferences, they are not different persons in actuality. Therapists and survivors of DID sometimes call these different identities “alternate personalities,” “alters,” “ego states,” or “states of consciousness.”
Dissociative Identity Disorder & Stress
Stress is usually the trigger for a person with DID to transition into another personality state. Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment is designed to reduce such stress and foster a safe place where healing be fostered.
Living with someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder can be challenging. Furthermore, people with DID often suffer from the long-term effects of trauma, which is a root cause of dissociative disorders. This is why Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment is so crucial to access.
In addition, many with Dissociative Identity Disorder may also have co-occurring disorders. For example, their alternate personality states could have an eating disorder, a substance use disorder, or anxiety. Furthermore, their daily functioning and ability to maintain relationships is often compromised by DID symptoms.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment Info
The latest research about Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment reveals the following:
- Almost 50 percent of American adults experience at least one dissociative episode in their lives. However, the majority of them do not meet the full criteria for treatment
- In terms of gender, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed
- More than 70 percent of people with DID have attempted suicide.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment & Symptoms
DID symptoms include the following:
- Visual or auditory hallucinations
- Sudden impulses or strong emotions
- Emotional numbness or sense of detachment
- Headaches and unexplained pain
- Having no sense of self-identity
- Feeling as if one is possessed—taken over by a spirit or other supernatural being
- A sensation of being in someone else’s body, or of being outside one’s body
- Frequent memory gaps, in regard to both the recent and distant past
- Impaired functioning at work, at school, and in relationships as a result of these symptoms
- Fugue states, after which they cannot recall what happened. A person with DID may suddenly find themselves “waking up” somewhere without a memory of how they got there.
Types of Dissociative Disorders
There are three main types of dissociative disorders that require Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment. Besides Dissociative Identity Disorder, these include dissociative amnesia and depersonalization-derealization disorder.
The primary symptom of dissociative amnesia is the inability to remember information about yourself or your life. For example, a person with dissociative amnesia may be unable to recall what happened to them during an episode of combat or abuse. An amnesiac episode like this can last for a matter of minutes, for hours or days, or even for years. Such an episode is a warning sign that Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment is needed
Additionally, depersonalization disorder involves a feeling of being detached from one’s actions, thoughts, feelings, and sensations. People who suffer from depersonalization disorder compare the experience to watching a movie. Specifically, they feel as if everything around them is unreal.
Depersonalization disorder typically manifests in adolescence. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the average age of onset is 16, Moreover, 80 percent of people with this disorder begin experiencing symptoms by age 20. An ongoing case of depersonalization disorder means that Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment is required.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Causes
Experts agree that Dissociative Identity Disorder often stems from extreme trauma in childhood. Typically, this trauma is the result of ongoing physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse. Such trauma almost always means that Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment is needed.
As a coping mechanism to deal with such trauma, the child walls off, or dissociates from, the traumatic experience or the memory of the experience. In order to protect themselves from the pain and fear, they distance themselves from what is happening.
It’s almost as if they were stepping outside their own bodies. As a result, they enter a dissociative state. Subsequently, this dissociative state can progress into a dissociative disorder. Once the progression has happened, Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment is the best solution to stop such a serious mental health condition from getting worse.
About 90 percent of DID cases studied in the United States, Canada, and Europe involve a history of abuse. Moreover, accidents, natural disasters, and military combat can also create trauma severe enough to be a risk factor for dissociative symptoms and DID.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment Diagnosis
Dissociative Identity Disorder diagnoses have become more common in recent years. Therefore, this diagnosis has also become more controversial. Some experts believe that the symptoms of split personality arise in response to therapists’ suggestions. However, brain imaging studies have produced neurological proof of fragmented identities in patients with DID. Such brain imaging studies are powerful arguments for treatment.
Mental health professionals often find it difficult to pinpoint and diagnose. This is in part because people with DID often display symptoms of other disorders. Therefore, people with dissociative disorders sometimes seek treatment for many years without finding relief. Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment is not accessed because DID is mistaken for something else, usually a co-occurring disorder manifested by an alternate personality.
Additionally, people with DID can sometimes function well in daily life. They are able to hold jobs and interact normally with others. Only the people they are closest to know that anything is wrong. Hence, it may go undiagnosed for a long time. As a result, such a high level of functioning prevents the person from accessing Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment.
However, in the past several decades, research on dissociative disorders has increased. As a result, scientists have developed improved screening and diagnostic tools, such as the Dissociative Experience Scale and the Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociative Disorders.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is typically accompanied by symptoms of other mental health conditions. These conditions may occur as a result of the trauma that is at the root. Consequently, people with DID may also have:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Substance abuse
- Depression, including feelings of low self-esteem and self-hatred
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Impulse control disorder
- Anxiety, including generalized anxiety and panic attacks
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sleep disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Eating disorders.
Treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment focuses on reuniting the fragmented personalities within the psyche. Rather than eliminating the personality states, the goal of therapy for DID is to help the person integrate the alters into the overall personality structure. Typically, this requires long-term psychotherapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and creative therapy modalities are proven to be useful for those with DID. Since people with DID often have extreme trust and rejection issues, Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment is more effective with an ongoing relationship with a therapist.
There are no medications that specifically treat dissociative disorders. However, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are sometimes used in Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment to help control the mental health symptoms.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is a severe mental health condition. Therefore, Dissociative Identity Disorder treatment may be difficult. Fortunately, research shows that people with DID can go on to live fulfilling lives when they get the help they need.
American Psychiatric Association
National Institute of Mental Health
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2014 May;48(5):402-17.
Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2009 Mar; 6(3): 24–29.
Images courtesy of Unsplash