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Help With Dissociative Disorders

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Dissociative disorders involve problems with memory, identity, emotion, perception, behavior and sense of self. Dissociative symptoms can potentially disrupt every area of mental functioning.

Examples of dissociative symptoms include the experience of detachment or feeling as if one is outside one’s body, and loss of memory or amnesia. Dissociative disorders are frequently associated with previous experience of trauma.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

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  • Jul 10, 2018
Six Tips for Maintaining Good Mental Health and Well-Being

Your overall well-being involves not only physical but also mental health. The World Health Organization says that “mental health is an integral part of health; indeed, there is no health without mental health.” Just as there are things you can do to maintain your physical health, you can take steps to maintain your mental health. Here are a few tips, resources and ideas for maintaining good mental health.

  • Jun 21, 2018
Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD

New research has found that one common treatment for PTSD, prolonged exposure therapy, can be effective in a shorter, more intense format, making it potentially more acceptable and accessible to more people needing treatment.

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Can people actually have “multiple personalities” or a “split personality”?

Dissociative identity disorder involves a lack of connection among a person’s sense of identity, memory and consciousness. People with this disorder do not have more than one personality but rather less than one personality. (The name was changed recently from ‘multiple personality disorder’ to ‘dissociative identity disorder.’) This disorder usually arises in response to physical and sexual abuse in childhood as a means of surviving mistreatment by people who should be nurturing and protecting. Read More

Are people with dissociative identity disorder often misdiagnosed?

Yes. They are sometimes misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia, because their belief that they have different identities could be interpreted as a delusion. They sometimes experience dissociated identities as auditory hallucinations (hearing voices). Their symptoms do not improve with antipsychotic medication, but the emotions they display get flatter. This can leading to the mistaken belief that they have schizophrenia and to further ineffective increases in medication. Another common misdiagnosis is borderline personality disorder. People with dissociative identity disorder frequently also have depression. Read More

What symptoms would family members see in a person had dissociative identity disorder? Can friends/family members tell when a person with dissociative identity disorder “switches”?

You may notice sudden changes in mood and behavior. People with dissociative identity disorder may forget or deny saying or doing things that family members witnessed. Family members can usually tell when a person “switches.” The transitions can be sudden and startling. The person may go from being fearful, dependent and excessively apologetic to being angry and domineering. He or she may report not remembering something they said just minutes earlier. Read More

Once a person is being treated for a dissociative disorder, how can family members best support and help him/her?

Be open and accepting in your responses. Do not ‘take sides’ with one or another component of their identity. Rather view them as portions of the person as a whole. We are all different in different situations, but we see this as different sides of ourselves. Try to maintain that perspective with the person with dissociative disorder. Also, help them to protect themselves from any trauma or abuse. Read More

spiegel-expert

About the Expert:

Dr. David Spiegel
Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Director, Center on Stress and Health
Medical Director, Center for Integrative Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine

Sandra's Story

Sandra was a 25-year-old soldier hospitalized for sudden changes in behavior and episodes of apparently poor memory. She was confused about her recent history, and believed that she was in a different hospital located 800 miles from the place where she had in fact been admitted. The diagnoses initially considered included schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse. She was started on neuroleptics (tranquilizers) with little benefit.

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MAY 10, 2018

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

News-Medical.net

The prevalence of DID the general population is less than 1%. Although it is still often referred to as multiple personality disorder, it was re-classified in 1993 as dissociative identity disorder.  According to the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), DID is classified as one of the dissociative disorders, alongside depersonalisation disorder, dissociative fugue, dissociative amnesia, and dissociative disorder not otherwise specified.  This cluster of disorders is characterized by disruptions in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the self and the environment.

MAY 10, 2018

What is Depersonalisation Disorder?

Metro

Have you ever woken up to find yourself feeling not fully awake, as if you’re still trapped inside a dream? Have you looked down at your body and felt like it wasn’t yours, or saw the world as unreal, cartoon-like or 2D?  These are just a few of the debilitating symptoms of depersonalisation and derealisation – dissociative symptoms that can occur as part of several mental illnesses or on its own as Depersonalisation/Derealisation Disorder (or DPD). It's one of the lesser-known mental health conditions. 

APR 16, 2016

Mood and personality disorders are often misconceived

Medical Xpress

While the media is an important source of information about mental illness, it can misinform the public if reported inaccurately, promoting stigma and perpetuating myths. And research shows negative images of mental illness in the media (fictional and non-fictional) results in negative and inaccurate beliefs about mental illness. "Multiple personality disorder" or "split personality disorder" are colloquial terms for dissociative identity disorder.

Physician Reviewed

Philip Wang, M.D., Dr.P.H.
January 2016