Teen Dissociative identity disorder

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Dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder, is a complex psychological condition characterized by having multiple, distinct personalities. It is a severe form of teen mental illness that causes a person to lose connection with their sense of identity, thoughts, memories, emotions, perceptions, feelings, actions, and behaviors. A person with DID usually dissociates themselves with other personalities, which may be violent or traumatic.

Although DID may be considered rare — 1% of the world population suffers from this condition — some cases go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. It may be caused by several factors, such as emotional neglect, abuse, and severe childhood trauma. Anyone who experiences symptoms of DID should be checked, diagnosed, and treated by professionals who specialize in this disorder.

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In this article, we will debunk DID myths and understand its causes and symptoms, as well as the mental health treatment for teens methods that can be used according to your child’s condition.

10 Surprising Facts about DID

DID is usually referred to as having multiple, “split” personalities that come and go, depending on a person’s current emotions or triggers. The rarity of the disorder makes it challenging for most people to understand its severity.

To provide a more in-depth insight into DID, here are some facts and statistics that may be of interest to parents who may have a teen dealing with this disorder.

  • DID is one of several types of dissociative disorders. Other types are depersonalized or derealization disorders and dissociative amnesia.
  • There are 2.5 million people in the United States who suffer from DID. Almost 50% of American adults have experienced at least one dissociative episode, but the majority of them do not qualify for treatment.
  • Around 1% of the world population suffers from DID, making the disorder rare.
  • Some people diagnosed with DID are victims of childhood trauma from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Moreover, as many as 10% of these people reported experiences with childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Countries that experience large-scale trauma, such as war or natural disasters, are likely to have more cases of DID.
  • DID is most common in countries from North America and Europe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 1 million cases of DID are in the United States.
  • More than 70% of people with DID have attempted suicide and other self-harm behaviors.
  • DID was first considered a dissociative disorder. However, it was moved to the trauma-based category. Episodes of dissociation may occur not only in one’s home but also outdoors or even in the workplace, especially when there is a history of trauma and triggers in that place.
  • A person with this condition may experience nightmares, sudden flashbacks, visual or auditory hallucinations, intense emotions, extreme headaches, memory gaps or dissociative amnesia, and loss of consciousness and sense of identity. However, these symptoms may also correlate with psychosis, so consulting a medical professional is recommended.
  • Dissociation may occur due to childhood trauma experienced as early as nine years of age. In terms of gender, women are more likely to be diagnosed with DID than men, at a ratio of 10:1.
  • In order to raise awareness about DID, this disorder has been featured in movies and television. Some examples are “The Three Faces of Eve,” “The United States of Tara,” and “Sybil.”

Debunking the Myths about DID

Several myths about DID circulate on the internet, worrying those who experience the symptoms and are clinically diagnosed. Here are some of the myths about DID and their respective truths.

  • People with DID are faking it — It is not easy to fake dissociative episodes. People with DID find it hard to openly discuss their past experiences since these may trigger their traumas. Thanks to social media, TikTok and YouTube content creators with DID have raised awareness to end the stigma surrounding this disorder.

However, some attention-seeking “influencers” have caused people to think that those with DID are “faking it.” They quickly “change their personalities” on camera and discuss their experiences with inconsistent facts — most of which were acquired from movies and TV.

  • DID stems from childhood trauma — DID is associated with significant issues in child-parent relationships, but this is not always the case. DID may also be caused by trauma experienced during teenage years or even adulthood, such as rape, harassment, war, or even natural disasters.
  • DID is something new — The first documented case of DID was recorded in 1584, although it was not yet labeled as DID. This patient exhibited the traits of a “spiritually possessed person.” Later on, Multiple Personality Disorder (now referred to as DID) was discovered and diagnosed by physician Jean-Martin Charco in the 1880s. It was characterized by symptoms of hysteria and epilepsy.
  • DID is so rare as to be irrelevant — DID is rare, considering the percentage of its population, which is about 1.5% of the global population. However, over 100 million people have this condition, which is a considerably large number. It is not genetic and is generally caused by environmental conditions. This means that anyone with past traumatic experiences is at risk.
  • DID is not a real disorder — The clinical results and research have proven that DID is a mental health condition or disorder. It is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in the category of mental disorders.

How the Media and Pop Culture Portrays DID

In 2016, Blumhouse Productions created an American psychological horror movie “Split” which starred James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy. The film focused on Kevin (McAvoy), who suffered from DID with 24 different personalities or alter egos. He experienced child trauma, and he resorted to manifesting other personalities to cope with his abusive mother with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). He managed to live with his 23 personalities with the help of his therapist. However, things changed when he kidnapped and imprisoned three teenagers. He then killed his therapist. Throughout the movie, Kevin is portrayed to be a person capable of being friendly and becoming a ruthless killer at the same time.

However, the film failed to represent DID accurately, according to medical experts who studied the disorder. Most media create the misconception that people with DID can be dangerous, but this is not necessarily true. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) recognized DID as a psychiatric disorder that creates “alters” with distinct personalities based on trauma, phobias, or mood disturbances. The alter egos are based on what triggers them, which may or may not always be dangerous.

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There are many Celebrities with OCD problems who admitted their mental health issues publically.

Other Known Truths About DID

DID is often characterized by memory lapses, blackouts, and other experiences of “spacing out.” Several situations can cause DID, like sexual or physical abuse, as well as traumatic experiences such as natural disasters or being in combat. According to studies, the disorder is a way for a person to “detach” themselves from the pain of their triggers.

Teens are at risk of developing DID, especially those who experience domestic violence, sexual harassment, bullying, and drug abuse. Alter egos may exist or coexist within one person, but they do not manifest simultaneously. They have distinct genders, ethnicities, and interests. DID’s common signs and symptoms are anxiety, delusions, disorientation, loss of memory, drug and alcohol use or abuse, and depression.

Although most people who experience these symptoms want to get tested, nothing can diagnose DID. Since the disorder is usually caused by past experiences, instead of chemical imbalances in the brain, it is hard to perform clinical tests to conclude that a condition is DID. However, a healthcare professional may also look for physical causes, such as head injuries or brain tumors.

Management and Treatment Methods

There are no specific medications yet for DID, but its symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, can be minimized by anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotic drugs, or anti-depressants.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is considered the best and most effective method of treating DID. A specialized healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, can help patients acknowledge and work with their past traumas, manage their impulsive behaviors, and eventually merge the multiple personalities into a single identity.

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While DID is a rare condition, anyone with past traumas might be at risk. It is one of the most controversial disorders nowadays, and it is difficult to understand without medical assistance. It is a challenge for both parents and teens, so it is crucial to seek help from professionals who specialize in this field. This will help you understand your child’s experiences and how they affect their behavior. If your teen is suffering from the symptoms of DID, know that you are not alone. Key Transitions is here to help you with your teen addiction treatment.

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