Explains what dissociation and dissociative disorders are, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
You may be diagnosed with a dissociative disorder if you experience dissociation regularly, and if these episodes of dissociation are severe enough to affect your everyday life.
You might experience dissociation and find it difficult to cope with even if you don't have a dissociative disorder. For example it might be a symptom of another mental health problem. You can still seek help for this.
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Dissociative identity disorder used to be called 'multiple personality disorder'.
If you have dissociative identity disorder you will experience severe changes in your identity. Different aspects (states) of your identity may be in control of your behaviour and thoughts at different times. This can happen in various ways:
“I have many separate, distinct and unique 'parts' of my personality. My 'parts' or 'alters' collectively add up to the total person that is me... They are each a letter, and I am a sentence.”
DID can make looking after yourself harder. You might find that different parts of your identity have different needs. You may need to use different techniques for coping and looking after yourself, depending on which part of your identity is in control. If something isn't working for you, or doesn't feel possible just now, you can try something else, or come back to it another time.
For more information about coping with a dissociative disorder, see our page on self-care.
There are a number of other dissociative disorders. The diagnosis you are given will depend on the symptoms you experience most and how these affect your life.
These are the main symptoms or characteristics of each disorder:
Many people with dissociative disorders have other mental health problems too. These can include:
They may be related to dissociation or they could be a separate problem.
This information was published in March 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
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