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Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)

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What Are the Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder? continued...

Along with the dissociation and multiple or split personalities, people with dissociative disorders may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Sleep disorders (insomnia, night terrors, and sleep walking)
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias (flashbacks, reactions to stimuli or "triggers")
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Compulsions and rituals
  • Psychotic-like symptoms (including auditory and visual hallucinations)
  • Eating disorders

Other symptoms of dissociative identity disorder may include headache, amnesia, time loss, trances, and "out of body experiences." Some people with dissociative disorders have a tendency toward self-persecution, self-sabotage, and even violence (both self-inflicted and outwardly directed). As an example, someone with dissociative identity disorder may find themselves doing things they wouldn't normally do, such as speeding, reckless driving, or stealing money from their employer or friend, yet they feel they are being compelled to do it. Some describe this feeling as being a passenger in their body rather than the driver. In other words, they truly believe they have no choice.

What's the Difference Between Dissociative Identity Disorder and Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder are often confused, but they are very different.

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness involving chronic (or recurrent) psychosis, characterized mainly by hearing or seeing things that aren't real (hallucinations) and thinking or believing things with no basis in reality (delusions). Contrary to popular misconceptions, people with schizophrenia do not have multiple personalities. Delusions are the most common psychotic symptom in schizophrenia; hallucinations, particularly hearing voices, are apparent in about half of people with the illness.

Suicide is a risk with both schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder, although patients with multiple personalities have a history of suicide attempts more often than other psychiatric patients.

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