What Are the Symptoms of Split Personality Disorder?

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An individual with dissociative identity disorder, or DID, may experience emotional and neurological symptoms such as depression, memory loss, anxiety attacks, delusions, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, headaches and substance abuse, reports the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. DID is often referred to as multiple or split personality disorder because the individual shifts between different personality states with distinct identities and behavioral patterns.

Another common symptom of DID is self-destructive or violent behavior that contrasts with the person’s normal personality, according to WebMD. For example, an individual may feel driven to act out of character and try risky behaviors, such as stealing or speeding. Shifting between alternate personalities can make DID sufferers feel disoriented and lose track of time or events, producing an amnesia effect. Children with DID may show more signs of anxiety, and they often struggle to stay focused in school, notes NAMI.

DID is typically triggered by damaging emotional trauma during an abusive childhood experience and can result in more than 100 identities, according to WebMD. In addition to behavioral differences, alternate personalities can have different physical traits, such as race, age and gender. DID episodes are often brought on by stress, and the individual’s identities may compete for control. Between shifts, the person may even deny knowledge of the other personalities or speak of conflicts between different identities.