Good day my DID family. Today’s article is written in the third person because I wanted to publish this article on Medium.com as well, so please forgive the tone of it and how it sounds. It is a reporting piece but I thought you all would enjoy reading it. Shirley
Co-Occurring Diagnoses that Sometimes Accompanies Dissociative Identity Disorder
As if having dissociative identity disorder (DID) isn’t stressful enough, most of those who are diagnosed with it also are plagued with other diagnoses, both mental and physical, that make their lives even harder.
Today this article will discuss only a few of the co-occurring diagnoses that can accompany dissociative identity disorder.
Mental Health Diagnoses
There is a myriad of mental health problems that can accompany dissociative identity disorder including any and all of the following:
- High Functioning Autism
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Psychogenic Seizures
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
- Drug or Alcohol Dependence or Addiction
The list is endless. To be clear, not everyone who lives with the diagnosis of DID has these co-occurring diagnoses, but many do.
An interesting side note is that the last diagnosis on my list, borderline personality disorder, is very closely related to dissociative identity disorder. While many other disorders have dissociative symptoms, BPD has severe dissociative symptoms like DID but there are no alter selves involved.
Physical Health Problems
Due to the stress hormones that flooded adult survivor’s bodies when they were children, there are a number of physical health problems that people with DID face including but not limited to the following:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Brain Changes (from childhood)
- Chronic Pain
Again, this is only a tiny sample of the physical disorders that might accompany dissociative identity disorder.
Early Death with Dissociative Identity Disorder from ACEs
Anyone who has heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or any of a thousand illnesses that accompany DID will have a shorter lifespan than those who do not.
That is a fact that cannot be changed.
To prove the point look at a study conducted by the Kaiser Permanente San Diego Department of Preventive Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The study was conducted using data from 17,337 people over the age of 18 using their adverse childhood experiences scores (ACEs) and following them for several years and recording their deaths.1
They found that childhood trauma reduces a person’s lifespan by an average of twenty years. That is 1.5 times higher early death rate than the general population.
There can be no doubt that someone who would form a major dissociative disorder such as DID would definitely have a high ACE score and by default die on average twenty years earlier than their peers.
Suicide and Dissociative Identity Disorder
Unfortunately, an enormous percentage of people diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder die by suicide. A paper published in the journal EC Psychology and Psychiatry stated an astounding finding that between 70-72% of people diagnosed with DID have suicidal feelings or actions.2 One can only imagine the percentage of these folks who eventually will complete suicide and rob the world of their voice and beauty.
The reason so many die by suicide is complicated but this article will endeavor to shed light on a few of them. They include:
- Helplessness to Change the Facts of One’s History
- Family Rejection
If you add into the mix one of the other co-occurring diagnoses such as borderline personality disorder which itself has a huge suicide rate, and major depression and you have a recipe for disaster.
Overcoming Dissociative Identity Disorder Takes Time
This article has tackled the major negative health impacts of the co-occurring diagnoses and suicide rates of those living with dissociative identity disorder. But it would be remiss not to mention that there is hope for anyone living with DID, it just takes time.
The only way to overcome the symptoms and physical plus emotional effects that accompany DID is to keep moving forward via therapy.
There are no easy or quick methods to achieving control over the lives of those afflicted with dissociative identity disorder, as therapy can take several years and sometimes even decades to complete.
However, dissociative identity disorder is treatable and can be overcome with persistence, guts, and determination.
Most of all, do not become another statistic or steal from the world your voice and the music in your heart. Life is a challenge, but that’s what makes living so beautiful. Every challenge leads to new opportunities to grow and to learn about yourself and those around you.
Take up the challenge and enjoy the adventure.
“I am more than my scars.” ~ Andrew Davidson
- Anda, R. F., Dong, M., Brown, D. W., Felitti, V. J., Giles, W. H., Perry, G. S., … & Dube, S. R. (2009). The relationship of adverse childhood experiences to a history of premature death of family members. BMC public health, 9(1), 106.
- Tesfaye, E., Alemayehu, S., Masane, M., (2019). Dissociative Identity Disorder Presenting with Multiple Suicidal Attempts: A Case Study. EC Psychology and Psychiatry. Retrieved from: https://www.ecronicon.com/ecpp/pdf/ECPP-08-00495.pdf