If your teen regularly complains of feeling detached from herself or sees her environment as unreal, she might suffer from dissociative identity disorder. According to the Cleveland Clinic, DID, formerly called multiple personality disorder, tends to develop when a person experiences a traumatic event at a young age. If you suspect that your teen has DID, learn to recognize the symptoms so she can get the treatment she needs.
Watch for your teen to display two or more drastically different personalities or identities. These other personality states, sometimes called "alters," typically emerge when something reminds a person of a traumatic event, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Your teen might create and act out an identity with a different name, interests and ideals, for example. Her other identity might have its own tone of voice and mannerisms. This is the main symptom of DID.
Ask your teen whether she ever has trouble remembering certain events such as meeting a new person or having a conversation with you. When acting out another identity, she might forget important events such as birthdays, weddings or funerals. Sometimes, she might drive or walk to a location and not remember how she got there. Some people with DID will recall acting as another person, while others will not have any recollection of the experience. This symptom is known as dissociative amnesia.
Ask your teen whether she sometimes has visual or auditory hallucinations, such as hearing voices speaking in her head. According to the Mayo Clinic, many people with DID have these kinds of hallucinations.
Watch for changes in your teen's appetite. Eating much less or more than usual is a symptom of DID. This can also develop into an eating disorder such as anorexia.
Ask your teen whether she ever feels as if she's outside of her body or sees herself as if she's watching a movie. This experience, called depersonalization disorder, is a type of DID. According to the Merck Manual, your teen might say she feels like a robot or zombie that can't process or express emotions. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with the disorder often see objects as distorted or think that time has slowed down.
Note whether your teen has ever tried to distance herself physically from her true identity. People with this symptom, called dissociative fugue, might adopt a new personality and leave home in an attempt to live out the alternate identity elsewhere. An episode of dissociative fugue normally lasts for several hours, but it can affect some people for months, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Find out what time your teen goes to bed and for how long she sleeps. Ask her about the quality of her sleep. If she has an erratic sleeping schedule or frequently doesn't feel rested when she wakes, she might have DID.
- Mayo Clinic: Dissociative Disorders Symptoms
- Cleveland Clinic: Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)
- Family.com: Teens with Borderline Personality Disorders
- Timberline Knolls: Alcohol Addiction Signs, Symptoms and Effects
- Mayo Clinic: Depression (Major Depression)
- The Merck Manual: Depersonalization Disorder
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