Learn 7 effective coping strategies if you or a loved one struggles with dissociative identity disorder.
Dissociative identity disorder is a severe type of dissociation where someone loses connection with their sense of identity, as well as their thoughts, feelings and memories. Dissociative identity disorder symptoms may include the feeling of having two or more separate identities or states of personality. This condition is likely a coping mechanism to deal with a severely traumatic experience.
A dissociative disorder can cause serious problems with your daily mental functioning, along with significant problems in school, at work and in relationships. However, there are various strategies that can help you cope with dissociative identity disorder. These tips aren’t a replacement for treatment, but they can help you effectively manage your symptoms.
1. Build Your Knowledge of Dissociative Identity Disorder
Empower yourself with information about your condition. Learn what the disorder is and what it isn’t. When researching dissociative identity disorder resources, you may learn that:
- This condition typically stems from exposure to intense trauma
- There are specific symptoms that you struggle with, but also ones that you don’t have
- Self-blame and shame are not good coping mechanisms
- Dissociative identity disorder occurs along a spectrum of severity, like many mental health disorders
Your research can help you focus on the particular resources that are most relevant to you.
2. Develop Alternative Coping Strategies for Painful Emotions
There are different ways to cope with dissociative identity disorder. Several key points about coping strategies include:
- The most effective strategies for you can depend on the specific symptoms you experience
- Unhealthy coping mechanisms can’t heal the symptoms or the underlying trauma contributing to the disorder
- Recognize positive and healthy coping strategies, rather than relying on unhealthy options such as using substances like alcohol
- Learn how to recognize your distinct identities, and be aware of how they may differ from one another
- Writing about your identities and also planning to experience each of them may be helpful
- Identifying triggers can help you be more aware of and avoid them when possible
- Creating schedules and calendars with careful notes can help you become reoriented when necessary
3. Learn How to Curb Impulsive Behavior
Acting on impulses can be a symptom of dissociative identity disorder. It can take time and work, but learning how to curb impulsive behavior can be helpful in all areas of your life. Planning and doing some of the tips above, such as creating schedules and calendars, can help with impulse control.
Learning to curb impulsive behavior can start with:
- Identifying the times when you are most likely to act impulsively
- Document times when you act impulsively
- Come up with healthy strategies for dealing with instances of impulsivity
- Create a routine for times when you’re more likely to behave impulsively (for example, maybe plan to contact a close friend or family member when you feel like you could act impulsively)
4. Practice Relaxation Techniques
You may benefit from practicing relaxation techniques because internal chatter can become overwhelming. Learn how to practice relaxation in a way that works for you. It can vary for everyone, and it may take some time to find the strategies that will work best for you.
When you’re overwhelmed or stressed, you can aim to:
- Recenter yourself
- Practice mindfulness
- Try out yoga or some form of physical activity
- Do something with your hands (e.g., knitting or crafting) to help you practice relaxation techniques
5. Create a Daily Schedule
Creating a daily schedule to structure your day is so important when you are coping with dissociative identity disorder. Developing a schedules can help you:
- Stay grounded and present
- Remove unexpected situations that create stress or lead to impulsive behaviors
- Stay focused if you are moving between different areas of consciousness or having gaps in your memory
6. Form a Support Network
When you have dissociative identity disorder, you may want to hide it from the people around you, yet that can lead to social isolation. Having a support network is essential for your mental health and quality of life.
Don’t shut everyone out when you have dissociative identity disorder. Instead of closing yourself off, you can:
- Look into online support groups and communities: One specific online community is called DPSelfHelp.com. This site features blog posts as well as a forum where people can share in an online community.
- Find a Facebook group: There is a popular Facebook support group called Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
- Find helpful organizations: The SIDRAN Institute is an organization that helps connect people who have experienced trauma with online and local resources.
These support groups can help you realize that you aren’t alone. You can feel less isolated by hearing stories that may be similar to your own, and you can form relationships. You can also find friends that you can confide in, and share what you’re going through.
7. Seek Professional Help
Dissociative identity disorder treatment can help you thrive physically and mentally. Dissociative identity disorder therapy may include:
- A combination of psychotherapy and medication
- Learning how to identify and refine coping strategies
- Getting to the root of where the disorder stems from in your life
- Support and information from a therapist
If you would like to learn more about drug or alcohol addiction treatment, or treatment for dissociative identity disorder and other available resources, please contact The Recovery Village. A caring representative can answer your questions and guide you in the direction of treatment.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “Dissociative Disorders.” Accessed January 10, 2019.
American Psychiatric Association. “What Are Dissociative Disorders?.” August 2018. Accessed January 10, 2019.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.