As a parent, you never want to think about your child struggling with any kind of health problem, including mental health problems. However, just like adults, children can struggle with mental health issues. One such mental health disorder that can affect children is dissociative identity disorder, commonly referred to as DID and formerly known as multiple personality disorder. If you have noticed strange behaviors and memory lapses in your child, you may find yourself wondering if the cause is DID. Learn more about this condition and how you can help your child manage it if they do have it. Then, you can be sure you are helping your child in the best way possible going forward.
Most Children with DID Have a History of Trauma
One of the key features of dissociative identity disorder is a history of trauma. The vast majority of people of any age with the condition have experienced severe trauma in their lifetime. This can include sexual abuse, neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse.
It can be difficult to come to terms with the idea that your child may have experienced such trauma, particularly if they are young. However, it is important that you try to work through your feelings about these traumas and show your child support as they go through mental health treatment. In fact, it can be beneficial for you to go to your own therapist to help you cope with what is happening with your child.
Signs of DID Can Be Quite Subtle
If you are worried about your child possibly having dissociative identity disorder, you have already seen some of the signs of this disorder. However, there are also some subtle signs you may not even have realized are indicative of DID. For example, children with the disorder may have several imaginary friends.
While many children have an imaginary friend, children with DID may report having several friends that do not actually exist. They may also blame certain behaviors the child has engaged in on one of their imaginary friends. While you may assume that a child will blame poor behavior on an imaginary friend to avoid being in trouble, a child with DID might attribute positive or neutral behaviors or actions to that friend. For example, they may say that their friend cleaned their room.
Children with DID may also simply seem to have a bad memory. They might forget entire conversations, large portions of the day, or several days entirely. A child might even forget who a close family member is when they have DID because the identity or part is not familiar with those people. Parents often mistake these memory lapses for playing, lying, or not paying attention.
DID Is Treatable
The good news is that even though DID is a serious mental health disorder, treatment is available. Children's therapy is the main form of treatment for children with DID. A therapist will get to know the different personalities and work with your child to try to help your child (and all of their personalities) function in the world. The main goal of therapy is also to eventually integrate those personalities into one, thus undoing the split. This is a lofty goal, though, and many people with DID maintain various personalities for many years.
Now that you know more about dissociative identity disorder in children, you can get your child to a therapist or psychiatrist as soon as possible if you believe they are struggling with this disorder.
When I first started understanding my anxiety, I realized that I wasn't capable of taking care of the issue on my own. Instead of trying to quietly navigate my condition, I decided to start working towards understanding the counseling process. I focused on finding the right counselor, and then I worked hard in therapy day in and day out. This blog is all about understanding how counseling can help, because I know how much it helped me. You never know, by talking with the right person and tackling your issues head-on, you might be able to enjoy a more fulfilling life.