Dissociative Identity Disorder Awareness Day Date in the current year: March 5, 2024

Dissociative Identity Disorder Awareness Day Dissociative Identity Disorder Awareness Day, also known as DID Awareness Day, is observed annually on March 5 to raise awareness of a psychiatric disorder that is surrounded by myths and misconceptions.

Dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder or split personality disorder, is a psychiatric disorder characterized by the presence of at least two distinct and relatively enduring personality states that alternatively show in a person’s behavior. These states (alternative personalities, or alters) may have different names, genders, mannerisms, and personality traits. Patients with DID often have memory gaps that are not consistent with normal forgetfulness; they result from switching between personalities, which is usually caused by a certain stressor.

Despite being widely represented in the media, DID is a relatively (but not exceedingly) rare disorder that is believed to affect about 1.1–1.5% of the general population, although the exact number of people with DID is unclear because the disorder is often misdiagnosed. Patients with DID typically have comorbid disorders such as depression, PTSD, BPD, anxiety, etc., which makes DID even harder to diagnose because it must be distinguished from those disorders. Women are diagnosed with DID more often than men.

The exact cause of DID is unknown. The most common theory claims that early childhood trauma can place a person at risk of developing the disorder as a coping mechanism Most individuals diagnosed with DID have had traumatic childhood experiences such as neglect, dysfunctional family dynamics, severe bullying, violence, rape, loss of a loved one, multiple painful medical procedures, etc.

Due to its often inaccurate portrayal in the media, there are many myths about DID. For example, many people think that it is a fictitious disorder that attention-seekers claim to have. However, it is a very real disorder listed in the ICD and other medical classifications, and experienced psychiatrists can tell whether a person is faking DID or their symptoms are genuine.

Another common myth is that switches between different personalities are dramatic and involve obvious differences in self-expression, mannerisms, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc. but it is rarely so. While close friends and relatives might notice some changes in the way the person behaves, especially if they are already aware of the condition, alters typically try to blend in as much as possible because their main task is to protect the “core personality”. In addition, people with DID are not able to just switch on demand.

Treatment of DID is focused on relieving is distressing aspects and improving the individual’s general daily life functioning and ability to maintain healthy relationships. It usually involves different psychotherapy techniques and medications for comorbid disorders such as depression or anxiety.

The origins of Dissociative Identity Disorder Awareness Day are somewhat murky. Some sources state it was created in 2004, while others claim it has been observed since 2012. Be that as it may, the day helps educate the general public about DID and other dissociative disorders (dissociative amnesia, depersonalization-derealization disorder, etc.), and dispel the common myths and misconceptions surrounding them.

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