While there is no absolute cure for dissociative identity disorder (DID), therapy can reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

DID is a rare condition where you have two or more distinct personality states. The symptoms are often lifelong, but treatments can help you cope.

Treatment and recovery from DID look different for everyone. As part of treatment, your mental health professional may recommend treatments to help you cope with related issues, like post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety.

Consider speaking with a mental health professional about the best treatment for you.

While you can’t fully cure the condition, DID treatment can improve your overall quality of life. This might involve therapy, medications, and hospital visits if needed.

Recovery from DID is focused primarily on stabilization and reducing disruptive symptoms.

The symptoms of DID include having two or more distinct personality states and episodes of amnesia (memory gaps). People with DID may experience severe dissociation to cope with past trauma.

According to 2018 research, studies that have examined treatment outcomes in people with DID report:

Treatment can help alleviate symptoms, but some people report no changes in dissociation and other overwhelming symptoms even after treatment. Research from 2019 suggests that many people do not fully recover from the challenges of severe dissociation present in DID.

If you feel your current treatments are not having the desired effect, consider speaking with a mental health professional about other treatments or self-care that might help.

There are various methods of treatment for DID.

Research indicates that many treatment models focus on three phases:

  • stabilization and safety
  • discussing, working through, and integrating traumatic memories
  • working on your relationship with yourself and the world

The authors note that the three phases of treatment are based on some common therapeutic modalities used for the treatment of DID, which are:

Research from 2020 also identified cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and some types of group therapy as useful modalities. It also emphasized the importance of finding the right therapist.

Medications do not help treat dissociation; however, many people with DID may find medications helpful for co-occurring mental health disorders that commonly occur with DID, such as anxiety and depression.

If you have dissociative identity disorder, you may wonder what you can do outside of therapy to help with symptoms. According to 2020 research, several strategies can help reduce symptoms:

Practice grounding techniques

Grounding is a practice that comes from connecting your body to the earth.

Grounding is a type of mindfulness technique that can provide calm and help you reconnect with yourself and your environment. This can help relieve anxiety and panic.

Some ways to practice grounding include:

  • The 5-4-3-2-1 technique: Name 5 things you see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
  • Yoga practice or stretching: Yoga practice or stretching on a mat can help you feel more emotionally calm and ground you.
  • Music therapy: Being able to flow with music and move your body can provide relief from overwhelming emotions for some people.

Use distress tolerance skills

Distress tolerance skills are a common part of DBT. They can help when you are in crisis or overwhelmed.

One example of a distress tolerance skill is the A.C.C.E.P.T.S. acronym:

  • Activities: Find an activity or hobby you enjoy that requires concentration and focus.
  • Contributing: Engage in something that takes you outside of yourself, such as volunteering or participating in a random act of kindness toward someone else.
  • Comparisons: Think of a time when you may have been in a worse situation or felt more pain than you do now.
  • Emotions: Try to create an emotion opposite to what you’re experiencing. For example, if you’re feeling sad, you may try to watch a comedy movie. If you’re anxious, you may try deep breathing to help yourself feel calm.
  • Pushing away: Try pushing away negative thoughts until it feels like you can manage them better. It may help to think of a metaphor for pushing your thoughts away, such as sweeping them under the rug or storing them somewhere safe so you can deal with them later.
  • Thoughts: When your emotions take control, try to do something to focus on your thoughts. You may try counting backward from 100, reading a book you enjoy, or reciting or reading poetry.
  • Sensations: When you are experiencing overwhelming emotions, you may try to do something that allows you to focus on your five senses that takes you away from that emotion. Some examples may be eating sour candy or holding a piece of ice.

Another example of a distress tolerance skill is the concept of radical acceptance. Radical acceptance helps you keep the pain you’re experiencing from turning into suffering by letting go of bitterness and destructive behaviors.

When you practice radical acceptance, you learn to accept the present moment without trying to change it.

There is no cure for DID, but there are ways to cope that can help you improve your quality of life. Many people must learn how to manage the symptoms of DID for the rest of their lives.

Learning appropriate coping strategies and processing past trauma with a therapist may help treat DID. Working with a mental health professional to help identify the signs of DID and strategies to manage it can help you find relief.

You can practice grounding techniques, learn more about the disorder, and use distress tolerance skills to alleviate the impacts of symptoms. For more about DID, consider visiting First Person Plural Dissociative Identity Disorders Association for resources.