Monday, 6 December 2010

How does PTSD relate to DID?

Does anyone have an understanding of the relationship between PTSD and DID? I want to know, is there a relationship? Do most people with DID also have PTSD? What is complex PTSD and what does it have to do with DID as well? I read something about it and it totally confused me so I'd like to hear from anyone who is wiser than I.


castorgirl said...


It depends on which theory of trauma you follow as to how the different labels are considered to be related.

Some believe that DID and PTSD are on the same scale of trauma reactions... going from PTSD > Complex PTSD > DDNOS > DID > Poly DID

If you look at the DSM, the coding for PTSD (309.81, Anxiety Disorders) and DID (300.14, Dissociative Disorder) is quite different. This usually indicates that the two aren't necessarily related. The two seem to be linked more closely in the DSM-5, as PTSD is going to mention dissociative symptoms.

Another view, are researchers like Ellert Nijenhuis, Onno van der Hart, & Kathy Steele who wrote quite an interesting take on how the different diagnoses can be looked at in their article "Trauma-related Structural Dissociation of the Personality" - They then wrote a book from this called "The Haunted Self". I found it interesting.

So, it's not a simple question to answer. Most, but not all people diagnosed with DID will also have symptoms of PTSD. But not all those who have been diagnosed with PTSD will have dissociative symptoms.

There are some interesting articles available around the Internet on this, you might want to try some Google or Google Scholar searches.

Take care,

MultipleMe said...

Firstly, I agree with everything CG said and I will definitely be checking out that article.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)- basically covers a number of symptoms that are an ongoing response to a traumatic event. Symptoms include: Panic attacks, nightmares, flashbacks as well as a multitude of other things

Complex PTSD - is when the traumatic event was reoccurring. The symptoms are the same though they maybe more frequent or stronger, also the way the person views themselves, the world, their relationships and the perpetrator is often effected and considered part of complex PTSD. Not all psychologists make a distinction between PTSD & complex PTSD.

Since DID is usually the product of ongoing child abuse (which is definitely considered traumatic) often survivors with DID will have symptoms of PTSD & may have been diagnosed with either PTSD or Complex PTSD.

There are many different views on DID, PTSD and their relation to each other - which is why it can be so confusing when you read up on it. I just remember with every book or article I read that this is someone's opinion based on research/experiences and keep an open mind.

I heard someone describe PTSD once as an umbrella that covered reactions and symptoms from trauma and that all the other disorders (DID included) that relate back to trauma fit under that umbrella. I kinda liked that analogy.

I find scales make some people feel like its competition or that what they are struggling with is somehow less than someone else simply because of where their at on that scale. Everyone deals with things differently and its not more or less difficult than any others persons struggles. Thats how I see it anyway.

Hope this helps :)