What is Other Specified Dissociative Disorder?
Wednesday, August 31 2016 Crystalie Matulewicz
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is just one of several diagnoses listed in the dissociative disorders section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Many people live with dissociative symptoms, but don't meet all of the criteria necessary for a diagnosis of DID. When this is the case, a different diagnosis -- other specified dissociative disorder (OSDD) -- can be more fitting. These diagnoses all have dissociation in common, so what makes them different?
The 'DSM-5' Definition of Other Specified Dissociative Disorder
According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of OSDD is given when a person is experiencing symptoms of a dissociative disorder, like dissociative identity disorder (DID) or depersonalization/derealization disorder, but doesn't meet all of the criteria required for a specific dissociative disorder diagnosis. For example, a person may fit only four out of the five diagnostic criteria for DID. Since all five criteria have to be met for a DID diagnosis, the diagnosis would instead be OSDD.
Other specified dissociative disorder can present in many different ways. In some cases, the dissociative symptoms are caused by a reaction to stress and last only for a short time. In other cases, brainwashing or coercion can cause identity disturbances similar to those in DID, but without the other symptoms. In these types of cases, an OSDD diagnosis is appropriate.
What Happened to Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified?
Other specified disorders and unspecified disorders are new classifications that replaced the former not otherwise specified (NOS) designation, which was used for many mental disorders, including dissociative disorders. The change was made to give clinicians more flexibility, and has no effect on those with the disorder. If you were diagnosed prior to the switch in the DSM-5, your diagnosis was dissociative disorder NOS. If you were recently reevaluated or newly diagnosed, your diagnosis would be OSDD.
The symptoms are still the same. The treatment is still the same. The only difference is the name.
Differentiating Between Dissociative Identity Disorder and Other Specified Dissociative Disorder
Some people with OSDD have two or more distinct personality states, or alters, but don't experience any gaps in memory or amnesia, a necessary symptom for a DID diagnosis. Other people with OSDD do not have fully developed personality states. They do not have separate identities, though they often feel like they may have different parts of themselves or different ways of being. Dissociative symptoms, depersonalization, and derealization are also commonly experienced in these forms of OSDD.
It's important to note that someone with OSDD may actually have DID. It is possible that a person has experienced amnesia, but doesn't realize it because alters have kept traumatic memories hidden. It is also possible that a person does have alters, but lacks awareness of his or her system until much later on. An OSDD diagnosis isn't always final, and the diagnosis can change to DID if all the criteria are met.
Other Specified Dissociative Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder: Different Diagnoses, Same Experiences
If you have been diagnosed with OSDD (or the previous diagnosis of dissociative disorder NOS), know that your experiences are valid. Just because you don't have a DID diagnosis, does not mean you suffer any less. We all share the experience of dissociation. Many of us, those with DID and those with OSDD, have experienced trauma and abuse. We each struggle with some aspects of daily life. A diagnostic label is just a technicality.