The Differences between Bipolar Disorder And DID

March 16, 2016 Crystalie Matulewicz

Mental illnesses are complex. Symptoms can be misinterpreted, resulting in a misdiagnosis. This is understandable, given that different disorders often share some similar symptoms. In cases of dissociative identity disorder (DID), there is often confusion between bipolar disorder and DID symptoms. While bipolar disorder and DID each have unique symptoms, there is some symptom overlap. It is important to recognize the differences in symptoms, as these disorders have different causes and treatments.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder involves significant, disruptive changes in mood. These cycles alternate between depressed mood and mania/hypomania, and bipolar symptoms vary in severity. Symptoms of depressive episodes can include depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, decreased energy, problems with concentration, and suicidal thoughts. Symptoms of mania (bipolar I) and hypomania (bipolar II) can include hyperactivity, impulsiveness, irritability, rapid changes in speech and thought, reckless behaviors, and/or hallucinations.

How DID Symptoms Are Mistaken For Bipolar Disorder

Several symptoms of DID appear similar to symptoms of bipolar disorder. People with DID can appear to change moods frequently. While this is actually caused by different alters coming through, it can be mistaken for the cycling moods of bipolar disorder. The rapid changes in speech and thought common in mania also occur in DID. In DID, these changes occur during switching.

Reckless behaviors, a symptom of bipolar disorder mania, can occur in DID. It is common in DID to have alters that engage in self-destructive behaviors. Sometimes, the person loses time and has no memory of behaving in that way. In bipolar disorder, memory is not affected. Depression, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts, all symptoms of depressive mood in bipolar disorder, are also present in DID, and are connected to past trauma.Bipolar disorder and dissociative identity disorder share many symptoms, but their causes and treatments differ. The correct diagnosis matters. Read this.

Hallucinations, which can occur in severe cases of bipolar disorder mania, are frequently experienced in DID. Auditory hallucinations are a common symptom of DID. In DID, these hallucinations are not attributed to psychosis; they are the voices of alters being heard by the host. In bipolar disorder, however, hallucinations are attributed to psychosis and are treated with antipsychotic medications.

Due to similarities in symptoms, it is not uncommon for people with DID to receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. When I first entered therapy, I received a diagnosis of bipolar II. I had noticeable changes in mood and demeanor, reckless behavior (that I didn't remember), and irritability. My therapist overlooked my memory problems and never inquired about a history of trauma. I was treated with several different mood stabilizers, none of which ever worked. Fourteen years later, I was diagnosed with DID.

DID And Bipolar Disorder Have Different Causes And Treatments

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is attributed to genetic, environmental, and biochemical causes. Bipolar disorders tend to run in families, suggesting a genetic link. Chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain have also been linked to bipolar disorders. DID, on the other hand, is a dissociative disorder that is attributed to environmental causes. Specifically, DID is believed to be the result of early childhood trauma.

The primary course of treatment for a bipolar disorder is medication, typically mood stabilizers. Antidepressants and antipsychotics may also be used. Therapy helps people manage stress and deal with the effects of living with bipolar disorder. The primary course of treatment for DID is therapy, with goals of processing trauma in a healthy way and learning to cooperate with alters as a system (or integrating into one identity). Medications may be used to treat some secondary symptoms, but they are not always necessary since DID is not caused by a chemical imbalance.

The correct diagnosis is essential for successful treatment of either disorder. If you think you have either disorder, or that you may have been misdiagnosed, consult a mental health professional.

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APA Reference
Matulewicz, C. (2016, March 16). The Differences between Bipolar Disorder And DID, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Crystalie Matulewicz

Crystalie is the founder of PAFPAC, is a published author and the writer of Life Without Hurt. She has a BA in psychology and will soon have an MS in Experimental Psychology, with a focus on trauma. Crystalie manages life with PTSD, DID, major depression, and an eating disorder. You can find Crystalie on FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter.

February, 6 2023 at 7:49 pm

I know very little about bipolar. However, I have DID. I've never blacked out (amnesia) but every time I get highly stressed my personality changes. Totally aware. I stay in that personality until the next stressful event, sometimes years. These are major changes like sexual orientation, gender, job skills, every day preferences etc. Each personality has a name, often legally changed. It is incredibly frustrating to not know who you are. I often dream I'm falling over a cliff in slow motion, into the abyss.

October, 13 2018 at 9:32 pm

I'm bipolar II (untreated as i dont have health insurance)
And I hear voices, and I could swear to you Im a whole different person when I become manic or depressed. Does that sound like DID?

Andressa Andrade
December, 2 2017 at 11:11 am

I have two friends, one who has DID and other who was diagnosed as bipolar. To me, they have very different symptoms but lately, I began to notice a few similarities that got me worried. I mean, misdiagnosing is always a problem when it comes to any health issue, mental health included. But now I feel I understand it all better. I'll do some further reading to learn how I can better advise my friend. Thank you so much for sharing this article!

October, 17 2017 at 3:08 am

I have at least 5 different personalities, all of which are different versions if myself meaning same name as me, all female like me, all similar appearances however new people I've met and also good friends have all said that I have about 5 different looks to me as well and they don't even know about this....and they are dead on when they try to explain these looks or quick drastic changes to how I look, sound, or act. I have personalities that are different ages tho like one version of me I'm nuch younger like a teen or even younger, one im around my real age (mid 30s), one im older, I carry different lifestyles in these minds like one is a sex addict, one a drug addict, one a over sensitive emotional mess who feels bullied or belittled constantly, 1 where i am more of a badass or bitch who constantly seeks revenge on people who have wronged her , holds grudges forever , swears, wants to be voilent, 1 where I'm forgiving and loves god and devotes my heart to Jesus and wants to be at you see they're all very different but yet they are all pieces of me therefore I have no idea who i actually am ....

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 8 2018 at 8:33 pm

I'm here unexpectedly, but wanted to answer your question really quick. D.I.D. happens in many stages and its best understood right now if you see those stages on a continuum. It sounds like you are almost all the way to the end of the continuum with severe compartmentalization --- in this way your entire consciousness may appear shattered and you may experience yourself in pieces so to speak. But the reality is you are still whole only the "pieces" are separated by disassociative walls. The CORE of you can permeate these walls and shift (not switch) into each compartment or piece, but you won't remember what's in the other "compartments" until you are in one. They are walled off pieces of consciousness that continue to develop and grow. That's just what consciousness does. They won't ever develop into full blown personalities because this is decided when the trauma survivor is between 1-6yrs old. But living with this form of D.I.D. is worse in my opinion. I had to move down the continuum from full blown D.I.D. and compartmentalization has been the hardest challenges so far. Stay strong. It's clear you have an incredible will to live. The answers will come. Don't give up!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 8 2018 at 8:44 pm

And just as an example of the difference (in my experience) of compartmentalization and full blown D.I.D. First of all, I consider them both D.I.D. even though compartmentalization is at the severe end of the continuum and then if the trauma was repetitive and brutal enough the person goes behind an amnesiac barrier and the consciousness continues fragmenting but then develops into separate personalities. So I had to integrate enough to go back through the amnesia barrier and land on the other side into my consciousness being more compartmentalized. This has been harder because at least with having "people" I could work with them one on one and they could work with one another inside. But now that I'm primarily compartmentalized (I can make often function now in regular society and I now have a cohesive understanding of my daily timeline!), but I don't understand who I am even more than before. Because before I was simply in survival mode and helping my people recover. Now I've re-inherited almost my whole consciousness, but it's like shifting into 15 people who are all me (instead of my people switching). I'm gonna explore this website and see if they have answers. I just found this place. I'm happy there's people helping each other.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 16 2018 at 1:11 am

You are the core. The person God made you. He wants to heal your whole person. Through love and support from Father God, my wonderful husband and close friends. I wouldn't of made it. Just keep seeking to know the Truth and the Truth will set you free. God made you so you are what wonderfully made. Praying for hope and Truth in Jesus name.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 21 2018 at 9:56 am

Thank you for those wonderful words. I stumbled across this site as I'm trying to research information on this mental illness. My son has been diagnosed with bipolar depression however I see a lot of DID symptoms. While he used to be on fire for the Lord, he now wants nothing to do with him and professes to no longer be a Christian. He began to delve into spiritual darkness and I am broken in pieces. How can I lead my son back to Christ? I'm lost and don't know what to do.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 22 2018 at 8:33 am

It’s normal for young people, even those without mental illness, to have a change of faith. It could be part of the illness or it may be his choice. It’s most important that he’s getting help for his disorder. There are also pastoral counselors which include faith in their practice.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alaina/ Zoella.
September, 30 2018 at 9:06 pm

One part of me is crazy. I started repeating words (heavier and heavier, higher and higher). I had a list of people that I would kill. One part of me is a guy he is nice and has my overall personally. Pretty emo but generally a nice person but he had a depressing life. Anther part of me is a singer. I listen to a lot of music at she likes to sing. My Friends also have seen the different parts of me. My name is Alaina but anther part of me is Zoella. She has everything and i am jealous of her. I always wrote Alaina/Zoella. But since I am also a guy I wanted to change my name to Aryn.

March, 28 2016 at 5:16 pm

I have had several bouts with chronic depression featuring. It feels like I am setting in the ocean work wading and bog wave that come along the knock me down but are just not strong enough. Now I am experiencing gaps in time. I lose track of what I was doing then I catch myself in a situation I know nothing about. Twice now I have found myself outside not knowing why.

March, 21 2016 at 12:28 am

I have often wondered if I had DID. I'm bipolar but also have memory lapses. I think it's time to talk to my doctor.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Crystalie Matulewicz
May, 5 2016 at 12:01 pm

Do you have a therapist or psychiatrist? Either would be the best to go to and talk about your concerns. There are tests you can take that measure dissociative symptoms, which can be useful in some cases.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 21 2018 at 9:58 am

Hi, first and foremost, thank you for your wonderful help. May you be blessed abundantly. Are the tests on line or through a physician/therapist only?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 11 2022 at 10:11 pm

Hey, AM. I AM Universal Human VII and like your son I went through what seems like similar patterns of behavior.
Upon the completion of my self-discovery Journey, I AM now hopefully able to offer answers to your questions.
How is your son doing nowadays? Seeing as this post was made 4 years ago.
Hope to hear from you. Have an amazing day!
Also thanks to ALL who have shared from their experiences in this Journey of Life. 🤍🤍🤍

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