Depersonalization & Derealization (Feeling unreal)
A message from Rob:
I help people build self-trust during these difficult times. Self-trust is the health of the mind. In my audiobook, I provide a listening script for depersonalization, which helps you to build this trust.
Peace, wellness, and love,
Depersonalization is characterized by a feeling of detachment or estrangement from one's self. During an episode of depersonalization, the sense of ‘self’ is disturbed. There is an overall feeling of estrangement and detachment from the self.
During the experience of derealization, the perception of reality feels distorted and there is a sense of being detached from the outside world. It can feel like living in a dream.
Depersonalization can be very distressing because it seems like one is losing their grip on reality, losing control, or 'going insane.'
PTSD / Trauma & DPD
Dissociation is common in people who have suffered through a traumatic event. Symptoms of Depersonalization are commonly reported in people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Have you had it?
Most people have experienced at least one episode of depersonalization or derealization at least once in their lifetime. It could be a fleeting sensation for a few seconds or an unpleasant experience that lasts a while. The disturbance was temporary. The disturbance could have been associated with anxiety, depression, or fatigue. However, a smaller percentage of people experience a chronic form of these episodes. In this case, the term, Depersonalization Disorder is used.
Depersonalization Disorder (DPD)
When depersonalization becomes a chronic condition, it’s listed under the category of Dissociative Disorders. Dissociative Disorders are disruptions in the cohesive function of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception. These disturbances can be sudden or gradual, temporary or chronic.
Depersonalization Disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of depersonalization or derealization. DPD is more common in people who have experienced emotional abuse, physical abuse, attachment problems, traumatic events and disasters. However, these experiences are do not account for 100% of the triggers.
Some refer to DPD as Alice-in-Wonderland syndrome, although this term is mostly associated with physical symptoms like migraine and fatigue, rather than the emotional symptoms.
A person with Depersonalization Disorder is aware that the experience is a feeling and there is no real disconnect from reality nor is there behavior on automatic. The person has the same abilities as they did prior to the episode(s), but the feelings make it more difficult and take away the desire or motivation to live life fully.
A large portion of psychiatrists, psychologists, and medical doctors do not know about this condition. Sufferers often seek medical treatment only to find out that the physician knows nothing about the condition.
Depersonalization Disorder is also seen as an Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorder because of the obsessive monitoring of symptoms, the preoccupation with what the symptoms mean, and compulsive checking, testing, running for reassurance, etc.
One of the things that will exasperate the feelings of depersonalization is a compulsion of being hyper-aware and distressed about the feelings. The sufferer will often perform checking rituals to see if the feelings are still present. The ritual is comparable to the checking rituals of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Pure Obsessional mental checking.
Often people with Depersonalization have difficulty describing their symptoms and may fear that they will be labeled 'crazy.'
Sometimes anxiety, worry, or panic will trigger the feelings. Other times, a setting or situation will be the trigger. Traumatic experiences and heavy stress are also highly associated with depersonalization. It is also not uncommon for deep introspection, meditation, or philosophizing to bring on the symptoms.
Many people with depersonalization issues spend too much time on certain existential or philosophical thoughts. If anxiety is involved with these thoughts, and mental rituals to combat the anxiety, it crosses over into the OCD world:
Existential / Philosophical OCD – Spending excessive amounts of time contemplating existence, awareness, or one’s mortality.
Example Thoughts of Existential OCD:
Less impactful thoughts:
Depersonalization and Derealization episodes often occur with other disorders such as panic disorder, OCD, depression, and schizophrenia.
It is not uncommon for depersonalization or derealization to occur after using certain drugs like marijuana, Ecstasy, magic mushrooms, acid, DMT, 2C-B, Ketamine, etc.
For some people, alcohol helps them forget about DPD. For others, it's a trigger.
Some people find relief from caffeine because it makes them feel more “attached” to reality, although others find that it makes their symptoms worse.
Some people consider depersonalization as a desirable or spiritual state of mind. These people try to induce a reportedly similar state using drugs, hypnosis, or meditation.
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