What is Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder?

Depersonalization disorder is a type of mental disorder which involves triggering the mind with repetitive thoughts that are depersonalized and / or derealization. It was combined with derealization disorder and was renamed as the Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder.

Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder appears significantly when a person tends to have recurring feelings that he or she is observing their own body from the outside world. Apart from this, there might also be an associated feeling which will let them think that the world in unreal. The feelings that are associated with such people often seem quite depressing and may even feel delusional.

What is Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

People experience derealization or depersonalization at some or the other point in their life. When the feelings never seem to fade or go away, it might be considered as a Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder. This is commonly associated with people who were under a traumatic attack or in any kind of stressful event.

The interference of this disorder may be ghastly and can affect the social as well as personal relationships of a person. Psychotherapy and medication can be used as a treatment for soothing the symptoms and relieving a person from the stress.

Causes of Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

The primary cause of Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder is not yet determined. Many have estimated that this is linked with the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters and can make a brain susceptible to such symptoms. This may heighten the states of fear and stress, which may eventually lead to various disorders. The Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder symptoms may be due to:

  • Growing under a traumatic situation like emotional or verbal abuse and domestic violence as well.
  • Upbringing in an environment where the parents are mentally ill or impaired.
  • Catastrophic death or suicide of any close family or friend.
  • Interpersonal and social stress in a severe manner
  • Indulgence in severe traumatic situations like car accidents

Signs and Symptoms of Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

Recurrent chapters of derealization and/or depersonalization can interfere with normal functioning and lead to distress as well. When these episodes are attacking your mind, you will understand that they are delusional and are unreal. The feeling and the experiences that a person undergoes when struck with this disorder are pretty difficult to describe. You might also not be able to judge between the real and the delusional world as well as keep on checking frequently to keep a track of time.

Depersonalization Signs

  • Feelings that you are observing yourself through the world's eyes and are floating in the air at all times
  • Losing control over the speech and movements, which might make you, feel like a robot.
  • You might get a feeling of suffocation and your limbs may feel distorted. You might also feel heavy headed.
  • Be in a constant state of numbness in the mind that might keep you deprived from the social situations
  • Might have a feeling of being emotion-less without any attachment to the real world.

Derealization Signs

  • You might have a feeling like you are living a reel world and you might be struck with the feelings of alienation.
  • Emotional disconnection from the world and all the people around you.
  • Surroundings may seem blurry, colorless and artificial. You might also struggle to get a clarity in your emotions and behavior.
  • Alterations in keeping a sync with time
  • Have a distortion about size, image as well as object.

The episodes that are caused due to the disorder may last for a long time or even for a few hours. Some people may develop such derealization or depersonalization feelings that may worsen or get better with time. These feelings are not caused by alcohol abuse or any other medications.

Risk Factors for Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

The risk of developing the depersonalization/derealization disorder can be more if:

  • Your individuality compels you to deny the situations that are difficult and may not allow you to adapt to such situations as well.
  • You have been a part of any traumatic or stressful event.
  • You are in your early or late teenage or adulthood as well. This disorder is rarely observed in children and adults.

Even if you are not suffering from this disorder, feelings of depersonalization and/or derealization may be activated in your mind by:

  • Suffering from mental health issues like anxiety or depression
  • Consuming substances like marijuana and other medications
  • Subjected to various medical and physical conditions like seizures or an injury to the head.

Tests to Diagnose Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

The criteria for the disorder should be compliant with the manual, which is guided by the American Psychiatric Association. It is only after that a person can be diagnosed with such disorders. This guide is referred by various health providers in speculating the associated situations and by various insurance companies as well. DMS-5 has the following descriptions:

  • Depersonalization: You might experience a delusional feeling and a sense of detachment from the thought process. You may also feel like a spectator that is constantly keeping an eye on the actions, sensations and the thought process.
  • Derealization: Your experiences may be delusional and render a feeling of detachment from the surrounding environment.

In Order To Be Diagnosed With Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder:

  • A person should have recurrent or persistent experiences that are related to derealization, depersonalization or a combination of both.
  • During such episodes, you might feel like living in a dream.
  • The symptoms may cause a major distress and obstruct your personal and social life as well.
  • Panic disorder or schizophrenia may not give rise to such disorders.
  • The symptoms might not be caused by the effects of drugs, medical condition or alcohol as well.

Certain evaluation tests might be needed to identify the symptoms that do not relate to the disorders and are caused due to alcohol or substance abuse.

Treatment for Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

People who are looking for ways to treat Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder might be concerned about soothing the symptoms like anxiety and depression, rather than the complete illness. In some cases, the feelings may fade away gradually. Treatment may only be required if the feeling stays longer and are persistent. The primary goal that is involved with the treatment may be to address all the stress that gives rise to Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder. The best approach varies from person to person and after deciding how severe the symptoms are in an individual. Based on it, the following methods may be used:

  • General Psychotherapy: This therapy involved the use of various techniques that will soothe the mind and give you an insight to the problem.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: The therapy can be used to treat the distorted thoughts and other mental issues.
  • Medications: Specific medications are not available for treating the disorder, however, a person suffering from anxiety or depression may be asked to consume some drugs that will get rid of the problem permanently. Antipsychotic medications might be used for treating the delusional state of mind to some extent.
  • Family therapy: In this therapy, the family members are educated about the disorder and help them in recognizing the associated symptoms.
  • Creative therapies such as Music therapy, Art Therapy: This treatment allows the person to express the thoughts in a creative and safer way.
  • Clinical hypnosis is a combination of concentration, deep relaxation and attention gaining therapies that will help a person to stay focused at all times. This often helps a person in connecting to the subconscious mind and develops a sense of understanding.

Recovery from Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

Many patients possibly recover from the Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder completely. The symptoms eventually fade away when the proper treatments are sought at the right time. However, when you do not take necessary treatments and precautions, the episodes might start triggering eventually.

Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder in Children

An imbalance in the self-perception is caused when the Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder affects children. They may feel like a spectator and isolated from their inner self as well. They may also feel that the body is in a delusional state and is changing constantly. This is a basic characteristic that is associated with the Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder in Children.

Prevention of Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

Some physicians think that the Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder cannot be detected in the early stages and many show up for treatment in their late teenage. Various preventive strategies may be used for determining those kids that are affected by the Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder. Hopefully, a research that is related to the neurobiological conditions may be used for developing treatment procedures for preventing the Depersonalization/ Derealization Disorder.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 5, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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