Depersonalization disorder(Depersonalization-Derealization syndrome)
Individuals who persistently experience feelings of detachment, either bodily or cognitively, from themselves or from their environment.
Often chronic and distressing condition that causes the sufferer to feel that they are detached from themselves, their feelings or their reality, in an almost robotic sense.
Depersonalization - as if they are viewing their lives from the outside.
Derealization - feeling detached from one’s surroundings and other people, who may appear as if part of a dream.
Two per cent of the population and affect women and men equally.
Onset of the condition is usually at around 16 years of age.
Symptoms of depersonalization disorder :
An individual suffering from depersonalization may experience:
• Detachment from emotions
• Distorted body image
• Difficulty recognizing their own reflection
• Loss of sensation in parts of the body
• Feeling unreal or like a spectator in their own lives
Sufferers of derealization may experience:
• Feeling detached from their surroundings
• Feeling that general life events are unreal
• Perceiving objects as changing in shape, size or color
• Feeling that people they know are strangers
• Feeling that environments they know are unfamiliar
Causes of depersonalization disorder
• Episodes of severe stress, depression and panic
• Misuse of drugs like marijuana and hallucinogens
Onset of depersonalization disorder is also associated with childhood trauma, in particular emotional abuse or neglect.
Experiencing a severe accident, being subjected to an assault or suffering emotional abuse, for example, can invoke this psyche-protective response.
Co-occurring conditions :
• Avoidant personality disorder
• Borderline personality disorder
• Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Sufferers of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic disorder may also experience symptoms of dissociation.
Other conditions which can present with mimicking symptoms :
• Bipolar disorder
• Drug or alcohol misuse
• Coming off medication
Treatment of depersonalization disorder:
Psychotherapy and medication are the most common treatment options for depersonalization disorder, either in isolation or combined.