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Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder

What is Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder?

Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder is a dissociative disorder characterized by subjective recurrent episodes of depersonalization and/or derealization that are having a negative impact on a person’s life and relationships.


Experiencing a disconnection from or a distorted sense of reality.

Symptoms of Derealization:

  • Feeling like you are in a dream or a movie
  • Feelings of detachment from your loved ones
  • Feeling numbed or a lack of emotions
  • Feeling as though things are occurring behind a glass wall
  • Distorted perception of time
  • Distorted or unclear perception of your surroundings or objects in your surroundings


Experiencing a disconnection from or lack of control over yourself.

Depersonalization symptoms

  • Feeling as though your thoughts, feelings, and body are not your own or that you do not have control over them
  • Feeling as though you are outside of your body observing yourself
  • Distorted memories
  • Distorted perception of your body like feeling as though your limbs are swollen or misshapen
  • Feeling emotionally or physically numb

How long do depersonalization or derealization episodes last?

Episodes can last hours, days, or even months, it varies from person to person.

Some people find the dissociative symptoms disappear at the end of the episode while others feel as though they never really go away, they just vary in intensity.

What causes depersonalization-derealization disorder?

While the cause of the depersonalization-derealization disorder is not clearly defined, some known risk factors exist that make people more vulnerable to developing the mental disorder.

  • Traumatic experience or abuse
  • Severe stress
  • Certain personality traits like avoiding difficult situations or having difficulty adapting
  • Family medical history of psychiatric disorders
  • The use of recreational drugs
  • The use of certain medications such as antidepressants or antipsychotics
  • Triggered by another mental health disorder like depression, anxiety, or panic attacks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • History of borderline personality disorder
  • Seizure disorders

25 to 50 percent of cases, however, are the result of relatively minor stresses or cannot be identified.

What is the difference between depersonalization and psychotic disorders?

The main difference is awareness. Patients with depersonalization disorder know that their feelings of detachment are not real. Patients with psychosis believe their feelings are indeed real.

Treatment of depersonalization or derealization

It can be common for people to experience minor episodes of depersonalization or derealization. But when the dissociative experiences become more frequent, more intense, or never fully go away, they can drastically impact mental health conditions.

How therapy can help

Therapy can help alleviate dissociative symptoms by teaching you techniques to make you feel more connected to yourself and your reality.

The coping strategies you will learn can help you manage stress and your emotions to avoid persisting negative feelings or feeling a sense of detachment.

Psychotherapy can also help treat any underlying traumatic experiences or any other risk factor that might be contributing to the symptom severity of the depersonalization-derealization disorder.

You deserve to feel your best so you can experience life to the fullest and seeking help from a mental health professional is the first step.

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