What Is Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder (DPDR)?

What Is Depersonalization

Introduction to DPDR

Depersonalization/derealization disorder is also known as depersonalization/derealization syndrome which is a type of mental health issue that causes a recurring or persistent feeling of being outside of the body (depersonalization) or a sense of some unreal happening around you (derealization), or both.

To put it in a nutshell, DPDR is a consistent feeling of not being inside your body or a consistent feeling of something happening unreal around you. This blog covers an overview of depersonalization/derealization disorder (DPDR).

List of Contents

  • Introduction to DPDR
  • Symptoms of DPDR
  • Causes of DPDR
  • Types of DPDR
  • Treatment of DPDR

Symptoms of DPDR

DPDR has two aspects however considered being a single diagnosis. Below are some signs and symptoms of DPDR.

1. Depersonalization

Depersonalization means the feeling of detachment from yourself. People experiencing depersonalization tend to believe that they are watching their life from the sidelines or like a movie screen which includes:

  • Physically numb
  • Alexithymia or unable to describe or recognize emotions
  • Unable to control movement or speech
  • Feeling robotic
  • Feeling detached from the body, feelings, sensations, or mind
  • Unable to attach memories to the emotions
  • The feeling of distortion in limbs and body (shrunken or swollen)
  • Feeling like the head is being wrapped in a cotton

2. Derealization

Derealization means feeling detached from the surroundings or environment and people or objects present in it. The world seems to be unreal or distorted. People experiencing derealization tends to believe that they are observing their life through a veil.

It feels like a wall of glass is separating you from the person you care about the most. This feeling can create dissociation which results in distortions and other signs like:

  • Distortion of distance placed objects or shapes
  • Heightened awareness of surroundings
  • Recent events feel like past
  • Surroundings seem blurry, two-dimensional, larger-than-reality, cartoonish, or colorless

Fact Check: Episodes of DPDR can last for hours to months. For some people, it can become a chronic situation. DPDR periodically gets into the worst condition if not properly diagnosed or treated on time.

If you or your loved one is experiencing something related to it, consider the help of a certified mental health provider ASAP. To connect with a mental health provider click here.

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Causes of DPDR

Research shows that DPDR is more highly observed in females than men. Common triggers for DPDR are anxiety, severe stress, and depression. Less sleep or overstimulating surroundings can also make the condition worse. Therefore, getting professional help is important in such instances.

Common causes or risk factors of DPDR are:

  • Neglect in childhood
  • Emotional or physical abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • History of drug use
  • Deny or avoid difficult situations
  • Trouble in adapting to difficult situations
  • Anxiety or depression along with panic attacks
  • Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event in childhood or adulthood
  • Severe stress from relationship, finances, or work

Types of DPDR

DPDR is part of dissociative disorders. These disorders are related to consciousness, memories, or sense of identity. As per DSM-5, other dissociative conditions are:

1. Dissociative Amnesia

Dissociative Amnesia is a condition wherein the person is unable to remember important information about his\her life.

2. Dissociative Fugue

Dissociative Fugue is a type of reversed amnesia wherein a person is involved with other memories, personality, and personal identity.

3. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Dissociative identity disorder is a condition that is related to the presence of two or more different personalities in one individual.

Treatment of DPDR

For some instances, recovery is performed organically without any formal treatment. Meanwhile, some of the severe cases take years to recover from DPDR. Below are some of the common and effective treatment types used for DPDR:

1. Psychotherapy

The most effective type of treatment used for DPDR is psychotherapy. Like, CBT teaches people how to remove negative feelings and replaces them with positive thoughts. CBT also works on the obsessive thinking and distraction techniques that are:

A. Grounding techniques

Grounding techniques help people to feel the reality. The therapist engages the client with loud music or something like that which makes the person feel more connected with the sensation and reality.

B. Psychodynamic techniques

Psychodynamic techniques focus on working on negative feelings and conflicts that lead to detachment. It helps in tracking the moment-to-moment progression and helps in labeling the dissociation and effect.

2. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was created for treating PTSD. However, it is now widely used to treat various types of mental health conditions like dissociative disorders including DPDR.

I hope this blog helps you to understand an overview of depersonalization/derealization disorder (DPDR). For more such content, follow Calm Sage on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading.

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