About The Disorder
Depersonalization disorder occurs when you persistently or repeatedly
have a sense that things around you are not real, or when you have the
feeling that you are observing yourself from outside your body. Feelings
of depersonalization can be very disturbing and may feel like you are
losing your grip on reality or living in a dream.
Depersonalization disorder is more common in people who've had traumatic experiences. It may be triggered by stress or trauma, and it often
occurs along with other mental health conditions such as anxiety,
depression or schizophrenia. While the exact cause of depersonalization disorder is not well
understood, it appears to be linked to an imbalance of certain brain
Treatments for depersonalization disorder include psychotherapy and medications.
- Psychological counseling. This helps you understand
why depersonalization occurs and trains you to stop worrying about the
symptoms so that they go away. Depersonalization disorder may also
improve when counseling helps with other psychological conditions, such
- Medications. While there are no medications
specifically approved to treat depersonalization disorder, a number of
medications generally used to treat depression and anxiety may help.
Some examples that have been shown to relieve symptoms include
fluoxetine (Prozac), clomipramine (Anafranil) and clonazepam (Klonopin).
Depersonalization disorder symptoms include:
- Continuous or recurring feelings that you're an outside observer of your thoughts, your body or parts of your body
- Numbing of your senses or responses to the world around you
- Feeling like a robot or feeling like you're living in a dream or in a movie
- The sensation that you aren't in control of your actions, including speaking
- Awareness that your sense of detachment is only a feeling, and not reality
Other symptoms can include:
- The sense that your body, legs or arms appear distorted, enlarged or shrunken
- Feeling like you are observing yourself from above, as if you were floating in the air
- Feeling emotionally disconnected from people you care about
When To See A Doctor
Passing feelings of depersonalization are common, and aren't necessarily
a cause for concern. But ongoing or severe feelings of detachment can
be a sign of depersonalization disorder or another physical or mental
health condition. See a doctor if you have feelings of depersonalization
- Are disturbing you or are emotionally disruptive
- Don't go away, or keep coming back
- Interfere with work, relationships or daily activities
You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner.
If a clear diagnosis cannot be made by your family doctor, you may be
referred to a doctor who specializes in brain and nervous system
disorders (neurologist) or a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and
treating mental disorders (psychiatrist).
Your doctor or doctors will want to make sure your symptoms are not
caused by an underlying neurological condition such as epilepsy or
another disorder. Because depersonalization disorder sometimes occurs
along with depression or other psychological disorders, your doctor may
also want to investigate whether you may have one of these conditions as