A strange affliction gripping your mind and soul. You seem lost in the world around you. One moment you were right there traveling in a bus to meet the love of your life. Suddenly, you feel changes occurring around you. The coffee table where you met your love for the first time seems, different.... You do not belong here, as if you are a lost traveler in a strange land. Wait... there are a string of thoughts running through your mind. These thoughts aren't yours, this is an unreal situation. The inner world and outer world both appear unknown. Emotions? They appear so empty, so dead. Or is it a rush of emotions flowing right through your body? Insanity or a dream, this depersonalization disorder is pushing you, and you entire life, over the edge of a deep abysses that has no end.
What is Depersonalization Disorder?
Depersonalization disorder is a period of disconnect or detachment a person has from his/her body and thoughts. It causes one to feel as if they are living a dream and are detached from themselves. This episode of depersonalization episode may last for a few minutes, hours, and in some cases for years. The comorbidity includes obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, major depression. The characteristic sign is that the person is totally aware that he/she is not an automaton. They are aware of the reality that the sensations and feelings experienced by them are not true.
The person experiencing depersonalization suffers from misinterpretation of the thoughts and senses. They often talk about a 'out-of-body' experience. The depersonalization disorder belongs to a group of dissociative disorders. These disorders are mostly mental illnesses that cause a person to suffer from memory disruptions, loss of consciousness or awareness about the surroundings, change in mental perception as well as personality. These disruptions and breakdowns cause interference with the daily functioning, professional, social and personal relationship of the depersonalized individual.
It is very hard to pinpoint the exact cause. It is thought an emotional trauma that may have occurred in childhood may trigger depersonalization. In some cases, severe mental stress, major depressive disorder, hallucinogen ingestion and panic attacks are found to be the common causes. It is very rare to observe depersonalization occur as an individual disorder. People who have been through a traumatic attack, accident or illness; have been found to suffer from this disorder.
The main symptom of depersonalization disorder is alteration of mental perception. The person begins to feel as if they are living in a dream or some kind of a movie. They are under the impression that they are just an observer of their thoughts, their body and themselves. These people have a 'out-of-the-body' experience and form a numb feeling towards the world around them. A sudden sensation grips the mind as if they are not in control of their actions as well as the ability to speak. Some people begin to hallucinate that their body parts have grown abnormally large or shrunk down to a miniature size. Many have a feeling of floating in the air and observing themselves on the ground. These episodes also cause a person to have an emotional disconnect from the people around them. These episodes may last for a few hours, days or months and even years at a time. Thus, causing a lot problems in the professional as well as personal life of that person.
The person experiencing depersonalization is well aware of the fact that he/she is suffering from some kind of mental problem. Thus, it is easier for one to seek psychological help from a mental health professional. There are certain tests conducted by psychologist that helps them diagnose the condition to understand different illnesses. These illnesses include borderline personality disorder or dissociative disorders.
The treatment includes a combination of therapies like psychotherapy and cognitive therapy. Clinical hypnosis also helps in some cases. A group therapy with the family helps the members of the family understand and spot the sings of depersonalization. There are no specific medications for depersonalization treatment. However, medications like antidepressants, antianxiety medications etc. help in overcoming the feelings of depression and anxiety.
Overcoming depersonalization disorder will help control the symptoms that trigger stress and trauma in the person experiencing it. Treatment will help control the underlying problems that trigger a depersonalization episode. One may not be able to prevent the disorder, but can always control the symptoms with treatment. Speak to a mental health professional for more details, when one thinks they are experiencing feelings of dissociation and detachment from the body, thoughts and surroundings.