How long does depersonalization last? Can depersonalization become permanent? Here is something you need to know about depersonalization (DP) and derealization (DR) timeline.
People often ask me, “How long will my depersonalization last?” It’s either this question or some variant of “Is my depersonalization permanent?”
I just wish I could give them a simple answer. I wish I could tell them something like, “Hi, judging by your symptoms, your DP/DR will last about 2 months,” or “You’ve got about 3 more weeks of this and then you’re free!” But things in the DP/DR world ain’t that clear cut.
My answer to these questions only frustrates the people who ask them, at least in the beginning. I plainly tell them, “Your DP/DR will last as long as it requires and you can’t really control its duration.”
When people hear this, they first get angry or feel hopeless. They think that DP/DR is going to be with them permanently, that it’s going to ruin their lives, day by day. However, this is not what I want to convey.
What I want you to take away from this article is that the duration of DP/DR is not under your direct control. If we worry about things that are NOT under our direct control, then we will be worrying unnecessarily.
You really can’t predict when DP/DR will leave you, just like you really did not expect to be depersonalized in the first place.
But There’s Hope
Even though we can’t really know how long DP/DR is going to last, we can do two things:
- Not let DP/DR interfere with our lives.
- Quicken its departure.
The best possible approach when it comes to dealing with DP/DR is to accept these strange feelings and act as if you don’t really care about it. I know this is easier said than done, but it’s one of the most effective strategies to getting over it.
You see, when you really worry yourself about being depersonalized or think about how long it will take for you to recover, then you are unnecessarily stressing yourself out. This stress is actually what’s keeping your DP/DR going. I’ve written about the connection between stress and DP/DR at length for people who are curious to know.
When you really accept your depersonalization and try to care less about it, and continue living your life normally, then you are actually letting your body and mind get the break that they desperately need.
It’s during such moments of relaxation and not worrying that healing happens.
Instead, if you keep worrying unnecessarily about your condition, or how long it’s going to last (something you’ve no control over), then be prepared to live with DP/DR for a long time.
DP/DR Is Not Permanent
A common myth about DP/DR sufferers is that DP/DR can become permanent and one will not be able to get out of it. In fact, on the surface, the people you encounter on DP forums and groups who have been stuck with this condition for years seem to support this hypothesis.
But if you step back and examine what is really going on, you’ll see the truth for yourself.
People who experience DP/DR for years, let it happen because of a few reasons:
- They haven’t resolved any underlying trauma that is the cause of the DP/DR. Some people might have survived a traumatic accident or childhood abuse and there are still emotions buried deep within them that need to be processed. Processing such raw, powerful emotions in a safe therapeutic environment can lead to cessation of DP/DR feelings.
- People are still fighting their DP/DR day in and day out, which only keeps them in a constant state of stress that fuels their DP/DR. This stress/DPDR feedback cycle can be broken through the practice of acceptance.
- Because of not getting the right help, people can fall into hopelessness, depression, or get extremely demotivated and just put their life on hold. They stop doing the things they used to do, stop seeing friends and family, and just let themselves fall into despair. Such behavior, though maybe ok for a short duration, must not become one’s new mode of living.
On the other hand, if you educate yourself about DP/DR (through this website or my YouTube channel), accept and don’t fight these feelings, work to resolve any underlying imbalances in your life that may be causing this disorder, and then finally, try to lead a normal life (despite the challenges), you can expect to see their DP/DR lessen over time and finally be gone.
Of course, even such people will be subject to setbacks where they may get a break from DP/DR only to have it come back after a few days or weeks. One must understand that these setbacks are common and are actually part of the recovery process. Full recovery happens after going through many such setbacks.
Here’s What You Can Do
At this point, if you are worried about your DP/DR lasting forever, then follow this plan for action:
- Don’t look for the fastest way to recover from depersonalization. Stop worrying about how long DP/DR will last. You don’t have direct control over the duration.
- Instead, work on accepting these symptoms and feelings, even though they may be weird and scary. This will be hard in the beginning, but you’ll get the hang of it soon.
- Identify any stressors or trauma in your life. A good question to ask yourself is: “Other than DP/DR, where else is my life out of balance?” Working with a therapist is also recommended.
- Don’t give up on your life, continue engaging with it in whatever capacity possible. To feel normal again, you’ve got to try to lead a normal life.
Even though we can’t directly control the timeline of our DP/DR, we can make changes in our life that ensure that DP/DR goes away swiftly on its own.
Remember, DP/DR is a protective mechanism. You feel this way because your body and mind may have dissociated to prevent emotional overwhelm. Once it’s no longer needed for your body and mind to stay dissociated, you’ll start to feel integrated again. That’s when you’ll start to see your DP/DR symptoms go away, one by one.
As always, if you need a step by step guide on how to fully recover from DP/DR, then check out DP No More. It’s my flagship DP/DR online recovery program. I wish you the very best in your full recovery!
Credits: Images from Pixabay
I’ve been like this for 6 months meds have made it worse. Anxiety is a state of my existence, my head feels as its caving in, I feel unreal, like I’m in a dream anti Anxiety meds barely take edge off, as I won’t move past 1mg of ativan. Memory is like a dream faded and almost non existent. I feel I’m slowly going into a comatose state. Trying TMS in a few days as its my last hope. I’m depressed, anxious and on a verge of madness. This feeling is unreal, God help me.
I’m in the same boat as you. I took Zoloft for several months and I think it made me feel more numb. It didn’t help at all. I feel completely detached from loved ones, even my young children who I was very close to before. I feel like my real life is a far away dream and I am unable to feel present with memories. I’ve been this way for 8 months now. I do have more grief and sadness now, but it feels like I will never be able to feel like I used to feel about my loved ones and my life, and I grieve daily, as if my life is gone. It’s like being stuck in another dimension. I can look at pictures and just cry because I miss my old life, but I am unable to feel connected. I would love to hear more about your story. Please reply and let me know how you’re doing. email@example.com
Hello Kyriaki,my name is Angeliki and i am from Greece.I can feel you totally.I am in the same condition.I was searching also about TMS.If you see my comment kindly ask you to inform me if you finally tested TMS and if you saw any difference.I truly hope that you feel better and that recovery will come very soon. If you want to communicate with me this is my e mail ampatsioudi at yahoo dot gr
Thank you and wish you all the best
Elpidio Sierra says
you’re not alone.739 days I have been this way and today I just found what this is. and now I understand. for so long I thought it was just me that I was the only one. to everyone who is going through this horrible thing please don’t give up, keep going. because I will the same. as I start my journey to my recovering. much love
Swamy G says
Stop counting the days. You’re only doing yourself a disservice.
Hi i suffer with vestabular migraine im suffering depersonalization with it, will i have depersonalization for ever
Andy Dalton says
Ridiculous reading this considering like most people that come here looking for answers my dp was drug induced (which you fail to mention) drug induced dp is no different than a broken arm. An introduced chemical has harmed your brain and it’s recovering is the only logical explanation, there shouldn’t be a reason your brain fails to heal based on subconscious or stressful thoughts alone. That makes no sense
Swamy G says
What you wrote makes no sense. Try again. Explain your argument lucidly.
Okay. There’s some good info here. But the use of people “letting” it effect them long term is bull. I’ve been at this for 8 years. None of my doctors or therapists knew what it was when I was a teenager – so it wasn’t just “solvable” for me. Not to mention, as with everything there are varying degrees of severity – so acting like your experience is everyone else’s and that you just have to be “stronger” is ridiculous. I’ve fought every day of my life for the past 8 years to be here and it’s still a struggle. I’m not “letting” this happen to me, in fact I’m doing everything I can constantly to not let it consume me. If your dissociation is just a symptom to your other disorders then that is different than it BEING the disorder. All of my mental health disorders came from DPDR. Not the other way around. So treating the trauma “to be cured” is a bit difficult when my trauma IS the disorder.
We aren’t letting this happen, because it ruined my life and I want nothing to do with it. Those with minor symptoms need to not speak for all of us, because I for one have lived in absolute hell. My entire immune system shut down and I caught hundreds of infections and chronic diseases from developing dpdr and that was NOTHING compared to the hell in my mind. Rocking on the floor talking to myself telling myself I’ll come out of it, trying to convince myself I’m okay and not insane. Looking straight through my family and not being able to feel or recognize them even tho I knew who they were supposed to be. I had 8 hours of panic attacks a day for years. It’s so much better now, but not a day goes by that I don’t fight it. I’m not “letting this happen”, I’m doing everything I can to fight it.
Swamy G says
If you’re saying that you have been fighting the DP/DR for so long and it’s still here, then you haven’t really understood what I’m trying to convey. I urge you to check out other articles on this website. A good place to start would be here: https://acoachcalledlife.com/what-is-dpdr/
Your article is straight up insulting to some of us who have had this for years. I’m 29 now, and I’ve been permanently DP/DR since I was about 15-16. For large chunks of my life I don’t let it effect me and don’t really think about it unless it is pointed out or brought up in some context or given me challenges professionally, Yet it is a part of my life and has given me challenges the average person does not have to deal with.
I’ve had no big trauma, I’ve seen therapists and I’ve tried medicine, nothing. I’d like to mention that I’m also diagnosed with Schizotypal disorder and there is a history of psychosis in my family.
So assuming it’s all circumstantially brought on is insulting and goes against the current science as well which places as much importance on genetics as environment when it comes to “Breaks from reality” like this.
There is a good chance there is no underlying problem that I can fix just like the poster above, and this is something I have to learn to live with.
(What if the DP/DR is a response to a worse mental state you brain is protecting you from? How are you supposed to fix that?)
I’ve been struggling to fight dpdr, but that’s what iv’e been doing wrong was trying to fight it and not subside with it. If I look at it like why is this happening to me it makes me feel singled out, but if I take this as a learning experience than that makes it so much more compatible. Thank you so much for this information!
By the way i’m 14 and yes it’s hard to understand but i don’t think we are meant to cause if we were, we would have understood it by now.
Maura Tracy says
I’ve had this since I was at least 12, but I can’t remember not having it. I convinced myself it was normal for so long because everyone I tried to talk to about it, including my therapists, dismissed me. I feel like I’m going crazy because it’s only gotten worse over the past six years. I’m 18 now and I don’t know if it’s even worth it to live like this. When I notice it it makes me even more anxious, but I can’t use my strategies to try and alleviate it if I don’t notice it. All I can think about is all of the good things in my life that I missed out on, how many things I didn’t truly experience. This life is hell.