Can medication truly cure depersonalization and derealization disorder? Is there even a medication available to do this? Let’s find out how DP/DR sufferers can recovery with or without medication.
A burning question that’s on every DP/DR sufferers’ mind is whether there exists any medication that can cure depersonalization derealization disorder completely.
Unfortunately, at the moment there is not a single medication that is targeted specifically towards curing DP/DR. Although, many people have found some amount of relief through medication that is used to treat other psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety.
In this article, I’d like to discuss whether medication can really help with depersonalization and derealization and whether it is advisable to rely on them.
Before we proceed, I want to state that I am not a medical doctor nor a licensed psychiatrist, so please take the following information at your own discretion. Be sure to consult a medical professional before making any changes to your medication intake.
Medication Can Help, but Not Completely
As I’ve mentioned above, currently there is no medication that can specifically treat DP/DR illness. When you visit a psychiatrist and explain to him or her about depersonalization/derealization, they are more likely to prescribe you an SSRI or some kind of benzodiazepine.
SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are predominantly used to treat depression and it’s related symptoms. It has also found use in treating unrelated issues such as migraine headaches or premature ejaculation in men.
In some cases, a psychiatrist will recommend taking an SSRI like Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, or Paxil to help treat your DP/DR. In reality, these SSRIs might just treat any underlying depression you may experience or relieve you of some ancillary symptoms. You may find some relief from it but not a complete one.
Similarly, benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, or Ativan can also sometimes help treat anxiety-related symptoms that you may experience along with your DP/DR.
I’ve written in length about these medications that may help you deal with some DP/DR symptoms if you need additional information.
Your Mileage May Vary
On the various forums and groups dedicated to DP/DR, you’ll often find people proclaiming that medication X cured their DP/DR completely, or they used Y to successfully recover.
Then other people may get inspired and try that very same medication only to discover that it does nothing for me. Or to the contrary, it has aggravated their condition and made it worse.
The problem is that not a lot is known about the inner workings of psychiatric medications. The pharmaceutical companies develop these medications mostly based on trial and error. They experiment with different classes of compounds on animals such as rats, observe their behavior and then move on to human trials to see if that class of compound will have a beneficial effect on humans.
The human body and mind are complex, what may work for one person may not necessarily work in the same way for another.
Another concept you should be aware of is the placebo effect. This is when a person feels relief not because of the properties of the medication, but because of their belief that the medication is helping them. In such cases, you could have just given a sugar cube to that patient and told them that it would help them (without telling them it’s a sugar cube). Just the patients’ strong belief in the healing power of a (supposed) medication can sometimes help them feel better.
Should You Rely on Medication?
Now, this is a very personal question. I’m going to present my personal views on this question, but I urge you to think about your specific situation and decide accordingly.
Choosing to treat DP/DR is complicated because none of the current medication treats this illness specifically and directly.
In my opinion, choosing medication for DP/DR is fine, but should only be used when you are feeling debilitated by the illness. As in, if you are unable to perform any household duties or your job without some external help.
If you are completely housebound and not able to find the motivation to do anything or you are crippled with fear, then maybe trying medication is worth a shot.
Even then, one must always try to come off the medication in a few weeks or months. One must have a plan to get off them as soon as one can become functional again.
On the other hand, if you are suffering from DP/DR and it’s NOT completely crippling your life then I’d say try to recover without medication. Here’s why.
Recovering Without Medication
The reason I suggest not using medication unless you are completely debilitated by DP/DR is that medication just treats the symptoms of DP/DR and not the underlying illness.
In my opinion, you get over DP/DR by facing its weird symptoms and unpleasant feelings head-on. You need to be able to face your DP/DR, however unpleasant and scary it may be and train your mind and your nervous system to NOT see it as a threat. In my belief, this is how you get over DP/DR completely.
With medication, it can sometimes make you numb to these feelings. So your mind and nervous system never get a chance to move through them. Even though you may not fully feel them, you will always be afraid of these them in the back of your mind.
Medication can temporarily block you from feeling such symptoms and feelings, but it doesn’t treat or help you completely get rid of your DP/DR. Once you go off meds, you’ll feel these feelings again and start to panic. The meds don’t truly heal anything, they are just not letting you feel these feelings to various degrees.
That actually might be helpful if you are crippled and debilitated by DP/DR but if that’s not the case, then my stance would be to not rely on meds to treat DP/DR.
Here’s What I’d Suggest
Instead, I’d suggest that you practice acceptance as outlined on this website and my DP No More online course. You’ve got the inner strength to face these feelings. Don’t try to get rid of them, that’s not in your hands. They’ll have to leave on their own. Rather, try to face such feelings and be open to them.
Easier said than done, I know, but try this approach before trying any medication.
In addition to acceptance, I’d recommend that you educate yourself about this condition. Learn the science behind depersonalization. Understand the relationship between your nervous system and DP/DR. All of this knowledge will diffuse the fear you may have around this condition. Without this fear, you’ll be more open to facing these feelings and openly experiencing the symptoms. This is the key to a full recovery.
At this moment, if you don’t really know how to get towards full recovery, I’d like you to check out my step-by-step program that will educate you and guide you towards recovery: DP No More, my comprehensive online program for DP/DR recovery.
Personally, I never used any medication to fully recover from DP/DR. From the start, I wanted to recover without the use of any medication. Once I grasped the concept of acceptance and saw how it could truly help me get over DP/DR, I was ready to face these feelings. It was hard in the beginning, and I was scared and confused. Yet, I lingered on. I kept going towards these feelings instead of running away. I credit this attitude more than anything to my successful recovery from depersonalization and derealization.
Image Credits: Vecteezy
Have any treatments like acupuncture been helpful to DP/DR sufferers? I am wondering if it could help chill the hypersensitive nervous system. Or does treatment only involve working with the mind and it’s thoughts?
At one point in my journey I was aware that my nervous system was very sensitive. I asked my Naturopath if there was any supplements or treatments that would help. I think at that time he talked about b vitamins with me. Nothing mind blowing, but has anyone had any luck with supplements?
Swamy G says
I tried acupuncture for anxiety and DP/DR, it did not do anything. My recovery came from acceptance of the symptoms and coming to realization about what was causing all the stress in my life and then making changes in my life to improve it.
I’d say that for me just to realize and become aware of the issues beneath my awareness that was causing the anxiety and dissociation was the turning point (along with practicing acceptance). Once those came to the surface and I was aware of them, the DP/DR and anxiety lessened drastically.
Hi did you take medication and did you have no motivation to get dressed cook and bath?
Swamy G says
No, I did not take any medications. I just pushed through it, putting one step in front of the other.
JM Moreno says
Can severe depersonalization/derealization make you go crazy or lose control of yourself and touch with reality?