Are you wondering if you suffer from depersonalization or derealization? Well, this article can help you understand whether or not you experience DP/DR.
Not a week goes by without a few people emailing me and asking me how they can be sure that they are going through depersonalization and derealization disorder (DP/DR). I hope to clear that confusion in this article.
Short on time?
Don’t want to read the entire article but wondering if you have depersonalization or derealization?
The problem with DP/DR is that there’s not a lot of awareness in the medical community about it, even though it’s experienced by a lot of people in the world.
Before we proceed, let’s try to define depersonalization (DP) and derealization (DR) in simple terms:
Depersonalization is a dissociative disorder characterized by an alteration in the perception of one’s sense of self.
Derealization is a dissociative disorder characterized by an alteration in the perception of one’s environment.
If you’re still confused by these terms, follow this link to find out more about the differences between depersonalization and derealization. Usually, if you have DP, you may also experience DR to some degree, and vice versa.
There are many people who try marijuana and experience a panic attack from it. From then on, it may seem as if they’re cut off from reality. The way they experience reality and their sense of self seems to have changed. The marijuana is not responsible for the DP/DR itself, but rather the panic attack from the DP/DR was so traumatic that the person dissociated following it. But there are thousands of people who have never done any drugs but still experience DP/DR from stress and trauma. DP/DR is an illness that can have many different causes.
You may notice some of the strange symptoms of DP/DR. When you experience a few of its confusing symptoms, you may suddenly think that your mental health is in danger. You may frantically try to search the internet about these symptoms. One of those pages that you may have landed on might have had the term depersonalization and derealization disorder. And now it’s something you can’t seem to get out of your head. You really want to know whether you suffer from this disorder or not.
Even after reading a lot about this disorder, a few of us can’t be really sure if this is what we’re suffering from. If you’re one such person who is confused about whether you have DP/DR or not, then this article is for you.
So why is it so hard to tell if you’re suffering from DP/DR or not? With any other medical ailment, you’d be able to go to a doctor or a mental health professional and they’d be able to diagnose you with the correct illness. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with DP/DR.
It’s a pity that even trained medical professionals have not heard of this illness. Most of the time, the problem will get misdiagnosed as anxiety, depression, or even as something psychotic in nature. Such misdiagnoses hurt the sufferer. They get prescribed the wrong kind of medicine, and they wonder why they still feel this way even after having been on the prescribed medicine for a long time.
Before you continue with this article, I would like to point out that I’m not a medical doctor, so this won’t be an official diagnosis. I am someone who is well aware of DP/DR since I went through it for many years and was able to successfully recover from it. I also have an online course that helps people fully recover from depersonalization and derealization. Many people take this course and correspond with me over email. I’m writing this article after combining all of the knowledge that I’ve gained from such correspondence and also from my own experience.
So, without further ado, let’s delve in.
These Are the Telltale Symptoms
DP/DR at first seems like a mysterious, scary, and confusing illness. It can be hard to put into words how this illness makes you feel. But there are some symptoms that the majority of the DP/DR sufferers experience.
Let’s do this simple exercise to help you figure out whether or not you may or may not be experiencing DP/DR.
Take out a sheet of paper, or open up the calculator app on your mobile phone. Let’s start by looking at some of the most common symptoms of DP/DR.
- Detachment from self, feeling as though one is watching a movie about oneself.
- A sense that one is not in control of one’s thoughts and actions.
- Reality may seem dreamlike or unreal.
- Emotional numbness, unable to feel joy or love.
- Feeling disconnected from friends and family.
- Distorted sense of time.
- Disconnection from memories and the past.
- Prone to many fearful thoughts like, “Am I going crazy?”
- Excessively concerned with existential questions like, “Why am I here? How do I exist? Is existence real or is it a dream?”
- Wondering, “Am I dead and in some kind of purgatorial world?”
- Experiencing somatic symptoms like blunt pressure on the forehead, general dizziness, weightlessness in hands and legs, and tightness in the chest.
- Blank mind, or experiencing no thoughts or inner monologue.
- Perceptual alterations, like visual snow or a halo around lights, and tinnitus.
Now, go over the above list one by one and ask yourself this question: “On a scale of 1 to 5, how intensely do I feel this particular symptom?”
For your reference, put down 1 if you don’t experience that symptom. If you experience it in a mild to medium way, then put down 2 or 3, respectively. Use a score of 4 or 5 if you experience that symptom intensely or severely, respectively.
Now move on to the next question and do the same. Don’t think too hard, just write down a number that corresponds to the intensity of the symptom on the above list. The higher the number, the more intense you experience the symptom.
After you’ve gone through all the symptoms on this list, add up the individual scores to get the total score.
If you scored below 15, then you probably don’t suffer from DP/DR. If your score is 15 or above, but below 30, then you may experience episodic DP/DR. If your score is above 30, then you probably suffer from chronic DP/DR.
Whatever the case, don’t be scared. Read on to find out how you can get through this illness.
Change in Behavior Patterns
With depersonalization and derealization, you may start to experience a change in your usual behavior patterns. You may have been someone who was confident and sure of yourself, but now you feel like you’re half the person you used to be.
Even someone who was very outgoing before DP/DR now seems to suffer from some form of social anxiety, that is, feeling uneasy when interacting with other people.
Depersonalization can make you not want to go out; instead, you prefer to stay indoors.
You can’t seem to think straight. Your ability to focus and concentrate also seems to have taken a toll. You feel as if you’re not operating at your full capacity.
In addition to this, you may also experience the following fears:
- Fear of insanity or going crazy.
- Fear of never being normal again. The sufferer may see no light at the end of the tunnel. One can think that it will always be like this.
- Fear of developing schizophrenia or other mental illnesses.
- Constant feeling of doom. Never wanting to leave your safe space, such as your room.
- Generally, with DP/DR, your mind seems riddled with fear and confusion.
If you can relate to the above change in behavioral patterns and types of fear, then that can be a sign of depersonalization and derealization.
You Can Recover From DP/DR
If you believe you are suffering from DP/DR, don’t worry. This is not the end of your world. So many people have recovered from this illness. You just need to understand what this illness is, and how to work your way out of it.
If you’re interested in figuring out how to recover from depersonalization and derealization, then I’d invite you to read the rest of the articles on this blog. These articles will give you a better understanding of this illness. In order to recover from an illness, you first need to have a better understanding of it.
If you’re looking for all the right content in one place, then DP No More can help you with that. It’s an online course that I created, with a step-by-step guide to help you fully recover from this illness. This course contains all the information contained in this blog and a lot of exclusive content like guided meditations and exercises designed to help you recover without unnecessary suffering.
I know how you might be feeling right now. I went through this for many years. Of course, I could have recovered if I had the right information back then. But there’s no need to panic. If you believe you have DP/DR, hang in there. If you practiced what’s outlined here in this blog and in my online DP/DR course, then you can and will eventually reach recovery.
Still not sure?
It can be hard to tell if you’re experiencing depersonalization or derealization, perhaps taking a short quiz can clear your confusion.