Depersonalization and Derealization are experienced by up to 70 percent of the population at some point in their lives. Many people will experience brief episodes of detachment when confronted with something traumatic such as a car accident, or a frightening situation. Often times, the symptoms come and go so quickly, people think nothing of them. The body "depersonalizes" during those time as a safety mechanism. When the frightening, or traumatic situation is over, the depersonalizing quickly disappears.
Depersonalization and Derealization become disorders when they become intrusive and begin to interfere with daily functions. In their chronic forms these disorders can be a very debilitating, long and arduous struggle.
The "official" medical diagnosis for Depersonalization Disorder (taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV),
Published by the
American Psychiatric Association, in 2004), is as follows:
Diagnostic Criteria for Depersonalization Disorder:
A. Persistent or recurrent experiences of feeling detached from, and as if one is an outside observer of, one's mental processes or body (e.g., feeling like one is in a dream).
B. During the depersonalization experience, reality testing remains intact.
C. The depersonalization causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D. The depersonalization experience does not occur exclusively during the course of another mental disorder, such as Schizophrenia, Panic Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, or another Dissociative Disorder, and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., temporal lobe epilepsy)."
"A change in an individuals self-awareness, such that they feel detached from their own experience with the self, the body, and the mind seeming alien. Terms commonly used to
describe the symptoms & sensations of Depersonalization are: unreal, disembodied, divorced from oneself, apart from everything, unattached, alone, strange, weird, foreign,
unfamiliar, dead, puppet-like, robot-like, having mechanical actions, remote, automated,
a spectator, witnessing ones' own actions as if watching a film or television program, not
doing ones own thinking, observing the flow of ideas in the mind as independent."
"A change in an individuals experience of the environment, where the world around him/her feels unreal and unfamiliar. Terms commonly used to describe the symptoms an sensations of Derealization are: spaciness, like looking through a grey veil, a sensory fog, spaced-out, being trapped in a glass bell jar, in a goldfish bowl, behind glass, withdrawn, feeling cut-off and distant from immediate surroundings, like being a spectator at some strange and meaningless game, objects appear diminished in size- flat, dream-like, cartoon like, artificial, objects appear to be un-solid, as if I'm in a coke bottle viewing the world through the thick bottom."
"BOTH of these conditions are directly caused by and are symptoms of ANXIETY. They are caused by changes which occur in the way nerve signals are processed by the brain
during anxiety disorders."