Everyone has been in a depersonalized state whether they realized what it was or not, but when someone is constantly or recurrently feeling as if they’re watching themselves in a movie, it becomes depersonalization disorder. Depersonalization disorder is a dissociative disorder that is characterized by a sense of detachment from yourself, others, and reality in general. Much like all other dissociative disorders, it is a disruption of a person’s waking consciousness.
Though the direct cause of depersonalization remains unknown, some researchers believe that it may be linked to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. A recent study by Mount Sinai School of Medicine showed that there is a reduced metabolic rate in an individual experiencing depersonalization in Brodmann’s areas 21 (the middle temporal gyrus) and 22 (the superior temporal gyrus) compared to a healthy brain. These parts of the brain are responsible for general things like processing sounds and distances, ...view middle of the document...
Various cases have also proven that it can be caused by post-concussion syndrome and other traumatic brain injuries. The wide range of symptoms include the sense that you’re just observing your thoughts and actions, dullness of your responses and senses, and consciousness that your symptoms are only feelings and not reality. Other symptoms are the feeling that your body or parts of your body are distorted, feeling like you’re watching yourself or floating above yourself, and feeling emotionally disconnected.
To be diagnosed with depersonalization disorder, the following criteria must be met:
• The feeling of estrangement from yourself, recurrently or constantly
• You know that your depersonalization is not reality
• It causes significant impairment in daily functioning
• It is not caused by direct physical effects of a drug or substance
When someone firsts starts to look for treatment, they may begin with their usual clinician, where they should be given references to neurologists or psychiatrists. Treatment for this disorder involves psychological therapy to help make an understanding of why you may have developed this disorder, and how you can train yourself to make the symptoms disappear. Counseling may also help with any underlying condition like anxiety and depression. The therapy may teach techniques that will help you to deplete the sense of depersonalization, including dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Some psychologists believe that medications for depression and anxiety help with the overall treatment of the disorder. Some medications that have been shown to help are fluoxetine, clomipramine, and clonazepam.
Of all the adults in the US, about 50% of them have experienced one or two episodes of depersonalization as a result anxiety and stress, with less than 200,000 developing the disorder, females being twice as likely to diagnose it. 1/3 of people dealing with trauma or life threatening illnesses and 40% of psychiatric cases report experiences of depersonalization. Your risk of developing depersonalization disorder increases if you have anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, panic disorder, or dissociative identity disorder. Your risk also increases if you’ve witnessed or personally been involved in a traumatic event.