Hailey + Megan
Dissociative disorders are mental illnesses that involve the disconnection between memory, identity, emotion, perception, behavior and sense of self. Under dissociative disorders, there are Dissociative Identity Disorder, Dissociative Amnesia, as well as Derealization-depersonalization Disorder. Around 1%-2% of all people have derealization/depersonalization disorder, however, about 50% of people have felt some form of depersonalisation or derealisation at some point in their lives.
Derealisation, Depersonalisation and Derealisation-Depersonalisation Disorder
Depersonalization is a type of detachment from oneself and one's identity, as if you’re an outside observer of your own life.
Derealization is when things or people around seem completely unreal, as if you’re an outsider, feeling detached from your own surroundings.
These experiences of depersonalisation or derealisation are classified as a disorder when they are not caused by drugs or other mental illnesses, as well as when the symptoms make it hard for a person to go through their daily lives.
Experience of Depersonalization
Feeling like an outsider, observing your own thoughts and feelings
Feeling like you are moving your body parts or seeing them move as an outside observer
Feeling like what you say or do is outside of your control
Feeling as if your memories may not be your own
Feeling like you are a robot or as if you are in a dream
Experience of Derealization
Feeling like you are being alienated from your surroundings
Feeling as if you are living in a dream or in a fictional world
Feeling as if you are in a fog and cloudy place
The world appears to be fake and lifeless
Objects and sounds become distorted
Feeling as if time goes by in different paces
Feeling as if you’re separated from the rest of the world
Symptoms of Depersonalisation-Derealisation Disorder
Feeling numb emotionally and mentally
Amnesia that cannot be attributed to mental disorders and/or brain damage
Possible causes and risk factors
The disorder is usually caused by episodes of severe stress, especially during childhood like abuse, neglect, trauma. It can be inflicted on them or witnessed by them but done to others, as well as natural disasters. Furthermore, it can also be an underlying condition or if a person has another mental illness (e.g. depression, OCD, PTSD). It can also be a symptom of the other condition. Lastly, it can be caused by recreational drugs such as ketamine, a drug specifically taken to have a depersonalisation experience, often described as an “out-of-body” experience. Alcohol and cannabis are also other drugs that could trigger depersonalisation
There is no cure for depersonalization-derealization disorder. But there are treatments that help reduce the symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy: to learn and identify patterns or unhelpful behavior and to relieve symptoms of psychological problems to improve patients’ quality of life
Psychodynamic therapy: to bring up self-awareness and self-reflection and to focus on patients’ psychological roots of emotional sufferings
Grounding techniques: to connect the person more into the world and the present moment through focusing on sensing through the five senses.
Anti-anxiety drugs and/or antidepressants are prescribed to some that have underlying mental health conditions
Reduces depression/anxiety symptoms and in extension reduces depersonalisation/derealisation
In 2013, doctors were found to have used a combination of Lamictal, a medication typically prescribed for Bipolar Disorder, as well as a type of SSRI.
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Researcher: Hailey and Megan