Depersonalization and Derealization Disorder

Depersonalization and derealization disorder are dissociative disorders where the person’s integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, and perception are affected. lose touch with themselves and reality. Much of our mental life involves automatic, non-conscious processing of some information that is not intentionally stored in the memory and gets out of the individual when they perceive certain sounds or visuals in their environment.

Depersonalization: One’s sense of one’s own self and one’s own reality is temporarily lost.

Derealisation: One’s sense of the reality of the outside world is temporarily lost.

At least once in our lives, we would have experienced dissociation from our lives. The dissociation occurs as a result of severe stress, sleep deprivation, or sensory deprivation. But when the episodes of depersonalization and derealization persist and are recurrently interfering with normal functions, it is known to be depersonalization and derealization.

Symptoms of Depersonalization and Derealization Disorder

  • Presence of persistent or recurrent experiences of depersonalization, derealization, or both.

Depersonalization: experience of unreality, detachment, or being an outside observer; distorted sense of time; an unreal or absent self; emotional and physical numbing.

Derealization: Experience unreality or detachment with respect to surroundings.

  • During the depersonalization or derealization experiences, reality testing remains intact.
  • The symptoms can cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • This disorder is not caused by drug or alcohol use.
  • It is also not associated with other mental disorders, like schizophrenia.

Depersonalization and derealization are two different conditions, but they are combined because research studies suggest that people who have prominent derealization or depersonalization have similar characteristics, causes, and severity of the problems. There is no gender ratio the disorder affects equally the male and female population. The onset of the disorder is around the age of 16, and in some cases, it can develop after the age of 25. The disorder can co-occur with mood disorder, anxiety disorder, avoidant personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and OCPD.

Cause: Depersonalization and Derealization Disorder

The disorder can occur when you, the individual, feel that they are outside of their body and that things around them are not real. The causes of the disorders are:

  • Emotional abuse or neglect during childhood
  • Physical abuse
  • Experiencing or witnessing domestic violence
  • Having a severely impaired or mentally ill parent
  • The unexpected death of a loved one

The symptoms are triggered when the individual is exposed to severe stress and struggles to handle the stress, which makes them lose touch with themselves and reality.


Unfortunately, there is little to no research in the treatment area of dissociative disorders. Generally, individuals with depersonalization and derealization resist treatment. Some researchers think hypnosis techniques could be useful because patients can learn and reassociate with reality and themselves.

Medications like antidepressant, antianxiety, and antipsychotic drugs are also tried which as very modest effect on the individual. In one of the studies, researchers determined that after using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in the temporoparietal junction for 3 weeks, the clients showed a significant reduction in depersonalization and derealization symptoms.

It is important to keep the person in a safe environment and under the supervision of medical and mental health professionals.




Here to help

If you need help, Ananth Jeevan is here.

Call our helpline (+91-9063-Jeevan)+91-9063533826 to talk to our counsellors

Download the AJ App (on Android and AppStore )

For Counselling appointments, use our WhatsApp number

Email Us

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *