What Triggers Depersonalization?

Reviewed on 2/24/2021
Depersonalization often means detachment from self and a hazy sense of unreality
Depersonalization often means detachment from self and a hazy sense of unreality

Depersonalization often means detachment from self and a hazy sense of unreality. It can cause severe anxiety in a person.

Severe stress often triggers depersonalization disorder. Some of the triggering factors are:

  • Being physically or sexually abused
  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Caring for a severely impaired or mentally ill parent
  • The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one
  • Emotional abuse or neglect during childhood
  • War
  • Accidents
  • Disaster
  • Extreme violence

Other factors that may trigger depersonalization disorder include:

Temporary feelings of depersonalization are common and are caused by:

What is depersonalization disorder?

Depersonalization disorder is a psychological condition where

  • A person feels disconnected from their thoughts, feelings, and body (depersonalization).
  • A person may feel disconnected from their surrounding (derealization) as well.

Basically, people with this condition do not completely lose touch with reality. They are aware of the unreal perceptions that they have. Depersonalization feelings are considered a disorder when

  • Depersonalization or derealization occurs without any underlying mental condition or drug abuse. It persists or recurs.
  • The symptoms are disturbing to the person or constantly interfere with their work or daily tasks.

Depersonalization disorder affects 2% of the population, including men and women. The disorder may begin during early or middle childhood.

What are the symptoms of depersonalization disorder?

Depersonalization disorder has two distinct aspects that may or may not apply to a person. The primary symptom of depersonalization disorder is distorted perception of the body. The symptoms include:

  • Disconnection from thoughts, feelings, and body
  • Alexithymia (an inability to recognize or describe emotions)
  • The feeling of being senseless or numb to sensations
  • Robot-like feeling or unable to control speech or movement
  • Failure to connect emotions to memories, where a person may also fail to own their memories as experiences that happened to them
  • The sense that the person’s body and limbs are disfigured (swollen or shrunken)
  • The feeling that the person’s head is covered in cotton
  • The feeling of depression, anxiety, and panic, or the person may feel like going crazy

Derealization symptoms may include:

  • Disconnection from the surroundings or environment
  • Feelings of living in a dream world or being alienated from the surroundings
  • Feelings of being emotionally disconnected from loved ones, as if there’s a glass wall that separates them
  • Surroundings that look distorted, blurry, colorless, two-dimensional, or artificial
  • Distortions in the perception of time, for example, recent events may feel like distant past
  • Distortions of distance and the size and shape of objects
  • The symptoms may be acute or chronic. Chronic symptoms may last for years and cause disability.

What are the complications of depersonalization disorder?

Depersonalization disorder can be frightening or disabling. It can lead to

  • Struggle in concentrating on tasks or remembering things.
  • Anxiety or depression.
  • A sense of hopelessness.
  • Interference with work and other routine activities.
  • Difficulties in maintaining relationships with your family and friends.

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References
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9791-depersonalizationderealization-disorder#management-and-treatment

https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/mental-health-disorders/dissociative-disorders/depersonalization-derealization-disorder

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depersonalization-derealization-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352911

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