March 17, 2011

Symptoms, Treatment & Cures for Depersonalization Disorder

Posted in Category : General Health

Depersonalization disorder is a psychiatric disorder and falls into the classification of dissociative disorders. A dissociative disorder is one in which a person disconnects from themselves. They can disassociate themselves from their own feelings, thoughts, memories, and even their identity.

There are four types of dissociative disorders of which depersonalization disorder is one where the person detaches himself or herself from anything personal. They feel detached from their own thoughts and feelings and they tend to go through life without any attachment to anything.

Depersonalization disorders should not be confused with psychosis where the person is not able to distinguish reality from fantasy. A person suffering from depersonalization disorder knows fully well what reality is, although they are not able to engage with life the way normal people do.


Listing out the symptoms is very difficult here because there are no clinical signs as such for this condition. The person seems to have a certain “unreality in one’s sense of self” is the way medical journals describe this condition. This feeling of unreality can manifest in many ways from feeling a disconnect between one’s own feelings and being detached from them to a feeling that they are not occupying their own bodies fully. Their recognition of themselves also breaks down, which is where the disorder gets its name from.

People with this disorder have a feeling that life is passing them by and that they are not involved in it in any way, similar to normal people watching a movie where they may have certain emotional reactions, but they are really not engaged in the movie. Many of them also feel that they are going crazy or that they have some form of brain damage. They feel that they are losing control of their lives but are not able to do anything about it because they are emotionally detached from people that they do care about.

All these symptoms are very vague, but it is difficult to specify exactly what the symptoms are simply because the underlying detachment from life can manifest in very many different ways.


Only a trained psychiatrist can diagnose depersonalization disorder, and it may take more than one visit before they are able to diagnose the illness completely. Psychiatrists generally use two methods to diagnose the disorder, one is the disassociative experience scale and the other is the structured clinical interview.

Dissociative disorders have not received much importance until recently, and therefore there is not much options when it comes to treatment. There are a few medications that have shown to be effective, but their long-term effects are really not known.

Many of the normal psychosomatic medications are ineffective in this disorder, and more research is needed before anything can be said either way.


Since depersonalization disorder is a mental disorder, there is no information on any cure. There are cases where a person has shown remarkable recovery, while in others, there has been very little to none. Psychologists feel that these disorders are caused by repeated trauma in childhood. This trauma can be mental, physical, or sexual. The repeated trauma causes a certain disconnect from reality that the person is not able to break through at a later date. The severity of the disorder depends to a large extent on the severity of the trauma. In mild cases, people are able to recover very well, but severe cases need specialized treatment.

Depersonalization disorder is a problem simply because of the anxiety that it causes in people. There are cases where a person can have depersonalization disorder but not display any anxiety at all, and many people are of the opinion that meditation can result in a very similar state of the mind. In fact, Buddhist teachings talk about ‘Anatta’, which refers to the ‘illusion of the self’, which seems to be remarkably close to depersonalization disorder. The only difference being that in meditation, there is no anxiety.