Depersonalization and derealization: when we disconnect from reality

Depersonalization and derealization: when we disconnect from reality

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Have you ever had the feeling of leaving your own body and observing what you are doing from another plane? Or that, despite being surrounded by familiar people and in a familiar place, suddenly everything is strange to you and you perceive it as if you were in a movie? These two sensations are the calls depersonalization Y derealization, which we will talk about in this article.


  • 1 What are depersonalization and derealization?
  • 2 Causes of depersonalization-derealization disorder
  • 3 Depersonalization symptoms
  • 4 Symptoms of derealization
  • 5 Depersonalization-derealization disorder treatment

What are depersonalization and derealization?

Depersonalization and derealization they are dissociative experiences in which the person feels totally disconnected from reality.

The depersonalization It occurs when we have the feeling of being separated from our body, observing ourselves from a distance and feeling as if we were robots that are acting away from our will. It is a feeling of lack of control of our actions.

"It feels as if you are witnessing your own life behind a glass, as if no one saw or heard you, although you can see and hear everything very clear, even clearer than normal. You see how your body moves and you hear your voice speak, but you have no control over what you are saying or doing, and then you keep hitting that glass waiting for someone to realize that you are not really inside the body"Kira H explains, a patient who experiences the feeling of depersonalization.

The derealization, on the other hand, is a feeling of unreality in which the person feels that what surrounds him seems unreal, strange or fictitious, as if we suddenly do not know where and with whom we are, even though we are surrounded by a context and familiar people.

These feelings can happen to all of us at specific moments in our lives, but when both symptoms occur continuously, we talk of depersonalization-derealization disorder, a dissociative disorder that interferes with our quality of life.

Causes of depersonalization-derealization disorder

The causes of these sensations are not understood exactly, although some theories suggest that they are defense mechanisms that appear during situations of stress or anxiety and that manage to move us away from the situations that cause them.

These experiences are often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, as well as strong states of anxiety or depression, although the symptoms can also be caused by the use of certain medications, poor sleep quality or physical ailments

Normally, these sensations appear in childhood or adolescence, although they can begin sooner or later. This disorder affects women and men equally and its incidence rate in the population is, according to some sources, 2.4%.

Depersonalization symptoms

  • Feel like an automaton or robot that does not control its actions
  • Note that we are outside observers of our lives and that we visualize our actions from another plane
  • Feeling of distortion of our own self, both physically and psychologically
  • Disconnection of our memories and emotions, as well as our actions
  • Maintenance of the sense of reality

Symptoms of derealization

  • Feel that we perceive reality as if it were a movie
  • Moment disconnection that we are living, as well as the persons that we have around that, although they are known, they are not familiar to us
  • Deterioration of temporal sense: We notice how situations we are living in the moment seem to belong to a remote past.
  • Feeling that everything around us is uncertain and blurry
  • Believe that we are "going crazy"

Depersonalization-derealization disorder treatment

The most common treatment is usually cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as pharmacological treatments with antidepressants or anxiolytics. Being a disorder that normally occurs from the hand of other psychological problems It can be difficult to treat this disorder specifically and its treatment is usually integrated with that of these conditions.

Some simple tips can be beneficial to keep in mind when we live these sensations: for example, when we feel derealization, it is good to practice some actions, such as touching something very cold or hot or pinching ourselves to get back to reality; in the case of feeling depersonalizationBreathing slowly can make blood flow better to the brain, relaxing the nervous system altered by a high state of anxiety. If we are talking to someone, it is good to explain what we feel and ask them to continue communicating with us to keep our attention and our connection to reality. If you experience these sensations on a frequent basis, do not hesitate to consult a health professional.


Poerio GL, Kellett S and Totterdell P. Follow-up of the dissociation-enhancing states: an intensive clinical case study on sleep, daydreaming and depersonalization / derealization. The frontiers of psychology. 2016; 7: 1231. Published on the Internet on August 17, 2016; doi: 10.3389 / fpsyg. 2016.01231.

Brand BL, Classen CC, McNary SW, Zaveri P. A review of studies of treatment of dissociative disorders. The diary of nervous and mental diseases. September 2009; 197 (9): 646-654.

Simeon D: Depersonalization / Derealization Disorder. In Gabbard treatments of psychiatric disorders. 5th edition. Edited by Gabbard GO. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing Inc .; 2014: 459-469.