Depersonalization Disorder- Information, Treatment & Prevention

By: Juliet Cohen

Depersonalization disorder is a dissociative disorder to which many folk can pertain. Depersonalization disorder is sometimes called "depersonalization neurosis. " Occasional moments of depersonalization are natural, but relentless or repeated feelings are not. Brief periods of depersonalization are notably caused by stress, a lack of sleep, or a combination. Depersonalization disorder is often associated as a comorbid disorder of anxiety disorders, panic disorders, clinical depression, and bipolar disorder. Some of the more common factors that exacerbate dissociative symptoms are negative affects, stress, subjective threatening social interaction, and unfamiliar environments. Factors that tend to diminish symptoms are comforting interpersonal interactions, intense physical or emotional stimulation, and relaxation. An episode of depersonalization disorder can be as brief as a few seconds or continue for several years.

Depersonalization becomes a disorder when the dissociation interferes with the cultural and occupational functions needed to mundane life. Often a victim of depersonalization disorder feels as if he or she is going crazy, though this is nearly never the lawsuit. Depersonalization disorder has been associated with childhood interpersonal trauma. Emotional abuse is a significant predictor of depersonalization disorder and depersonalization symptoms. The most common immediate precipitants of the disorder are severe stress, depression and panic, high grade marijuana and hallucinogen ingestion. Depersonalization can result in very high anxiety levels, which further increase these perceptions. Depersonalization disorder is not directly caused by a general medical condition or by substance use, including medications and drugs of abuse.

The heart symptom of depersonalization disorder is the personal experience of unreality. Anxiety can aggravate depersonalization symptoms. The symptoms include a sense of mechanization, feeling a disconnection from one's system, and trouble relating oneself to world. In addition, depersonalization disorder can cause anxiety since the person feels abnormal and uneasy at the loss of their sense of self. These experiences may cause a person to feel uneasy or anxious since they strike at the core of a person's identity. Depersonalization is the third most common psychological experience, after feelings of anxiety and feelings of depression, and often occurs after life threatening experiences, such as accidents, assault, or serious illness or injury. These symptoms can interfere with a person's general functioning, including social and work activities, and relationships.

The diagnosis of Depersonalization disorder can be made with the use of various interviews and scales. Treatment is dependent on the underlying cause. To date, no treatment recommendations or guidelines for depersonalization disorder have been established. Treatment usually is needed only when the disorder is lasting or recurrent, or if the symptoms are particularly distressing to the person. A variety of psychotherapeutic techniques has been used to treat depersonalization disorder. Clinical pharmacotherapy research continues to explore a number of possible options. Treatment of chronic depersonalization is considered in depersonalization disorder. Relaxation techniques have been reported to be a beneficial adjunctive treatment for persons diagnosed with depersonalization disorder, particularly for those who are worried about their sanity.

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