Depersonalization – What It Is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments In this article you will get all your doubts about this disease. In addition, about 50% of the general population had at least one transient experience of depersonalization or derealization in life. But only about 2% of people have the criteria for depersonalization / derealization.
The depersonalization or derealization can also occur as a symptom in many other mental disorders, as well as physical disorders such as convulsive disorders (ictal or post-ictal). When it occurs independently of other mental or physical disorders, it is persistent or recurrent, and impairs functioning.
Depersonalization / derealization disorder occurs equally in men and women. The average age at onset is 16 years. The disorder may begin in early or mid-childhood; Only 5% of cases develop after age 25, and the disorder rarely begins after age 40.
Causes of Depersonalization:
A clear cause of depersonalization disorder has not yet been found. The symptoms of depersonalization are probably the result of an imbalance of chemicals known as brain neurotransmitters. Such imbalance of neurotransmitters cause particular vulnerability in the brain to stress .
People with Depersonalization Disorder are often seen having stories that include trauma of some kind, and this includes childhood abuse, a serious accident, or other type of traumatic experience.
The symptoms of depersonalization / derealization disorder are usually episodic and the intensity increases and decreases. Episodes can last for a few hours or days, weeks, months or sometimes years. But in some patients.
Symptoms are constantly present at unchanging intensity for years or decades. Symptoms of depersonalization include feeling disconnected from one’s body, mind, feelings and / or sensations.
Patients feel like an external observer of their lives. Many patients also say they feel unrealistic or like robots or automatons (without control of what they do or say). They may feel emotionally and physically numb and have leveled affection.
Some describe themselves as “undead.” Some patients cannot recognize or describe their emotions (alexithymia). They feel disconnected from their memories and are unable to remember them clearly.
The diagnosis of depersonalization / derealization disorder is clinical based on criteria:
Patients have persistent or recurrent episodes of depersonalization , derealization, or both;
Patients know that their unreal experiences are not real (ie, they have an intact sense of reality);
Symptoms cause significant distress or greatly impair social or occupational functioning.
In addition, symptoms may no longer be better explained by another disorder (eg, seizures, continued drug abuse, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, other dissociative disorder).
MRI and EEG are designed to rule out physical causes, especially if symptoms or progression are atypical (eg, if symptoms begin after age 40). Toxicological urine tests may also be indicated. Psychological tests and interviews and special structured questionnaires are helpful.
Psychotherapy: Treatment of depersonalization / derealization should address all the stresses associated with the onset of the disorder, as well as previous stressors (eg childhood abuse or neglect) that may have predisposed patients to later onset.
Several psychotherapies (eg, psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy ) are successful in some patients. Cognitive techniques can help block obsessive thoughts about the unreal state of being. Behavioral techniques can help patients engage in tasks that distract them.
Grounding techniques use all five senses (eg, play a loud song or hold a piece of ice in your hand) to help patients feel more connected with themselves and the world and feel more real in the moment. .
The therapy psychodynamic helps patients deal with negative feelings, underlying conflicts or experiences that make certain intolerable affections for self and thus are separated. Tracking moment by moment and labeling affection and dissociation in therapy sessions works well for some patients.
Several medications were used, but none clearly demonstrated efficacy. However, some patients are apparently helped by serotonin reuptake inhibitors, lamotrigine, opioid antagonists, anxiolytics and stimulants.
However, these medications may work predominantly by targeting other mental disorders (eg, anxiety , depression ) that are often associated with or precipitated by depersonalization and derealization .