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Depersonalization Disorder

What is depersonalization?

Depersonalization is a psychological condition where one feels like an outsider in one’s own body or mind. There is an acute sense of dissociation. All faces a transient phase of depersonalization at least once in their lifetimes. But this is considered a disorder when the feeling is persistent. It often interferes with one’s working or performing abilities. It is a disturbing feeling, and one feels like living a dream. The depersonalization psychology works in a strange pattern where one’s limbs might feel bigger or head inside a cotton box. A history of acute stress or trauma can be the cause of such disease. The primary instrument for the cure of this disorder is psychotherapy, although there are medications for chronic patients. Depersonalization is often comorbid with depression or anxiety. 

Depersonalization Vs. Derealization

Both depersonalization and derealization disorders are considered a type of post-traumatic stress disorder. A few minute differences between the two make them two different subsets of the same set. Depersonalization creates a sense of dissociation with oneself and one’s identity. One ideally feels like a robot, and it seems like someone else is controlling the movements and actions. On the other-hand, derealization dissociates one from his/her surroundings. Patients feel like there is a veil or layer of fog separating them from their surroundings. Things and people around may appear blurry or unclear. Things everywhere seem gloomy, discolored, and artificial. Depersonalization makes one feel like a third person observing himself or herself from a distance. Derealization makes one feel like living in a dream where things and people around him/her seem unreal. 

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Causes of Depersonalization Disorder

Patients suffering from depersonalization/derealization disorder have a similar background or history of events in their lives. The etiology is thus a clearly defined one in the cases of these disorders. The disorders can be a manifestation of the following causes:

mental abuse

  • Emotional abuse or neglect in the childhood years of a person. This is among the most common causes.
  • Being a victim of physical abuse or getting an exposure in such abusive environment for a very long period.
  • Further, it might cause after being a witness of domestic abuse during one’s childhood or adolescence.
  • Having a parent who has a significant psychological problem or mental illness
  • The sudden and unexpected death of a family member or close friend. 


A patient might suffer recurring events that dissociate themselves from them as well as from the surrounding. This kind of situations causes great distress. It often leads to delusion and depression, urging one into self-destruction. To avoid the same, psychotherapy is an effective solution. In the case of severity, medicines are also prescribed in regular doses. 

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Aurora Chowdhury
Aurora Chowdhury is a Business Psychology Graduate from Kingston University, London. She has expertise in domains like Business Psychology, Management, Strategic Management, and Business Strategy. She has a growth mindset and strongly believes in perseverance. She regularly writes for various websites and also conducts counselling sessions.

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