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Do I have Depersonalization disorder?
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Do I have Depersonalization disorder?

The past 3 months I have felt feelings of unreality and I am wondering whether this is due to depression, drug abuse or a personality disorder.  I recently graduated from college and moved to another country.  Because of certain stresses, I became depressed and lost 10lbs in a month.  While working one day, I felt a sudden sensation of panic brought on by "what if" thoughts.  Ever since this day, I have felt as if I am walking around in a constant haze, as if I had not slept for a long time.  It has been extremely scary and I am worried that it may be "depersonalization disorder"  I recognize my self in the mirror and do not see the world in 2-dimension, but still have a sense of unreality nonetheless.  I also stopped using marijuanna about 5 months ago after 6 yrs of constant use and have also tried E.  Clonazepam is helping a little.  Is this feeling of unreality due to Depression, Anxiety or Depersonalization Disorder and will it go away?  Thank you for your time.
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It sounds very much like mixed anxiety and depression related to the move, the stress, and being away from familiar life patterns and clture.  YOu, in a way, seem to be stuck between REALLY being where you are and missing or wishing you were somewhere else. The solution to your symptoms is making a decision to either be there fully while you are there, or move.

You can use the www. masteringstress.com program to help you come to grips and think through this decision and the other stresses that have been happening.
18 Comments
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Hi there Michael..

I experienced the same sensations as what u are talking about.  I was alone for three years living by myself.. and went quite crazy, as if living in a daze, and not sleeping at all.  Its not a nice feeling.  I think depression and anxiety over long periods brings on this type of head space, at least, that was my experience.  Good luck to you.  I am on paxil now and doing fine.  take care,
Peggy
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Oh Michael..
I also wanted to say... I have had disassociation on and off for a long time now... coupled with anxiety and depression.  I am sure mine comes from childhood abuse and trauma, and trying to "escape" from it in my mind.  I believe it is a completely unconscious reflex that happens.  Anyway, it is worth examining that for yourself.  Goodluck,
Peggy
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It sounds like you are developing anxiety disorder. Disassociation is commonly found with a peak in anxiety. It can happen with or without panic/anxiety. You suddenly feel you don't know where you are, but you do, etc. Very normal.. and as scary as the feelings are, they are harmless. You will <b>not</b> go crazy.

You will need to see a therapist for cognitive therapy. If he/she suggest medication, try Prozac. Avoid Paxil and tranquilizers. There are medications out there that can make you feel worse.. one being the highly addictive Xanax.

If you are unsure and need advice on the medication your doctor prescribes for you, please feel free to post to me and I will explain what the medication can do for you.

You're not alone in this. I know it feels like it right now, but there is help out there for everyone. Years ago, these disorders were so taboo, but they have become so common that people are finally taking them seriously. Don't be afraid to reach out for help.

There are free psychiatrists out there. Call up your county's mental health dept for a listing. If you were unsuccessful, post to me your county and state and I will post you a listing.

Best,

Anai Rhoads
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Michael,

You are probably experiencing the normal culture shock and stress of moving to another country. Watch out for the Klonopin you mentioned. It a is highly addictive Benzo such as Valium, Xanax, Libruim and Ativan. If you miss dosages or try to withdraw cold turkey, you will be in outer space called Delirium Tremens, a life threatening situation, and possible seizures also life threatening.

It took me nearly a year to ajust to moving around the world, even the atmospheric pressure can effect you, example is, it is normally much lower in the Western Pacific and many people coming here to the deep tropics are dizzy and disoriented for months until their bodies ajust to it.

It is good to hear you quit the Marijuana. Try not to take any benzo unless you really need it for severe anxiety disorder.

I have been on Klonopin for about four years 8 mg's a day and after being cut off one time I almost died from DT'S and seizures. It was one of the worst months of my life. The doc finally put me back on it since I was not snapping out of the DT'S even after three weeks and 20 pounds lighter. I was prescribed it for seizures and a severe anxiety disorder.

Chatahan
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Hi Michael,

in these situations we indeed feel hopeless and helpless. That is what panic is about really. I have been suffering from panic attacks since 1997 and boy! I tell you when the first one hit me: right in the middle of a nice French summer vacation day, it came as a complete surprise. Later, of course, I knew that non of it was a surprise, but an effect of all that has been going on in my life. Like you I moved to another country, in fact I've lived in four different countries throughout my life (and it ain't over yet!), and had to leave everything behind. I have been in a four-year relationship that had the word "stress" as a defining factor. All of this stuff and much more must have played a role for the depression, anxiety, stress, breathing problems. Today, however, I know better. I can say that I am no longer afraid, you know why? Because every single time I thought I was dying or going crazy, I came out alive and well. Only...the suffering is something that lingers on and makes life difficult to enjoy. Imagine, while doing something you really want to do, you get panicky and cannot do it any longer! This is demotivating and frustrating in the long run. It also prolongs if not strengthens depression. But you have got to realize that at the end of the day it is a closed circle, one which you must get out of. When you feel low/anxious don't try to pep talk yourself out. Go with the feeling. Try to get yourself to admit and realize to yourself that you may not, indeed, be at your best and feeling great. Believe me, once you consciously realize you are suffering and your suffering is only temporary, since it is your body desperately defending itself against stress, your panic will almost immediately subside. All you gotta do is accept your suffering for what it is, a natural reaction to stress factors. It will go away, once you stop fearing it.
Good luck.
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Another thing, VERY IMPORTANT!!!!
Take the magnifying glass away from yourself. This thing of what you see in the mirror and how you perceive the outside world, is all a part of the chemical recations happening inside your brain, which are exaggerated due to the brain's hyperactivity. Just think, when you're scared because you think danger is staring at you, you become beside yourself. YOu breath changes, your bodily odor changes, your heart starts racing, you can't think clearly an so on. In other words you are no longer yourself....well...anxiety and depression are your body's reaction to their danger, except they pose an unrealistic danger. Sooo it's only natural that you will perceive yourself in a weird way. I had times I stood in front of the mirror and stared at a stranger. At other times I thought I walked in a glass bubble and stared at the world from behind this glass; the greater the imagination, the greater the observation!!! Keep the magnifying glass away from yourself. You don't need to scare yourself even more than you already are.
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I thank you all for the supportive comments.  I feel somewhat better, but still not myself, and still feel as if I am half awake all day.  I am on clonazepam, paxil, and started clomipramine about three weeks ago, all of them are small doses.  The clonazepam seems to be the only one that has any effect on me though.  My doctor told me to externalize my feelings and emotions more and become more socially active.  My feelings of detatchment are probably due to my inability to accept this other culture I am experiencing, and therefore my mind has shut down in an attempt to escape.  Anyhow, thank you again, and good luck to all.
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I have been dealing with something that is very strange to me. I had some of these symptoms about 8 yrs ago when I was in High School where I felt very disorientated & like I was living in a dream world.  It got so bad that when I was in that state I would jump and feel this electric shock go through my body and I would yell for someone to help me.  Somehow this passed and I would feel some panicky times and anxiousness, but about 2 months ago it started again out of the blue and I broke down crying and went to the hospital thinking I was dying.  I felt numb and although I knew I was walking and talking I didn't know how I was doing so.  I am doing better now, but I notice throughout each day I am constantly 2nd guessing my thoughts and actions & I feel like what I am doing at times is not real. I don't really understand what is happening.  I have seen a therapist for the past year and I can't get rid of these feelings.  He has me on Celexa and I don't know what it is doing for me.  I would like to know if others share some of these same feelings and experiences.
Thanks,
Heather
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Hi Michael,
I don't know if you'll ever read this, but I have that too! It seems very frightening. I myself, used to take a lot of heavy recreational drugs, but now I am off. Anyways, I think it might be from having too much time on your hands..kind of your way of distracting yourself from something that's really bothering you. Also, might be from having a chronic high level of anxeity day in and out..so keep looking for help. I'm sure if you keep searching..you'll eventually find what  your'e looking for. These are just my opinions. Good Luck LAURA

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Hey Heather, Everyone,

   This page really amazed me; finally after about 1 1/2 yrs of suffering through this I see that I'm not alone.  I've been going through the same things as you.  Actually it started about six years ago but only lasted for about 2 months.  It scared me to death.  One day I woke up feeling fine, doing the usual things and when I stepped outside I felt like I stepped out of myself.  A (now what I understand to be) panic attack changed everything - it detached me and all i could do is worry.  I thought i was dying or going crazy and couldn't function.  I shut down and quit doing everything i enjoyed doing before.  One day i was simly told to get out, to go do things, and learn to have fun again.  I guess that's what its like - re-learning how to live.  Anyway,  just about a year and a half ago it returned.  Right about the time i was making a big move away from home and when i was stressed about money, friends.  It didn't scare me as bad because i had been through it - or so i thought.  About six months ago i had the worst panic attack of my life.  I also went to the hospital and found out that it was "in my head"  Since then everything has been worse.  I haven't been working much or even going out.  I always feel anxious for the same reasons as you all.  I've been trying to ignore my way out of feeling like this (like i'm watching my life from the outside and that it's not always real).  But that only works temporarily.  I guess I have to FACE THIS like you said and now, just knowing that i'm not the only one makes me feel better.  I hope this all makes sense, since feeling like this is very distracting.  
thanks everyone
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Hey Heather, Everyone,

   This page really amazed me; finally after about 1 1/2 yrs of suffering through this I see that I'm not alone.  I've been going through the same things as you.  Actually it started about six years ago but only lasted for about 2 months.  It scared me to death.  One day I woke up feeling fine, doing the usual things and when I stepped outside I felt like I stepped out of myself.  A (now what I understand to be) panic attack changed everything - it detached me and all i could do is worry.  I thought i was dying or going crazy and couldn't function.  I shut down and quit doing everything i enjoyed doing before.  One day i was simly told to get out, to go do things, and learn to have fun again.  I guess that's what its like - re-learning how to live.  Anyway,  just about a year and a half ago it returned.  Right about the time i was making a big move away from home and when i was stressed about money, friends.  It didn't scare me as bad because i had been through it - or so i thought.  About six months ago i had the worst panic attack of my life.  I also went to the hospital and found out that it was "in my head"  Since then everything has been worse.  I haven't been working much or even going out.  I always feel anxious for the same reasons as you all.  I've been trying to ignore my way out of feeling like this (like i'm watching my life from the outside and that it's not always real).  But that only works temporarily.  I guess I have to FACE THIS like you said and now, just knowing that i'm not the only one makes me feel better.  I hope this all makes sense, since feeling like this is very distracting.  
thanks everyone
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey Heather, Everyone,

   This page really amazed me; finally after about 1 1/2 yrs of suffering through this I see that I'm not alone.  I've been going through the same things as you.  Actually it started about six years ago but only lasted for about 2 months.  It scared me to death.  One day I woke up feeling fine, doing the usual things and when I stepped outside I felt like I stepped out of myself.  A (now what I understand to be) panic attack changed everything - it detached me and all i could do is worry.  I thought i was dying or going crazy and couldn't function.  I shut down and quit doing everything i enjoyed doing before.  One day i was simly told to get out, to go do things, and learn to have fun again.  I guess that's what its like - re-learning how to live.  Anyway,  just about a year and a half ago it returned.  Right about the time i was making a big move away from home and when i was stressed about money, friends.  It didn't scare me as bad because i had been through it - or so i thought.  About six months ago i had the worst panic attack of my life.  I also went to the hospital and found out that it was "in my head"  Since then everything has been worse.  I haven't been working much or even going out.  I always feel anxious for the same reasons as you all.  I've been trying to ignore my way out of feeling like this (like i'm watching my life from the outside and that it's not always real).  But that only works temporarily.  I guess I have to FACE THIS like you said and now, just knowing that i'm not the only one makes me feel better.  I hope this all makes sense, since feeling like this is very distracting.  
thanks everyone
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Hey Heather, Everyone,

   This page really amazed me; finally after about 1 1/2 yrs of suffering through this I see that I'm not alone.  I've been going through the same things as you.  Actually it started about six years ago but only lasted for about 2 months.  It scared me to death.  One day I woke up feeling fine, doing the usual things and when I stepped outside I felt like I stepped out of myself.  A (now what I understand to be) panic attack changed everything - it detached me and all i could do is worry.  I thought i was dying or going crazy and couldn't function.  I shut down and quit doing everything i enjoyed doing before.  One day i was simly told to get out, to go do things, and learn to have fun again.  I guess that's what its like - re-learning how to live.  Anyway,  just about a year and a half ago it returned.  Right about the time i was making a big move away from home and when i was stressed about money, friends.  It didn't scare me as bad because i had been through it - or so i thought.  About six months ago i had the worst panic attack of my life.  I also went to the hospital and found out that it was "in my head"  Since then everything has been worse.  I haven't been working much or even going out.  I always feel anxious for the same reasons as you all.  I've been trying to ignore my way out of feeling like this (like i'm watching my life from the outside and that it's not always real).  But that only works temporarily.  I guess I have to FACE THIS like you said and now, just knowing that i'm not the only one makes me feel better.  I hope this all makes sense, since feeling like this is very distracting.  
thanks everyone
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Avatar_n_tn
the feeling's you have jjust stated are what i've been trying to explain to doctor's everyone for the last few year's i feel as if the excitement has gone i don't know what cause's it helppppppppppppppppp god i get so frustrated which makes it worse.It's true if you go with the flow and except it like hurting your fot it can go, i have recently started up badminton and when playing this my mind is a 100% focused on winning which when we have finished the eve i feel mentally clean, airy, no bloody wool mmmmmmmmmm i come home and my mind feels clear, when i have these symtoms (symptoms) i can't concentrate and focus my mind at all im on venelafaxine 75mg which have helped panic a great deal but feel a different person on them hich im now trying to accept that too :(((((((((((((((( so heather chin up and sa what i say to it"your not gonna beat me come on try harder i'll take what ever" also do you find you have a good week then a bad week on a regular basis i do. i feel detached from loved one's i get bloody irratable too on  my bad week's the strange hing is i know that if i we're to take an illegal drug such as cocaine  it would take my negative tought'ds away and would feel great so there must be some drug out there to stimulate my mind that's what it needs  not calmin down i feel but kicked into gear i feel half asleep please someone reply to my waffled message(sorry about spell error's just trying to type this quickly) chin up to al of you!let's beat it together
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About 6 (ugh!) years ago, I began a difficult course of studies as a college freshman. The move away from home, esp for someone who had jsut experienced some serious family upheaval and other difficult trials, was a tought challenge. My first quarter at college was an exercise in liberated ignorant bliss. (How common is that?)

What I failed to pay attention to was the effects my perception of the plans I had made were having on my studies. My parents had divorced at when I was just 16, and so my later high school years were filled with change and silent bitterness bewteen members of the family. The problem was (as usually is) lack of communication.

Anyhow, back to college. For 5 years I struggled and doubted that my choices were right. I had never even visited the area beforehand either.

I had felt somewhat "unreal" in periods at the time, but it began to manifest in frightening ways. I once hiked up to the hill overlooking campus and journaled about the experience:

"I suddenly felt as if the world was strange.. and I was a stranger in the world. The land below, spread out in pastoral inertness... existed. But it didn't exist."

"It was like watching life through a video camera."

Just a few of the things I wrote. The point of my experience, what I have learned is... Get help. You are not GOING crazy. There's something bothering you that needs to be dealt with. Take care of yourself so you can move one with your life. Don't let the damage go further. Fix it. Move on to loving your life and the people around you that you want  to love.

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my father was killed three years ago when i was 19. i completely lost it. before i was calm, happy, and always rational. now... its been three years and i feel like the person i've become is a temporary  "pod person" put here in my place. living my life for me until i'm ready to resurface. all metaphorical of course. i can distinguish what is reality. but my feelings are foreign my thoughts are strange and i have almost no control over myself anymore. i'm on antidepressants and no longer obsess on negative thoughts like i used to but i feel like, no i know that i am avoiding everything in my life. responsibility, accountability, honesty. i've pushed everyone away and now hide in my coccoon of isolation. i've gained nearly 80 pounds (60 in the last year alone) and i'm only getting worse. i don't know if this is depersonalization or depression or normal? but i feel like i used to be happier at one point. a happier person overall. i've seeked therapy to no avail. i feel like no one can help me. how do i wake up and take my life back. i feel weak psycologically.
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