May 24, 2010
**PLEASE IGNORE ANY GRAMMAR MISTAKES THERE WAS A PROBLEM WHEN I PASTED THE TEXT**
The feeling of depersonlisation is due to a shift in brain chemistry, and is due to anxiety/worry etc.
Stress or fear produce a change in your brain chemistry ? an increase of adrenaline and decrease of dopamine - and this feeling of depersonalistion and derealisation is a result. You are not going insane and this will rebalance itself. What makes it persist is that usually a person does not know what it is and so worries/creates more stress this creates a self-perpetuating cycle. Normally, the safe feeling in the chest after a shock will reverse the change in brain chemistry , lowering adrenaline and raising dopamine, but when you are worrying about the DP, you cannot feel safe.
DP can occur as a result of a trauma. In this case, as well as the above, the brain is taking time out to rest itself ? you have no control over this the more you try , the more tired your brain gets and it can't feel the safe feeling it needs. By worrying/stressing you are sending signals to the brain that something is wrong - hence it will protect itself even more and so the cycle continues.
If you let it get the rest it needs and just carry on your every day life as best you can, then eventually the safe feeling will return and you will recover. But only if you give yourself a chance to and stop trying to force recovery.
When manifesting as part of another disorder such as anxiety, depression etc, the symptom may never occur again after the person recovers from the primary disorder.
People that have experienced DP as a result of a bad drug trip or experience have NOT caused long term damage the mechanism is exactly the same, your brain is protecting itself, hiding away to get the rest it needs whether this be from the fear a bad experience causes or from the long term drain the drug use has on your body.
For some people, there seems to be no trauma, no drug-inducement, no nothing that caused the DP. They may have been just walking along the street one day, when the condition suddenly hit them. The fact that there seemed to be no cause whatsoever can make the condition all the more frightening; it's as if something has gone wrong in the person?s brain for absolutely no reason at all.
But things are not always what they seem. There are a HUGE number of elements that, when combined, can cause a person to experience an episode of DP. For example, your work might be a little stressful. You might be drinking some caffeine and soft drinks etc. You might not be sleeping as well as you should.
You might have small some problems in your personal relationships. You might be suffering from a common ailment like post-natal depression, mid-life crisis, exam stress etc.
And of course, all of these things on their own can seem like they can be coped with on a day-to-day basis. But these various stresses combined over time can cause the body and mind to react in very strange ways.
You might have reduced serotonin due to stress (even if you don't feel that stressed, modern life is pretty stressful in itself) as Tommygunz has theorized - in this case the supplements he has listed will help that re balance but you also need to train yourself out of the over thinking and ruminating habit and try to live day by day as normally and routinely as possible.
For most people, the DP dissipates naturally when they are out of the traumatic situation but this is not always the case. You can become aware of the feeling of being ?outside yourself? that DP causes and say, Hey why am I feeling like this??
That unease creates more anxiety and fear (which is now actually focused on the feeling of DP/yourself/the environment simply because there is no visible threat to aim itself at ), with the result that the DP is not able to ebb away as your brain chemistry returns to normal. It turns into a cycle of more DP and more fear generating the thought habit that becomes the actual condition.
Thus there are a variety of causes, but what is common to each case is that the person at some point focuses on the DP, and tries to understand why they are having these feelings.
The excess fear/worry has nothing to focus on; there is nothing specific to be worried about, so the fear is projected onto anything and everything
This also makes the fear self-perpetuating; there is no threat, so you assume that something is wrong with your mind.
This in turn generates more fear still with no threat around
If certain things (thoughts, environmental factors etc) can affect this, then it must be possible to get out of it altogether by establishing precise habits that do not allow it to persist distraction and not trying to do anything about it.
Most of us react to the initial feeling of DP by trying to fight against it. But if you think about it, the idea of fighting against one's own natural defence mechanisms is pointless.
By fighting against it, you are making the anxiety worse, and prolonging the DP that is trying to stop that very anxiety/protect the brain against it and give it a chance to recover.
Depersonalisation is simply your mind's way of reacting to an event that's been too traumatic to deal with up front or of dealing with too much stress/chemical imbalance.
When you go through an experience that?s very difficult, your mind says, Right - this is too much for me. I'm staying out of this one! - it pulls back from reality, because it seems too scary. Once again, that's why DP so often seems as if there's a pane of glass between the sufferer and the rest of the world it's not because of any permanent change, any distancing it's simply because your mind is trying to stay away from anything dangerous and has created a temporary screen to keep that stuff out.
Say someone gets mugged and stays in for a few days to build up their confidence again. this is exactly what the mind does with DP it says im staying in the house for a while until I get my confidence back up. Of course, getting your confidence back up takes a lot of effort. But it must be done. Otherwise, that man who got mugged can end up staying in the house for much longer than he should, afraid of going out again.
And here's the most important part: It's up to you to get your confidence back up. You must learn to calm your mind down and coax it out of its fear, out from behind that invisible barrier.
NOT worry it more/tire it more so it wants to stay in even longer! Leave it alone to rest in its own time. But don't let it hide away at the same time?
SLEEP is the safest place your mind knows this is why you may want to sleep all the time when first ill
To find safety, the mind accesses the comfortable state of sleeping - but does so while you are awake. So part of the sleeping state is temporarily shifted into the waking state. That's another reason why DP constantly feels like a mental grogginess, and why concentration becomes difficult your mind is in that place where you're just about to drift off to sleep, though your body is fully awake. It's also why DP is always worse after a nap the mind is much closer to the sleep-state.
So, in order to deal with a scary waking reality, the mind pulls the warm blanket of the sleep-state over itself and waits until it?s ready to come out again. The mind?s proximity to the sleep-state explains further many of the difficult existential / philosophical thoughts that DP generates.
You can find yourself asking questions like, Why am I here? Why am I me?? etc, constantly questioning your own reality: Because of the mind being so close to the sleep-state all the time, life can actually feel like a dream.
And what happens at the end of a dream? You wake up. The dream reality disappears, and normal reality resumes. So one reason for the constant nasty existential thoughts of DP is because you keep expecting reality to somehow stop ? because all your previous dream experience tells you that it should! And of course, that's a scary thought.
But that's all it is just a thought.
One thing you absolutely have to remember with DP is that reality never changes. It will never stop, it will never fall apart none of those horrible thoughts will ever actually take place. Those thoughts are nonsense. All that has changed is your minds ability to deal with everyday life but it's a perfectly natural and understandable reaction to a trauma, and it's only temporary.
You know that feeling when you are half-asleep in front of the TV or the radio, The sound can seem a bit louder than usual. Sometimes specific words can set off a strange train of thought.
It's usually a nice, cosy feeling being set adrift on the river of the mind! But with DP,
you can have those long trains of thoughts even when you're fully awake. The anxiety and fear of being in this state tends to generate fearful, rather than happy or creative thoughts.
It can get very scary at times, yes, but just remember that its nothing more than a slightly different level of awareness ? one that everyone around the world experiences every day . All that is happening is that the DP has temporarily pushed the sleeping level of awareness into waking life in order to protect you from some perceived danger.
The following is true: People who have recovered from DP almost always say, What on Earth was I worried about?? Because nothing really changes at all with the condition it's just the way you look at it!
In fact, DP is very much an example of a condition that features what psychologists call state-specific learning, and refers to any type of experience that is difficult to remember emotionally (dreams etc). That means that what you feel when you have DP - all the fear, anxiety etc - is very difficult to recall once you get out of it.
For example, I can describe DP to someone in vivid detail, but I cannot remember the feelings of it in the same way that I can remember, say for example, the sadness I felt when I finished college and said goodbye to my classmates. I know that this may sound unbelievable right now, but I guarantee that when you recover completely from DP, you will find it very difficult to even remember these emotions that seem so important at the moment. Much like you cannot remember a dream sometimes, even moments after waking.
People with DP are usually the sensitive, intelligent and reflective type. This is not entirely surprising, since it is introspection and contemplation of temporary feelings that
create the condition in the first place. In my experience, this has actually been a very positive thing, since all of the people I have contacted in researching the condition have always been open, intelligent and optimistic, even in the face of what is often terrible fear.
Ok, so we?re looking at DP as a habit of thought. Now let's compare it to another habit: smoking. If you're a smoker, how do you deal with cravings after you quit? Sure, you can use nicotine patches, gum etc but the bottom line is about having the will power to get past it. But you can certainly help your will power out by distracting yourself from the craving, by ignoring and trying to forget the habit.
For example, a very common tip for smokers is, keep your hands busy. If you play an
instrument, go practice it. If you like to knit, go knit. Go look at some interesting websites for a while.
The exact same idea works with DP.
But because it is a habit of thought, getting out of it is more difficult than simply not
picking up that cigarette. The pink elephant principle applies here - if you think, right, I'm not going to think about DP, the chances are that you won't able to stop! And with DP, that tends to happen over and over again. The harder you try to not think about it, to forget about it - the more you do think about it and the more ingrained the habit becomes. That's why the condition can be so frustrating: it's very much up to the individual to take action but the action taken by the individual often makes the condition worse.
But the bottom line is this: you must train your mind to not think about DP. That doesn't mean you will learn to stop thinking about it, or get rid of the thought but just to think
about something else. And the best way of doing this is to keep your mind constantly occupied. Keep your hands busy! If you play an instrument, go practice. If you
don't play an instrument, start learning one. If you like to knit, go knit. Go surf the web for a while. Always keep busy. And remember: Every time you are busy, you are absolutely working towards something your own recovery. So don't worry about doing even the most frivolous thing. Enjoy it. But stay busy all the time.
It's all about for now, accepting that you are not 100%, you feel strange because your brain is tired out from all the worrying and ruminating and just giving it a chance to rest and recover by living as normally as you can manage and NOT trying to do anything about the strange feelings/giving them any attention.
It's also better to stay busy with activities that involve your mental input more than others. For example, reading or writing can be better than watching TV, since it's easier to drift away into your own thoughts while doing the latter (That said, though, television can also be the source of a good, positive routine, when it is something that absorbs you like a good drama etc). Learning an instrument or a craft is also a good example since it absolutely requires your full attention.
You should also remember that, as with any affliction, laughter is an absolutely wonderful medicine for DP
Talk to as many people as you can. Remember that in spite of any anxiety you may feel, that each and every time you go into town, shopping, meeting friends etc is another bit of progress!
Go out and have fun with your friends. If you stay in all the time, that will become a habit and one that probably won't help.
All DP/anxiety can ever do is make things seem more amplified, more threatening. But reality itself doesn't change. Even if you wanted it to, it couldn't change! All that's
happening is that your mind is scared and jumpy at the moment, and seeing danger everywhere (even in the normal philosophical thoughts that everyone has from time to time).
I know it can be tough, but just remember that this state is temporary and entirely reversible.
One feeling that these thought processes can generate is the idea that reality has somehow changed. You may come to some very strange conclusions about the nature of the condition: for a while, I entertained the nonsensical thought that was in some sort of purgatory?, that I had somehow lost my soul?. You may think that something dreadful is going to happen, like reality falling apart?. Another common thought is that you are somehow going to disappear altogether.
These things have not happened, and will not happen. I have been to the absolute depths of this illness, and I have come out it completely unharmed. There is absolutely no permanent mental damage, there is absolutely no permanent physical damage. Hundreds of thousands of people have had this condition
before you, and none of them not a single one ever managed to change reality! It's all based on irrational fears created by nonsensical trains of thought.
You have not changed in any fundamental way. The world has not changed in any
fundamental way. You are suffering from an ailment that yes, can be very scary at times, but is relatively very mild. It is not even close to the risks associated with most other conditions. I think that may be one of the reasons it's not recognized as much as it
should be; because as scary as it can get, it is a non-progressive condition and, believe it or not, is simply not that dangerous for the sufferer.
Don't ever fight with DP mentally. Take it from me: Fighting it, like fighting with any type of pain, will only make it worse. DP is like the schoolyard bully who calls people names: If
you respond to his taunts with anger or sadness, he knows that he can hurt you and so it will keep happening, day in, day out. But if you simply accept him no matter how
difficult that may be, and how persistent the bully may be it will eventually stop.
Some people who wear visual aids like glasses and contacts have noted that the stress of DP can be reduced by removing them for a while. I
wear contacts myself, and found that removing them did in fact produce a calming effect. Why is this? Because by blurring your vision, you are reducing the amount of information that is being received by your visual cortex. This goes to show, yet again, that DP is to a large extent dependent on your environment and how you experience/interact with it. It simply proves, yet again that DP is not a mental condition that is somehow beyond your control.
With DP, it can seem very tempting to stay in bed all day, not shower etc every day, to just let yourself go a bit.
And sick people are somehow allowed to stay in bed, to not shower regularly, not dress properly etc. I know that I used that excuse for many weeks after I initially developed DP.
However, that's a very negative way of thinking and it will only make the DP worse. In a sense, doing that is actually drawing your focus onto the DP, since you are physically allowing it to affect your life. It's basically the same thing as letting yourself sit for hours watching boring TV it might seem like the easier thing to do, but in fact it promotes exactly the kind of introspection that DP thrives on and in the long run it will only make things worse.
So, though it might seem easier to not to jump into the shower every day, go for it anyway. You'll look, and more importantly feel much better when you're clean and it'll give you a
solid routine to look forward to every day. Personally, I found that a good time to take a shower or bath is right before going to bed. It calms you down nicely and makes your body
tired and prepared for rest.
Take good care of your appearance in general. Look as good as you can every day! Wear clothes that are comfortable and that look well on you, especially you're going out. Eventually
this outward confidence will soak into your mind and you will start to feel better too.
As I've said, one of the many ways to get out of anxiety is to train your concentration. And a great way of doing this is by focusing on bettering yourself physically. It gives you goals, and something very worthwhile to work at every day.
You absolutely must cut caffeine out of your diet. It will aggravate anxiety and DP. Plus, they also tend to disrupt sleep patterns, which as we know are directly related to DP.
Firstly, it increases heart pressure something you absolutely don't need when trying to get rid of anxiety. Secondly, salt depletes potassium in the body, an essential element for a properly-functioning nervous system.
Everyone loves chocolate and sweets. I'm a big fan myself. However, these again are bad for
anxiety and DP. As they are digested, they cause a drop in blood-sugar levels, which can set off anxiety and mood swings. Stay away from sweet foods!
By cutting them out of your diet, you are cleansing your body and brain, and helping to bring them back to their best. In fact, by the
time you recover from DP, your general health should be better than ever. Look at anxiety and
DP as your body?s way of telling you that it needs to be rid of all these impurities.
The carbon dioxide in soda water is actually very good for you, since anxious people tend to have low levels of it in their blood. It is good for preventing hyperventilation and also helps the blood flow in general.
In general, fruit and vegetables are very good for diminishing anxiety and DP. Eat plenty of spinach, carrots, onions, beetroot, celery, wholegrain cereals, asparagus, avocado, garlic,
eggs, fish etc. Drink plenty of water every day; keeping your body hydrated is essential for overall health.
Vitamin B6 and 12 are very important for the maintenance of a healthy nervous system, which, I don?t have to tell you, is essential for control of anxiety and DP. They are needed for the maintenance of myelin,the fatty substance that protects the nerves, and are generally good for dealing with fatigue. Vitamin B deficiencies can be caused by a number of factors, primarily stress and anxiety. This, in turn, can cause increased anxiety, loss of appetite and insomnia ? all of which can make DP worse.
Remember to be patient with it ? if you have developed a deficiency, it can take time to build your Vitamin B levels back up.
Calcium ? nerve health
Magnesium supplements are good for the heart, for the blood flow, and can help prevent anxiety and stress. Magnesium can also help to relieve insomnia and depression.
Take a good Omega-3 supplement every day.
Also, you should take a good multivitamin supplement every day.
If your DP has come on because of taking drugs, you may feel quite guilty; Remember: It's not your fault!
It's nobody's fault. Often, the drug may have been a catalyst the metaphorical straw that broke the camel's back. It'BBs quite possible that the stresses in
your life were building up anyway, and that you were about to suffer a panic attack, depression or DP (if you had not had one already). The drug simply sped up that
But regardless of whether or not the drug alone brought on the DP or whether it just hurried up the manifestation of the stresses that were already happening, the end situation
is the same. It is reversible, so don't worry!
And whatever you do, don't feel guilty about anything. DP is a natural reaction. It is not something that can be anybody's fault,
anymore than getting, for example, a bad dose of hay fever is anybody's fault. Your body simply reacted to stresses in a natural way, it and it is now up to you to train it back to
Look at it this way: This is your body's way of telling you that you need to better handle stress in the future, and also to stay away from any substances that may aggravate it. All you
need to do is heed this advice, make the necessary changes in your lifestyle, and soon you'll be back to normal.
So don?t think of this as a mistake, or someone's fault. It's a great lesson to learn, it will enrich your life, so just be happy about it! Also, remember that no matter what the cause of the DP, the condition is essentially the same. There is no difference in marijuana-induced DP and DP caused by general stress levels ? and so, getting out of it will be the
same. And if you have a therapist, don't be afraid to tell them what you think brought on the DP, even if it was illegal drugs. Getting the causes of the condition off your chest will be hugely beneficial to your recovery.
It isn't a great idea to drink with DP - although it may temporarily relieve it, the repercussions are generally worse.
But remember this: If alcohol can temporarily alleviate DP, then that tells us yet again that
DP is a temporary state a combination of a transitory imbalance of brain chemicals and thought-habits - and can be changed. The
practices that you are implementing into your life are all contributing towards making that change ? and making it permanently.
Some people have suffered from DP for a long time ; indeed it can affect some people for years at a time. This does not mean that people are affected with different types of
DP that stay longer than others; it simply means that you have not found the correct thought-habits to get out of it. The thing is that it's way to easy to deal with DP by logging
onto the websites every day, to read every book you can about the disorder, to go to every doctor in your area (who usually know nothing about the condition).
It is not easy, however, to simply try and forget about it and get on with your life. The thing with DP, as with any other type of obsessive
thought, is that there is absolutely no point in trying to suppress it, analyze it or get rid of it.
As I have already noted, telling yourself "Today, I am not going to think about DP" is the same
as saying "Today, I will not think about pink elephants". By acknowledging that you don't want to think about the condition, you are already creating an association that will bother you for the whole day.
The fact that so many people can and do get out of DP on a regular basis (as many posts on website forums prove) means that in theory, anyone can get out of DP. Of course, it may take longer for others and it may take more intensive effort on a day-to-day basis, but the more effort that one puts into getting out of these thought-habits, the faster they will see results.
You might think, well, even if I recover, won't I be likely to just go back in to DP if I have another traumatic experience or stressful period??
Well, if you recover properly, the simple answer to this question is: No.
Like I've said, DP is a habit of thought. What you are doing now is building up a resistance to that habit; replacing that negative habit with healthy habits.
Let's take, for example, the following situation: Let's say you were a smoker for ten years. And then one day, you just realized that it was bad for you.
So you quit. You didn't quit cold turkey, but you phased it out over a couple of months. Eventually, you completely stopped associating
cigarettes with your coffee break at work, with your glass of wine in the evening. You learned to stop wanting a cigarette every time you saw
someone else smoke one on the street. It took time and effort, but you replaced the smoking habit of thought with a non-smoking habit of thought, with positive thoughts.
And then, for argument's sake, let's just say that if, a decade after that, that you're at a party, and an old friend offers you a cigarette. You think, why not?? and you smoke it.
Now - does that mean that you're back to square one, hooked all over again? Of course not. The positive habits you've built up in the meantime are what count. Even if you get a cigarette craving the next day, that's ok because you know how to deal with it. You have the experience to deal with it. You have dealt with it long enough to know that you can get past it.
And it?s the same with DP. After you get through it, you will have completely trained yourself back into a positive habit of thought.
And if something especially stressful happens to you in the future, and if you happen to experience the transitory DP that almost everyone does in such situations, you will recognize it, know why you are feeling it, and be able to let it go.
Also remember: The DP won't stop overnight.
There is no miracle cure for the condition, just as there is no miracle cure for any truly bad
habit. - because it is A NATURAL DEFENSE/HEALING MECHANISM - much like you could not 'cure' a scab that forms over a wound - it simply drops off when the wound is healed.
Getting out of it is a progressive de-habitualisation, like learning to stop smoking,or learning to be more positive in general. You have to think of your recuperation in terms of
months, not days. And even at that, it is still quite difficult at times. As with the removal of any habit,you will find that it will return, temporarily, at the
most inopportune times. You see, recovery from DP is not a straight line from habit to non-habit. It is more like a jagged downhill mountain slope: at times, you will have to
climb tough little peaks, other times, you will find yourself trotting happily down an easypath. It varies from hour to hour, day to day. Just remember that no matter how tough
those little peaks get, they are still part of a definite movement towards recovery.
You see, the thing about DP is that because of its habitual nature, it can be very difficult to judge when you are getting better. For example, you might have two good days in a
row. On the third day, for whatever reason, you feel anxious and feel the depersonalisation strongly. Now, if you'd had that day in the
middle of a week-long bout of DP, it would just seem like another bad day.
In fact, it might not even feel that bad just another day in which you have had to cope with DP. But when you are back in it after a few days of respite, it can seem much worse. Most of that is attributable not to the intensity of the DP itself, but to the disappointment felt when you
think that your escape route has been closed off.
So when you have a bad day (and let?s be honest about it, you will almost certainly have many days that are quite difficult), try not to think, Oh
no, Im back to square one. Just tell yourself: am not back to square one. My DP only seems worse because I am getting better in general. I have been making improvements and that tells me that one day soon I can completely recover from this condition. If I feel
bad in the meantime I am happy to simply wait until I feel better.