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480448 tn?1426952138

Derealization and Depersonalization...very common anxiety effects...please read

I wanted to start a seperate thread about this...as I have noticed a significant amount of posts regarding these symptoms.  For a person who is experiencing this for the first time...it can be VERY upsetting and disturbing.  I was there before as well...the first time I went through this, I was convinced there was something wrong with my eyes.  Everything just "looked" so weird, so odd.  I almost felt like I was having out of body experiences...or was watching the world through a movie projector, instead of through my own eyes and mind.  Therefore, I am going to share with you all what *I* know about these phenomena, and hopefully reassure some of you that this is par for the anxiety course...it while irritating, maybe even maddening...it is totally harmless.

Derealization and depersonalization are two terms that are sometimes used interchangably.  Truth is, they DO vary a little bit in their presentation....but overall, they also are VERY similar.  ONE important thing to remember that I learned, and have never forgotten is that these two effects CANNOT exist without anxiety.....but that anxiety can exist without these sensations.

Derealization is basically a change, an alteration in the PERCEPTION or experience of the external world....in other words...everything LOOKS very strange, very "unreal" (movie like, in my experiences).  Depersonalization is a subjective experience of unreality of one's self.  So the difference is...rerealization relates more to the external environment...our outside world, whereas depersonalization relates more to our sense of "self"...that "we" don't feel like who we are.

Both of these sensations are caused by a shift/change in the brain.  It occurs in the area of the brain that provides us with a "real" awareness of our environment.  The part of the brain is directly linked to the "Amygdala", which is the organ in the brain responsible for causing anxiety.

Of course, the fact that while having a high level of anxiety, we are SUPER sensitized to every sensation, feeling, symptom....adds to derealization and depersonalization.  Also, you can have one without the other.  Most of MY experiences have been with derealization, and I have a friend who suffered more from depersonalization...she explained it as feeling "numb' and more like an inanimate object than a person.  The great news is..once the anxiety is addressed, these feelings start to gradually fade into the bakground...until one day you realize it is gone.

I hope this helps some people that have experienced this can have a better understanding of this.  I know I felt sooo much better after finding out that I wasn't truly going insane...and that what I was experiencing were very common panic/anxiety symptoms.

I'm going to stick this in my journal as well, in case anyone ever wants to refer to it.
9 Responses
Avatar universal
Could not agree more!  Well said....this so much a part of the anxiety/panic cycle.  Where I think so many people get down about this happening to them is they are under the impression that they are experiencing this alone, when in fact it is very common 'symptom.'  I experienced both of these and it can be very gut wrenching if you don't understand what is happening.  That is why this forum is such a useful tool AND why talk therapy is so very improtant in understanding and confronting this cycle; because one usually learns about this when talking to a therapist, which in turn gives you knowledge, which leads to power to break free.  
513832 tn?1211959364
Good post!!

Everytime I start getting strong anxiety I get the derealization also. My mind wanders and I start to think about if the world is really real or is it just a dream and I think of things like what is the big picture of the world and the point of life. Its very strange and fells video game like.
506490 tn?1213435364
thanks so much for this posting..i've always wanted to learn more about this particular symptom, but most literature i've read on AD just doesn't seem to cover it, or only describe it very briefly.

btw, am still waiting for more of your journal entries..heh..;) talk to you again real soon ya..till then, take care & have a good weekend..
480448 tn?1426952138
Thanks!  Actually...the last few LONG posts, I just c/p-ed into my journals...just so I can point people there if certain topics come up.

I will be writing another journal soon.

I hope others can truly relate to this...it's one of those not-so-commonly discussed anxiety effect...and a lot of times med side effects are often blamed.

Have a good weekend yourself...hope your friend is coming along!!
370181 tn?1428180348
Great thread! These two "experiences" are, in my opinion, the most frightening aspect of anxiety/panic. I could deal with the fear of an MI or stroke, of dying, with all the other nasty side effects of a full blown pa, but these made me feel like I was going insane and I found THAT more terrifying than dying!
Your words will help many who didn't have a clear understanding of what was happening to them.
Thanks from all of us!
480448 tn?1426952138
Thanks so much.  I have to agree with you...they are one of the more debilitating symptoms of anxiety.  It's bad enough to live with frequent severe anxiety...but then to all of a sudden feel like you are "disconnected" or "detatched" from your world, and yourself?  It's awful, and very depressing.

I can't tell you how may eye doctors I tortured when I first experienced this!!  Here was a typical exchange with the poor eye experts:

MD: "Well, what are your symptoms?"

Me: "Things just don't look right"

MD: "Ok, so things are blurry?"

Me: "No, not exactly"

MD: "Fuzzy?"

Me:  "No"

MD:  "Foggy/Misty?"

Me:  "No"

MD; "Are you seeing spots?"

Me:  "No"

MD:  "Floaters?"

Me:  "No"

MD:  "Halos?"

Me:  "No"

MD:  "Shadows?"

Me:  "No"

MD:  "So you have double vision?"

Me:  "No, definitely not that...more like my eyes are seeing differently"

MD:  "Ummmm, okay then.....let me make a phone call"

*Cue the white jacket that snaps in the back and a personalized escort to a special padded room*

(Ok, kidding about that last part, although I'm sure they thought about it...lol)

When I finally found out what the heck it was...I think I breathed a two week long sigh of relief.

No eye problems, just that darned anxiety, AGAIN.  Wicked stuff, that anxiety is.
513832 tn?1211959364
LOL @ that conversation with the doctor.
506490 tn?1213435364
You're most welcome! I'll be sure to check out your journal soon. And yes..I think my friend is coming along fine, thanks for asking..just spoke to him briefly yest & he sounded good..baby steps right? ;)
Avatar universal
that makes sense. This is all new to me.  
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370181 tn?1428180348
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