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Symptoms of Depersonalization Disorder


An appropriate depersonalization disorder definition is sought by many. Depersonalization disorder can be defined as a disorder where the person suffering has feelings of not able to relate to his or her life. This disorder affects perceptual and attention processes and frequent complaints of going crazy and losing control are heard in patients of depersonalization disorder. The term was first used in a clinical sense in 1898 by Ludovic Dugas who called it ‘an alienation of personality.’


There are no clinical textbook symptoms for depersonalization disorder. The most important symptom of the depersonalization disorder is that the patients have an unreal sense of reality. The patient will use phrases like experiencing an out of body feeling or feeling like he or she is part of a dream or even feeling detached from one’s own thoughts and experiences. Such experiences can cause anxiety and stress which could lead to a diagnosis of a depersonalization disorder.

There is no particular depersonalization disorder test that would diagnose the condition. The diagnosis for the depersonalization disorder is not done with one test but a series of structured interviews which are then measured on a scale called the Dissociative Experiences Scale or DES. This scale can help determine the degree of depersonalization. Interviews before the test also make a big difference. Especially where the patient narrates his own experiences and sensations of feeling detached from one’s body. But there is no definitive laboratory test for depersonalization disorder.
Doctors have found brain activity while testing the brain for this disorder. In brain scans, parts of the brain that are responsible for emotional reaction do not react in people who have the depersonalization disorder. These brains are sensitized to remembering conditional memories and not processing emotional memories the way people without the disorder are supposed to do. People who suffer from illness that actually physically harm the brain may also suffer from depersonalization disorder. Illnesses like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis, among others, could cause depersonalization disorder. This disorder can exist along with other mood-related disorders like anxiety and depression. Doctors in England suggest that this depersonalization disorder be treated as a mood disorder and not a dissociative disorder due to its symptoms and triggers. This disorder can exist in primary or secondary form. In primary form it is the main disorder while in secondary form, the patient suffers from other disorders along with this one.
The causes of the depersonalization disorder are largely unknown. Childhood trauma and other deep and difficult experiences tend to cause depersonalization disorder, according to psychologists. High stress, deep depression as also consumption of hallucinogens would be some of the triggers that can lead to depersonalization disorder. Researchers believe that people who live in societies that encourage people to live alone tend to find more people suffering from depersonalization disorder.
All types of negative emotions and stimuli works against people who have the depersonalization disorder. Any form of stress and uncomfortable social interaction can trigger feelings. There is no age when this disorder can strike and it can vary in intensity throughout your life.
There is no definite treatment for depersonalization disorder. Events and emotions leading to negative triggers should be avoided. Comforting interpersonal relationships reduce the incidence of triggers that exacerbate the onset of the symptoms of the depersonalization disorder. Eating a regular and healthy diet is known to work as a positive influence for the disease. There is no pharmacology treatment for the patients of depersonalization disorder. Largely cognitive therapies seemed to have worked best but there is not sure shot treatment for this personality disorder. In the case of secondary disorders, some drugs can be given for the other symptoms but research has shown so far that no psychotropic medication helps the symptoms of depersonalization disorder.

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