6 Tragic Signs You Unknowingly Suffer From Depersonalization Disorder

It's more common than you think.

6 Big Signs You Unknowingly Suffer From Depersonalization Disorder Getty Images

What is depersonalization disorder? If you've ever felt disconnected from your body or numb to feeling anything, you may have depersonalization disorder

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that nearly 75 percent of all people experience depersonalization at least once in their lives as an isolated episode, and 2 percent as a full-blown disorder.

Depersonalization disorder and feelings of unreality (DPAFU) is a misunderstood and often misdiagnosed mental illness and condition. In order to understand depersonalization, you need to understand dissociation first.


Dissociation is thought of as disruptions in various elements of consciousness, identity, memory, physical actions, and/or environment.

It's the disconnection or absence of a connection between things that are normally associated with each other. It's a disconnect between an experience and your sense of self.

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Feeling emotionally numb and detached can be alarming and scary.

Sometimes, depersonalization is a symptom of another disorder such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, or it can be a symptom of an illness like epilepsy or migraines. Depersonalization can just occur or be a side-effect of certain drugs.

6 Tragic Signs You Unknowingly Suffer From Depersonalization Disorder

1. You feel like a completely separate entity from your body.

Your body feels like a stranger to you. Your head may feel like it's been wrapped in cotton, and your body feels hollow and lifeless.

Some people lose their sense of touch, taste, and smell, and may feel the need to pinch, poke or hit themselves, just to try to feel normal again.


2. You don't feel any connection to the person you see in the mirror.

You feel a sense of profound detachment when you see your reflection, so you try to avoid it. In fact, you avoid other things in addition to mirrors, like leaving the house or being with people. 

3. You experience a sense of detachment from your environment. 

Oftentimes, depersonalization is accompanied by derealization, and you not only feel disconnected from the world, but you're also unfamiliar with it, individuals, inanimate objects, and/or all surroundings.

Derealization often involves subjective visual distortions such as fuzziness, heightened sensitivity, a larger or smaller visual field, two-dimensionality or flatness, and exaggerated 3D visions or altered sizes of objects.

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4. You feel like a robot. 

When experiencing depersonalization, people sometimes feel like they are an observer of their own bodies and mental process.

Their voice may sound unfamiliar and their thoughts, the way they speak, and the things they do no longer feel spontaneous. Instead, they feel as if they're just going through the motions.

Another major factor sufferers describe is the inability to feel emotion, even to those closest to them.

5. You think your memories belong to someone else.

You may struggle with attention and memory, have trouble remembering everyday things, have trouble taking in new information, and experience thoughts that are accelerated or confused.


Your memories may lack an emotional core or you may feel as if they're so far away from you that they can't possibly be your own.

6. You know there's something wrong. 

You aren't delusional; you know that something isn't right with you and the way you view the world.

The best treatment for depersonalization is talk therapy since there are no medications specifically designed for this disorder. Though, certain medications designed to treat depression and anxiety such as Prozac, Klonopin, and Anafranil may help.


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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.