Depersonalization and unrealization: when everything seems to be a dream

Have you ever felt something strange happen to you, like you can observe yourself from outside your body as a spectator of yourself, or the reality becomes strange and unreal, as if everything is happening in the middle? slow motion or in a setting?

Depersonalization and unrealization they are experiences in which oneself or the environment seem strange, like in a dream or a movie. In this article we will talk about it.

    Depersonalization and unrealization: what is it?

    Depersonalization is a painful and disturbing experience in which the person experiences a feeling of alienation from himself, a feeling of being separated or coming out of his own body. It frequently coexists with unrealization, consisting of an altered perception of the environment that produces a feeling of unreality.

    The person experiences the world as if it is strange or unreal, as if it is in a dream. In both cases there is an altered perception of reality, but while in depersonalization this feeling refers to the body itself, in disrealization it is the environment that seems altered.

    Often affected patients they have a hard time describing these episodes and they may think they are going crazy. They can perceive alterations in the shape and size of objects and people may find this strange. An alteration in the subjective sensation of the passage of time may also appear. These experiences are not considered serious or dangerous, however, they are disturbing and quite confusing, causing great worry and discomfort, and fear of having an episode again in the future.

    Unlike psychotic disorders, where the person believes that the altered perceptions are real, as in the case of hallucinations, in depersonalization or derealization, the sense of reality remains intact, i.e. the person is conscious that its perception is not real and is a product of your mind.

      When do they appear?

      Depersonalization and derealization have been observed during states of fatigue, sleep deprivation, infectious diseases such as the flu, or after consuming alcohol or drugs such as LSD, mescaline or marijuana, in the syndrome weaning. Withdrawal of anxiolytics and induced by certain antidepressants such as fluoxetine. It is usually triggered by a high degree of anxiety and stress, and is common in panic disorder. It can also appear in post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or schizophrenia.

      Although this is a little known and relatively little studied phenomenon, approximately half of adults have had at least one episode of depersonalization or unrealization in isolation throughout his life. However, depersonalization / derealization disorder is much less common, its presence estimated at 2% of the population.

      Dissociative disorder

      The disorder of depersonalization and unrealization is part of dissociative disorders in current diagnostic classifications.

      The term “dissociation” is used to describe the disconnection between things generally associated with each other. In this case, it is the perceptions that are considered to be dissociated, more precisely the integration of perceptual experiences. Dissociation is a defense mechanism that is generally used to relieve intense emotional pain caused by very painful experiences or trauma.

      In the context of severe childhood trauma such as sexual abuse, dissociation can be considered adaptive because it reduces intense emotional pain. However, if the dissociation continues into adulthood, when the initial danger does not exist, it can be dysfunctional and lead to associated problems.

      His diagnosis

      The diagnosis of depersonalization / derealization disorder consists of persistent or recurring experiences of depersonalization, unrealization, or both that cause significant discomfort in an individual’s life.

      These episodes are not caused by a medical illness, other mental disorder, drugs or medication. Although, as we have seen, episodes of depersonalization or unrealization do not present any risk, and are relatively frequent in isolated cases, when repeated, they can greatly limit life and cause great suffering to the affected individual. In these cases, it is advisable to turn to a professional, who provides the tools necessary to understand, manage and master this puzzling and little-known disorder.

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