Depersonalization Disorder

Depersonalization disorder is a feeling of being detached or disconnected from one’s own body and observing itself from the outside. It is a situation when a person thinks the world around him/her is not real because everything seems like a dream. Another name for depersonalization disorder is Derealization disorder.


The prevalence of this disease is not accurately known. According to the survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM), half of the adult population experience few glimpses of depersonalization in their life where 40% of patients are vulnerable to it. Another study demonstrates it’s prevalence to be between 0.8% and 2% and it affects both sexes equally.


The exact cause of this disorder is not known, however, its triggers are recognizable. Some of them are:

  • Interpersonal damages in childhood (emotional, physical or sexual)
  • Self-centered culture
  • Depressive disorder or excessive stress
  • Childhood abuse or adult life trauma
  • Witnessed war, extreme violence, disasters accidents or abuse
  • Usage of recreational drugs

An individual having depersonalization lack short-term verbal and visual memory along with spatial intelligence and concentration. The related cognitive issues are due to childhood abuse or adult life trauma.


Studies conducted in early 2002 prove that there is no genetic cause of this disorder. A research by American Scholars shows that depersonalization is very different from post-traumatic-stress-disorder as the pattern of responses in patients while HPA testing was fluctuating. PET tests suggested that the sensory cortex functions properly in patients with depersonalization.

Other studies by British scientists proposed that decreased level of nerve cell response causes depersonalization that begins with emotional detachment. Another possible factor may be the dramatic changes in social units and structure.


This phobic disorder does not show any particular sign or symptom like other phobias. However, some possible features indicate the occurrence of depersonalization disorder:

  • Feeling of being an external observer of yourself or a dream-like situation
  • Afraid by the thoughts of becoming mad
  • The sensation of the uncontrolled body, speech or action
  • Feeling of numbness in the surrounding
  • Extreme anxious behavior
  • Emotional disconnection from the loved ones and others
  • Distortions in the perception of time
  • Deformity in the distance and shape, size of an object
  • The sensation of the memories lacking emotion
  • Depression

Depersonalization disorder code

The ICD9 code of this disorder is 300.6.

How long does Depersonalization disorder last?

DPD is both short term and long term attribute. This disorder can persist for a minute or even for months and several years. Initially, it occurs in short-term episodes, but later, it becomes persistent.


A detailed check-up and observation are required to diagnose the depersonalization disorder. To detect the dissociative disorders relevant and researched questionnaire or quiz paper serves the process properly. A standard questionnaire is the best technique for diagnosis in this case. Depersonalization disorder is also diagnosed by the structured clinical interview sessions meant for DSM- IV dissociative disorder. SCID-D is the more detailed form of interrogation that allows the patient to share their experiences in a particularized manner.

Few medical tests may be prescribed by a doctor in case of doubts about other possibilities. These tests will be the part of the diagnostic process. Depersonalization Severity Scale (DSS) differentiates the disease from other dissociative disorders. Further, the Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule (DDIS) assist in knowing about secondary features of dissociative identity disorder, symptoms of schizophrenia or drug abuse.


DPD (depersonalization disorder) naturally fades away after some time. However, it also needs a plan and effective treatment if it does not resolve on its own. Few treatments are listed below:

  • Counseling: The session gives a healthy outcome for most occasions because it tries to find out the reasons for its occurrence. It intends to reduce stress levels by instilling positive thoughts into the patient, depression.
  • Psychotherapy: This therapy involves cognitive therapy that focuses on changing or modifying the dysfunctional pattern of thinking. Psychotherapy helps a person to recognize and communicate his/her thoughts and emotions including psychological conflicts that could lead to DPD.
  • Medications: Medications don’t contribute to the treatment of dissociative disorder. However, when a person is also suffering from anxiety and depression, then antidepressant or anti-anxiety medicines can work.
  • Attention Exercises: The regular practice of certain exercises like meditation and yoga proves to be a sustainable healing process. These attention exercises enhance the brain coordination.
  • Creative therapy: Additionally, art therapy, music therapy and other creative factors that opens up the visualization and thought process are very helpful to cure DPD. It facilitates the patient to explore his/her feelings, memories and thoughts creatively.
  • Lifestyle Management: Aims to offer relief from stress and adopt a balanced diet as well as proper sleeping schedules.


In most of the cases, complete recovery is very normal because DPD is not a fatal disorder. However, derealization are common but intense or severe feeling of disconnectedness from the surrounding is the matter of concern. Therefore one should visit the psychotherapist, and that will result in a better prognosis. It can recur after full recovery also.



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.