Depersonalization vs Derealization

By: Thea Louise Jordal Vikanes

Depersonalization and Derealization are both psychological disorders where an individual feels detached from one's own body or mental processes. Furthermore, this experience is intense and prolonged.  Although about 50% of the general population have experienced this at least once during their lifetime, only two percent are diagnosed. In fact, both depersonalization and derealization occur equally among men and women. Usually, developed in people who have experienced severe stress in their lifetime such as being abused or having a loved one die unexpectedly. As a result, it is common that individuals diagnosed with depersonalization or Derealization, also suffer from anxiety or depression. Even though the two disorders can appear to be very similar, there are some significant differences between them.

First, when someone is experiencing depersonalization, they feel cut off from themselves, for instance, that they are not in control of their movements. Therefore, they struggle with feeling in tune with their emotions and do not feel like themselves. Moreover, some experience memory problems because they feel disconnected from them and cannot remember them clearly. While others have out-of-body experiences or other symptoms such as hearing undefined sounds.

In derealization, a person feels disconnected from the world rather than themselves. Further, it feels like they are in a dream or that there is a glass wall separating them from their surroundings. In short, the world feels funny, and this can also affect their perception. This can for instance involve a changed perception of time, surroundings might appear blurry, or sounds seem louder and more overwhelming.

Martins. S (2021) Psychopathology of attention and perception

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