Depersonalization vs. Derealization

Depersonalization and derealization are both terms within the topic sensory distortions of psychopathology, and are involved with changes in associated feelings. More specifically enclosed in the field of perceptual change, which results from a change in the experience of the stimulus of the perception. (Martins, 2021). As they can be characterized as symptoms, they are usually internal to the individual. However, they are also normally viewed as psychological disorders, in the case of an intense and prolonged experience of either, or both, of them. Being that they are grouped together, it seems as if there is often confusion of the difference between them. Nevertheless, keep in mind that if experienced, it does not necessarily mean that one has the disorder, as it could be a period of high levels of stress. (Psych2Go, 2018).

In order to be able to distinguish them, it is important to know the definition of both of the terms. Depersonalization is the perception of the individual itself, when the individual feels cut off from themself. To put it in perspective, as it is relatively normal among the population, when you do not feel like yourself, or even have control over your own movements. Usually declared by individuals diagnosed with depersonalization is that they often feel like they have an out of body experience and seem to look at themselves from the outside. Even memories can diminish, or sometimes be hard to remember clearly. (Psych2Go, 2018). 

Derealization, on the other hand, involves how an individual perceives the world, or environment around themselves and others. Often reported by individuals diagnosed with derealization is that they feel as if they are in a dream where they are cut off from the world. They feel in such a way that they are separated from their surroundings. In addition, they perceive objects around them in other sizes than they in reality are. It could either be way larger or smaller than the true size of the object, or even blurry to look at. Even sounds can be perceived at an unnatural pace. (Psych2Go, 2018).

Simply put, in order to distinguish between depersonalization and derealization, remember that depersonalization involves how the individual perceives themselves

While derealization is associated with how the individual perceives their surroundings.


Martins, S. (2021). Psychopathology: Psychopathology of Attention and Perception. [Slide 39 & 40]. UEM.blackboard. Retrieved from:

Psych2Go. (2018, September 26). Depersonalization vs Derealization. [Video]. YouTube.

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