A Non-Dynamic Trio: Depression, Depersonalization, and Derealization


Having depression can trigger feelings of depersonalization and derealization.

People commonly experience these feelings at different times during their life. They are only considered a problem when they persist and impair a person’s daily functioning.

Depersonalization and derealization, when they accompany symptoms of depression, can contribute to problems with focusing, motivation, and communication. The feelings typically fade when depressive symptoms are relieved.

Signs of Depersonalization and Derealization

People with depersonalization or derealization understand that their distortions of perception and feeling are not real; yet, the symptoms can make people feel as if they are “losing it.” Be assured that having these feelings does not indicate you are losing your grip on reality, no matter how peculiar the sensations.

Depersonalization is tough to describe, but involves a sense of detachment from the self.

  • Feeling as if you are a bystander observing your own feelings, thoughts, body, or areas of the body; or feeling as if you are floating just behind or right above the physical self.
  • Seeing the body or certain limbs as being distorted, bigger or smaller than usual, or feeling as if the head is wrapped in cotton.
  • Feeling as if your movements are robotic, or that you are not in control of your movements or speech.
  • Recalling memories without emotion, or feeling as if the memories are not yours.
  • Feeling emotionally and physically numb to your surroundings.

Derealization, also difficult to put into words, is typically described as some type of perceptual distortion or detachment from the world.

  • A sense of alienation from one’s surroundings, or feeling that familiar surroundings are unfamiliar; some people feel that they are living within a movie.
  • Surroundings can look blurred, pale, two-dimensional, distorted, or fake; or, the surroundings might be viewed with heightened clarity.
  • Sensing a barrier between yourself and the people you care about, or feeling emotionally disconnected from them.
  • Distances, and the shape and size of objects, seem distorted.
  • The perception of time is distorted—such as a distant past event feeling recent.

If you are depressed and experience depersonalization or derealization, tell your mental health care professional about the symptoms. If not seeing a counselor, consider doing so. They can help you reduce the intensity of your depression and to manage the strange sensations of depersonalization and derealization.

Source: Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Lachlan Hardy


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