If you feel deeply disconnected from your mind, body, feelings, memories, or the world around you, you may be experiencing common symptoms of a condition called depersonalization-derealization disorder (DPDR). The symptoms of DPDR are very real and debilitating, making it difficult for people with the condition to cope with everyday life. However, it is treatable, and an experienced trauma and anxiety therapist such as Dr. Taji Huang, PhD in Glendale, CA can help you identify ways to feel safe, normal, and grounded in your daily life.
What Is DPDR?
DPDR is a type of dissociative disorder, which means that it causes people to have a sense of disconnection from their bodies and the world around them. People with DPDR may feel like they are outside of their bodies, or like their thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, or memories don’t quite belong to them. They may also feel like the world around them is not real, or like they are in a dream. These dissociative symptoms can be very distressing and make it difficult to function in day-to-day life.
Symptoms Of DPDR
The symptoms of DPDR can vary from person to person, especially since some people with the condition only experience depersonalization or derealization rather than both. As such, everyone’s experience is different, but there are some common symptoms.
- You feel out of touch with your own body.
- You feel detached from your emotions and memories, almost as if they aren’t really yours.
- When you say or do something, it feels like you’re a robot “going through the motions” in life.
- It feels like you’re a passive observer (rather than the action-taker) in your body.
- When you dissociate, it feels as if your head is wrapped in cotton.
- Sometimes, you feel little to no physical pain, even when you are injured.
- There are times when you look in the mirror and don’t recognize yourself.
- You don’t have a sense of identity.
- At times, it feels like you aren’t a real person or don’t really exist.
- When you get anxious or stressed, the world can start to feel and look very different.
- Sometimes, it feels like reality isn’t real or that the world as we know it might not really exist.
- Sometimes, your color or depth perception feels different than usual.
- When you dissociate, it feels like you’re looking at the world behind a pane of glass or a veil of fog.
- The world around you sometimes looks dull, muted, and “not real enough.”
- Conversely, things might look uncanny, cartoonish, or “too vivid to be real.”
- It feels like life is a dream or a movie rather than reality.
- During a dissociative episode, your sense of time is distorted.
Coping With Dissociation
These dissociative symptoms can be extremely distressing and make it difficult to function in your daily life. However, there is hope. Some people with DPDR find it helpful to use sensory-based techniques to ground themselves and feel more connected to their bodies and the world. Some options include:
- Using An Ice Pack On Your Face
- Doing Cardio Or Yoga
- Taking A Cold Shower
- Eating Peppermint, Cinnamon, Or Sour Candy
- Mindfully Consuming Some Ice Cream, Ice, Or A Popsicle
- Using Perfumes, Essential Oils, Or Smelling Salts
Therapy Can Help
If you are experiencing any symptoms of DPDR, it is important to talk to a therapist who is well-versed in treating the root causes of dissociation, since depersonalization and derealization often (but don’t always) stem from trauma or severe anxiety. She can also help you learn specific grounding techniques and ways of coping during a dissociative episode in order to reduce their frequency, intensity, and duration.
Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder Treatment In Glendale, CA
Dr. Taji Huang PhD, based in Glendale, California has years of experience working with clients suffering from dissociative disorders and other anxiety- or trauma-based conditions. She also offers services in the surrounding areas of Los Feliz, Eagle Rock, Silverlake, Burbank, Pasadena, and Los Angeles. If you or someone you know is struggling with DPDR, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact her office today to schedule an appointment.