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Complete Guide to Treating Depersonalization/Derealization

A lot of the information here provided is based on first hand experience and research and I hope many will benefit from what it has to offer. The less time you spend dealing with anxiety the more time you have left to enjoying life and that is the goal here.

Definition/symptoms:

Depersonalization is a state of consciousness, a form of out of body experience, characterized by intense feelings of dissociation, identity loss, confusion and feelings of being anyone but not self. Many compare this subjective occurrence to a dream-like or automated state in which reality lacks depth along with its usual complacence. The latter definition is frequently tagged, separately, as derealization, which evokes disconnection from the surroundings compared to depersonalization, which pertains mainly to one’s ego detachment. As peculiar and disconcerting it may sound and feel, it is a fairly common and widespread issue, plaguing legions anxiety sufferers.

Causes:

It is not a coincidence that so many anxious individuals, including myself, are familiar with this term, not only from reading but from experience as well. In reality, anxiety is the main cause of depersonalization and it is anxiety which when alleviated brings about lessening of the dissociation. Therefore, in case you are new to being depersonalized, let go of your excessive worries and catastrophic theories of becoming insane or stuck forever in such a deranged state of mind as nothing along those lines is going to happen – it all tracks back to a harmless, although very uncomfortable, emotion notoriously known as anxiety.

Triggers:

The triggers of depersonalization range from drug experimentation to natural progression of anxiety. Those suffering from anxiety are at an elevated risk of experiencing depersonalization at one point or another and might be more sensitive to experiencing depersonalization in the presence of chemical triggers such as various psychedelics, including cannabis, dissociatives (ketamine, pcp), alcohol and even coffee – anything that has the potential to aggravate anxiety. Environmental triggers can be equally relevant and include speaking in public, abuse, car accidents and any other form of trauma. Triggering depersonalization is, often sadly, easier than recovering from it, but that should be nothing to discourage you as it is very much satisfying and possible.

Prognosis:

Depersonalization is by no means permanent, at least the negative emotions, or better yet the lack of them, which it carries along with it are at most recurrent, but not persisting at a single level. The severity and recurrence rate all depend on your anxiety levels and how well are you able to keep your anxiety in check. Therefore if you know how to address and reduce the anxiety you also know how to reduce the side effects of anxiety including depersonalization.

Treatment:

As you might have guessed, treating depersonalization applies the same techniques as treating anxiety does and fortunately there are literally thousands of such techniques making selection difficult, but at the same time providing a lot of opportunity to gain relief. I have tested a generous bunch myself and here are some you might want to consider:

Supplements – Anxiety, as any state of consciousness, has its biological causes, in other words any change in consciousness, be it positive or negative, can be explained at a molecular level. Anxiety may arise from a variety of malfunctions in synaptic transmission, metabolism, absorption, and from deficiencies of essential nutrients. Therefore correcting the proper function will allow for reverting to a more pleasant mindset. Consider the following supplements: B-complex, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium and many other minerals and vitamins which play important roles in cellular metabolism and neural firing. Incorporate them into your diet and see how you respond. In reasonable doses they possess no toxicity and carry no negative side effects so it definitely is worth a try. Additionally, there are supplements, which might not correct deficiencies, but affect other aspects of your physiology in favor of alleviating anxiety. These include L-theanine, GABA, Lecithin, Fish Oil, BCAA or Rhodiola Rosea among many others. These, generally, also posses low toxicity and therefore inflict no harm in case they bring no benefit to you.

Meditation – great for resting your mind and giving yourself some time to think about problems and devising their solutions. I recommend you to find at least 10 minutes daily, sit down and breathe deeply while allowing any thoughts to manifest and once then do simply observe and analyze them, do not react emotionally as you would normally with anxiety. What this does is allow you to become less impulsive and more resistant to anxious thoughts and situations. By not over-reacting emotionally you gain the advantage of rationalizing before acting, a characteristic practical not only to anxiety sufferers.

Analyze and address the sources of your anxiety – to be really successful at keeping your anxiety at bay you will need to look at the very core sources of your anxiety. These might be, for example, maladaptive behaviors or thinking processes you have taken up on. In my case, it were irritating, attacking thoughts, which many of you might be familiar with, that invaded my consciousness refusing to leave. For better illustration purposes let us dissect this particular problem and consequently solve it:

Example of a problem

Wanting everything to be perfect at all times and costs can be a great motivation, but only within limits. Trying to live up to unreasonably high standards and consistently obsessing about your failures or events you misinterpret as failures, although they were fairly successful relatively speaking, will trigger a difficult to reverse cascade of anxiety. Constantly asking questions of the type what if it happened differently? or why me? why am I so unlucky? am I turning crazy? successfully consumes your focus pulling you out of reality, which deserves most of your focus, into a confined department filled with profoundly negative thoughts. As you might have noticed from experience this can become quite a habit and habits are hard to break so in a sense you become addicted to anxious thinking. Unfortunately, the thinking begins to projects into behavior and starts eliciting physiological responses characteristic to anxiety such as panic attacks, racing heart and restlessness. Now the habit becomes even harder to break as you have associated it with strong emotions further imprinting the experience into your memory. See how this becomes a never-ending problem that constantly gains in force? Therefore it is important to break the habit as soon as possible to save yourself from prolonged struggling and it is why some patience and time are required to break the habit as you need to replace the practice with a healthier one.

Solution to the problem

Recognizing what the problem is and that it is an anxious response rather than a normal form of reasoning is the first move. The issue in this case is over-thinking and exaggerating so you will want to rationalize the response by questioning the negative questions/exaggerations. You might want to ask yourself: What are the chances of me going crazy considering that I have already experienced this without turning psychotic? Did it really turn out so bad? In other words, you are fighting your anxiety, which skews your view on reality, by using evidence and reason to counter its proposals. By adapting approaches like this one or similar and replacing the previous, detrimental one you successfully break the vicious loop.

Parting words:

Hopefully, by now what you are experiencing seems no longer so hopeless and unmanageable. Anxiety might have many tricks in its sleeve to surprise you with, but there are as many if not more techniques to counter those attacks. As soon as I have started working on my anxiety, instead of just waiting for it to pass on its own, I started to feel the difference between anxiety and no anxiety. Anxiety signals for a change in life-style so try to listen, decipher that signal and take the required measures.

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