DPDR overview

When one is struggling with a depersonalization-derealization disorder, it feels like they are observing themselves from outside the body or have a sense that all the things around are not real, or both. This is experienced like one is living in a dream. 

The depersonalization-derealization disorder can be very disturbing and may interfere with one’s relationships, work, and other daily activities. It commonly occurs in people who’ve had some traumatic experiences, usually in the mid- to late teens or early adulthood, and rarely in children and older adults. Episodes of DPDR may last hours, days, weeks, or sometimes months at a time. 

A symptom of depersonalization might be the feeling that one is an outside observer of your thoughts, feelings, your body, or parts of your body. An individual might also have the sense that their legs or arms appear distorted, enlarged, or shrunken. Sometimes people feel robotic or not in control of their speech or movements. Another sign of depersonalization is emotional or physical numbness. Besides, one can have a sense that their memories lack emotions, or even that they may not be real memories. 

Symptoms of derealization include feeling emotionally disconnected from people one cares about, distortions in the perception of time or distance as well as the feeling of being alienated from or unfamiliar with your surroundings. In some cases, surroundings appear distorted, blurry, two-dimensional, colorless, or artificial. 

DPDR recovery gets possible when one turns to psychotherapy, sometimes in combination with medications.

How to beat depersonalization? Depersonalization recovery

The most effective ways to beat depersonalization are the following:


Counseling or talk therapy is the main way to deal with the symptoms of the depersonalization-derealization disorder. For instance, CBT helps people understand the triggers for their symptoms of depersonalization and create a plan that brings them back to their body and reality. Some techniques used in psychotherapy to cope with depersonalization include grounding techniques that help a person feel more in touch with reality and psychodynamic techniques focusing on working through conflicts and negative feelings that individuals tend to detach from. 

Along with developing coping strategies, psychotherapy can also address the past traumas, stress, anxiety, and depression that lies at the heart of the disorder. 


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy was originally created to treat PTSD. Currently,  it’s commonly used to treat various mental health conditions, including DPDR.


Medications approved specifically for treating DPDR don’t exist but healthcare professionals may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants that are effective for diminishing the symptoms of the depersonalization condition. However,  none of these will directly treat DPDR.

The first aid during depersonalization disorder recovery

Once you feel the symptoms of depersonalization, there is something you can do yourself to reduce them. For example, look around and count or name the items you see, reach out to someone and ask them to keep talking to you, or slow your breathing and pay attention to your inhale and exhale. You can also place something that’s really cold or really warm in your hand, so temperatures will shift your focus or pinch the skin on the back of your hand. Another good thing you can do for yourself is a meditation that develops greater awareness of your internal state.

Predispositions for DPDR

Factors that might increase the risk of depersonalization include avoidant  personality traits, severe psychological trauma, acute stress, prolonged depression or anxiety, and using some recreational drugs.

Depersonalization recovery time

The time needed for recovery from depersonalization disorder depends on when you turn for help, what approach is used for treatment, and whether you have any complications. Once your feelings get disturbing and start interfering with work, relationships, or daily activities, request an appointment at doctor’s. Don’t wait until the complications occur, for instance, anxiety or depression.

To reduce the recovery time, you can get ready for your appointment with a psychotherapist by making a list of symptoms you’re experiencing, all medications, vitamins, herbs, and other supplements that you’re taking as well as key personal information. 

Some people struggle with DP for years, so they shouldn’t expect a quick recovery from depersonalization disorder. To deal with it, they need to change their lifestyle and naturally,  it takes time. Leading a balanced life that consists of being active, getting enough rest, eating healthy, and following a routine is a long but reliable way to recover from DP.

Svitlana Drach

Svitlana Drach

Psychology4u.net team member

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