Depersonalization is an experience that can be scary for people who have it, but in many ways, it’s also quite a remarkable phenomenon.
With depersonalization, you feel disconnected from your own thoughts and feelings. It’s as if they belong to someone else rather than you. In a sense, this is true – because the person you are during a bout of depersonalization isn’t the real you!
It would be much stranger if there were no changes in your personality when you’re experiencing depersonalization.
The fact that someone feels so different from themselves at one moment and then feels like their old self again the next indicates some kind of repackaging has taken place.
Whether you have experienced depersonalization before or not yet, this article will help identify what it is and how to cope with it better. Here are some common questions answered about depersonalization.
What Does Depersonalization Feel Like?
Depersonalization is an altered state of consciousness in which a person feels detached from their mental processes or emotions. It is not a mental illness but can accompany anxiety, panic, depression, and OCD.
People who experience it may feel as though they are outside of their own body, observing themselves or their actions as if they are in another person’s shoes.
Imagine trying to feel your own pain when you’re not even sure if you’re real or not.
The experience of depersonalization can be very confusing, especially if it comes on quickly and unexpectedly.
While there are many potential causes of depersonalization, they all have this in common: a disruption in the normal relationship between the person and their own thoughts.
When you’re managing your own thoughts well, you feel like you’re in charge. And when you’re having thoughts you don’t like or don’t want to have, you know they’re not you.
What Causes Depersonalization?
It’s really common to experience some degree of depersonalization, and it’s not a sign of any mental illness. It can happen to anyone, and many people report having experienced it at least once in their life.
Many things can trigger depersonalization, and it’s not always easy to tell what’s behind it.
Some common causes of depersonalization are:
- Stress – This is the most common cause of depersonalization.
- Anxiety – Worrying excessively about things that might happen in the future is a common trigger for depersonalization.
- Sleep deprivation – It can often lead to feelings of detachment from reality.
- Extreme hunger – Overeating can also be a trigger for depersonalization.
- Taking drugs – Depersonalization is a common side effect of many drugs.
- Being in an altered state of consciousness – Such as when you’re asleep or in a meditative, hyper-focused state.
- Undergoing trauma or stress – This can activate the fight or flight response in your body, which is responsible for the above symptoms.
- Undergoing an intense emotional experience – Experiencing something really positive or negative can also trigger depersonalization.
How to Recognize Depersonalization
It’s important to know that being in a hypnagogic state isn’t the same as experiencing full-blown depersonalization. These states are very different from one another.
In a hypnagogic state, you’re still aware that you’re yourself and that your thoughts belong to you. But when you’re experiencing full-blown depersonalization, it’s like you’ve been living inside a dream.
You’re aware that you’re in your own body and that your thoughts are yours.
But there’s a big difference – you feel as if your thoughts are coming from someone else. This is the hallmark of depersonalization. What state your mind is in can often be identified by your thoughts.
If you’re having thoughts that belong to your real self but feel like they’re coming from someone else, then you’re probably in a depersonalized state.
How to Cope with Depersonalization
Unfortunately, there isn’t a “cure” for depersonalization. The only way to end the experience is by managing whatever triggered it in the first place.
However, there are things you can do to improve your situation:
1. Take a break from your triggers
This may sound counterintuitive, but the more you push through an episode of depersonalization and stay in contact with your triggers, the longer the episode will last. Find ways to give yourself a break, even if it’s just while you’re sleeping.
2. Spend time with loved ones
These people are a great source of comfort, even when you’re not feeling yourself. Spend time with those who support you and help you feel like yourself again.
3. Write down your thoughts
Sometimes, we can’t get a handle on what’s been triggering us because we’re too overwhelmed and confused to see the problem. Writing down your thoughts can help you identify what’s bugging you so you can take steps to manage it.
4. Take care of yourself
You’re living with a challenge, and you need to step up your self-care to make it easier to deal with. Do things that make you feel good, like listening to music, going for a walk, or reading a book.
Tips for Coping with Depersonalization
Now that you’re better prepared to identify when depersonalization is happening to you, it’s time to start thinking about ways to cope.
Here are some tips to make depersonalization less of a burden:
Get enough sleep
Sleep is one of the easiest ways to take a break from your triggers. During sleep, you aren’t as susceptible to stressful thoughts.
What you eat can greatly impact how you feel. If you eat right, you can more easily cope with triggers.
When you’re dehydrated, your body becomes more susceptible to triggers. Stay hydrated to keep your mind and body healthy so you can easily cope with triggers.
Final Words: Don’t Be Afraid of Your Feelings
Depersonalization can be scary, but it’s important to remember that it’s not permanent. The best way to deal with it is to take steps to manage whatever’s triggering you. Once you do, the depersonalization will start to subside.
While it can be scary to feel feelings, they’re an essential part of being human. They help us connect with others, understand our world, and have meaningful experiences.
When you’re able to manage your triggers and feel your emotions again, you’ll be glad you didn’t shy away from them.