Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder (DDD), which causes individuals to feel disconnected or detached from their own thoughts and body, is a complex mental health condition which can occur for a matter of days or even years at a time. Those with a recent diagnosis of the condition may have many questions about it, such as does depersonalization disorder go away? and is there a cure?
People suffering from depersonalization disorder have a distorted perception of themselves and their body. Some describe the sensation as being in a dream; they feel they are not quite present in their daily life and are almost operating on autopilot. It can feel a little like you are not quite within your own body, but are observing your actions from afar.
Due to the confusing nature of the disorder, many individuals get very stressed or worried about their experience. For some people, this triggers panic attacks, anxiety and even depression which may need to be dealt with separately to the DDD.
The symptoms of DDD can last anywhere between a few days and several years. In mild cases, episodes tend to be very short and are a little easier to cope with. In chronic cases, people can experience recurrent episodes of the condition and it may start to have a significant impact on their quality of life.
Depersonalization is one of many aspects of dissociation, which is the feeling of being detached in many different ways. Almost half of people in the US experience dissociation at one point or another in their life. However, depersonalization - which specifically relates to feeling detached from oneself - is far less common, and it is not understood exactly how many people experience it.
It is known that DDD affects women twice as much as men, and that it is most common in people aged between 15 and 30. After the age of 40, depersonalization is very rarely seen.
It's not fully understood the exact cause of DDD, but like many other mental health conditions it is thought there could be several factors at play.
Firstly, some people may simply be predisposed to depersonalization due to genetics or environmental factors. Secondly, it is believed that high stress, fear or anxiety could trigger episodes.
Finally, some experts believe that childhood trauma or moments of extreme emotional stress in the past could lead to depersonalization. Studies in 2002 found that emotional abuse experienced as a child was a particularly strong predictor of DDD. Although it might be a response to past trauma, further research has found that depersonalization disorder shouldn't be considered a type of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but a disorder in its own right.
As part of DDD treatment, it may be possible to establish the cause of episodes in individual patients.
So, does depersonalization disorder go away? In many cases, depersonalization can go away without any treatment at all. It often occurs in mild, short episodes and disappears before sufferers start to feel too concerned by it. However, if it is left untreated, depersonalization is likely to reoccur in the future. For this reason it is strongly recommended that you seek professional help if you have experienced more than one episode of the condition.
There are two main methods for treating depersonalization disorder - psychotherapy and medication.
Currently there aren't any medications designed specifically to treat depersonalization disorder. However, doctors may recommend medications for depression and/or anxiety if patients present with these symptoms. Although depression and anxiety are likely to alleviate when the depersonalization disorder is solved, patients who are really struggling to cope with these secondary conditions may find medications very useful.
Psychotherapy, also known as talking therapy, tends to be the most effective method of treating DDD. It can help patients to get to the root cause of the depersonalization and allow them to find coping strategies or distraction techniques to reduce the severity of depersonalization in stressful or traumatic moments which are likely to trigger an episode. Other secondary conditions, such as anxiety and depression, can also be dealt with through psychotherapy.
So, does depersonalization disorder go away? Yes, it's possible.