Symptoms of depersonalization disorder are initially episodic but become more frequent and severe over time, with symptoms fluctuating, but never being entirely absent.

Symptoms can affect people on five levels:

  1. Emotional
  2. Cognitive
  3. Physical
  4. Behavioural
  5. Environmental

People suffering with depersonalization disorder will experience symptoms of depersonalization, derealization or both


Depersonalization: feeling detached from one’s body, feelings, thoughts, sensations. E.g. being unable to recognise oneself in a mirror, or feeling as though it is not them. Patients may feel like an outside observer to their life or feel disconnected for their memories and emotions.

“A feeling of being fundamentally wrong in your own body”

“Separate from myself”

“Like a robot”

“It feels like my limbs do not belong to me”

“I do not feel an emotional connection”


Derealization: feeling detached from their surroundings, a sense that things are unreal. Patients may feel as though they are in a dream or a fog, or like there is glass wall between them and the world. Derealization is often experienced in conjunction with blurred vision or perceptual distortions.

“Everything appears flat or in 2D”

“My head feels full of cotton wool”

“Everything is wavy”

Other typical symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Loss of emotional reactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Autoscopy
  • Fear of going ‘crazy’
  • Emotional numbness


Cause of DPD

Whilst the cause of depersonalization disorder is still not known, there are a number of factors thought to increase the risk of it developing, including:

  • Severe trauma
  • Severe stress
  • Depression or Anxiety
  • Recreational drug use


Characterized by the “shutting down” of emotional responses, depersonalization disorder is hypothesised to be a result of a disruption in the limbic system and the temporal lobes.

These structures are predominantly involved in regulating responses to emotional stimuli, memory and integrating incoming sensory information with our internal representation of oneself.

fMRI studies have shown significant differences in the way patients with depersonalization and healthy controls process emotional stimuli and regulate emotional response.

In patients with depersonalization, their prefrontal areas (responsible for emotional regulation) are shown to be hyperactive, but their limbic areas (responsible for emotional processing) are underactive.

PET scanning in patients with depersonalization have also shown evidence of increased metabolic activity in the temporal and parietal areas. The Temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) incorporates information from the thalamus and the limbic system, as well as from the visual, auditory, and somatosensory systems. It also integrates information from both the external environment as well as from within the body.


Treatment for DPD

  • Medication-free treatment for depersonalization disorder
  • Proven results

DPD Treatment Clinic in London

13 Crescent Place,
South Kensington,

Everything to gain

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