While many mental health disorders need more awareness, there are some that are still completely unknown to most people. Depersonalisation/ Derealisation disorder (DPRD) is one that you have probably never heard of but it’s important that it is more widely recognised.
DPRD is when a person experiences symptoms of feeling disconnected from their feelings and their surroundings. Although both Depersonalisation and Derealisation are dissociative disorders and are usually experienced simultaneously, the symptoms of Depersonalisation and Derealisation are different so they can be distinguished as separate disorders. As it’s something which can be very confusing and frightening for sufferers, it is complex to define. According to Mind, Depersonalisation is “feeling as if you are just observing your emotions” and “feeling disconnected from parts of your body or your emotions”. Derealisation focuses more on your surroundings, “feeling as though the world around you is unreal”.
In terms of the effect on everyday life, DPRD can make a person feel incredibly ‘spaced out’, unable to focus well on things or manage many tasks at once, feeling detached and isolated from those around them, intrusive thoughts and a sense of overwhelming ‘unrealness’ about the world. Often, people may experience a comorbidity with other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
If you are supporting someone experiencing DPRD, there are a few things you can do to make sure you are providing an environment that feels safe. For example, one of the most important things is to be accepting and acknowledging of a person’s feelings and experiences. It is already a difficult thing to comprehend for both the sufferer and an outsider to their brain, so (as for any mental health condition) asking loads of unhelpful questions and/or being condescending about it doesn’t help. Additionally, just being there to listen non-judgementally, providing reassurance and having patience can be really comforting.
When it comes to treating DPRD, doctors may prescribe medication depending on the symptoms experienced. However, therapy or counselling might be considered a better option for dealing with the symptoms. This could include things like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is a talking therapy that helps to find ways of managing your symptoms “by changing the way you think and behave” (NHS).
If you’d like any advice or information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org