Depersonalization disorder is a mental disorder that fits along the dissociative disorder spectrum. It can occur in acute ways or be a chronic disorder that causes people to suffer over months or years. In many ways, depersonalization occurs a lot like a panic attack. Moments may be brief when someone feels like they are separated from their thoughts and even their physical body.
Statistics on Depersonalization Disorder
1. 50% of all adults in the United States will suffer from at least 1 or 2 depersonalization disorder attacks over the course of their lifetime.
2. The primary cause of a depersonalization disorder attack: stress.
3. People who are suffering from psychiatric problems have a 40% chance of also having depersonalization disorder present.
4. 1 in 3 patients who have a life-threatening or terminal disease are prone to having brief attacks of depersonalization.
5. Women are 2x more likely to suffer from depersonalization disorder than men.
6. There is minimal information about the prevalence of depersonalization in the various racial or ethnic groups.
7. 200,000. That’s the number of the people in the United States that are suffering from some level of depersonalization disorder on any given day.
8. In clinical studies, the average age of onset for depersonalization disorder: 16.
9. People who suffer from depersonalization at an earlier age typically have more severe versions of the disorder.
10. Depersonalization disorder was first described in the late 19th century.
11. The course of depersonalization disorder is typically long term and is often continuous.
12. Up to 66% of people who experience a traumatic event will also suffer from some form of depersonalization.
13. 30%. That’s the percentage of war veterans that are believed to be suffering from depersonalization disorder at any given time.
14. Veterans who are suffering from unipolar depression are 2x more likely to also be suffering from depersonalization.
15. 2 out of every 3 people who sustain mild head injury may experience feelings of unreality.
16. Among those with a significant period of unconsciousness from a head injury, only 11% had complaints that would fit the criteria of depersonalization.
17. In a 1996 study, more than 79% of the respondents who described a lifestyle that included acute stress also reported symptoms of depersonalization.
18. 43% of the survivors of a natural disaster report feeling emotional numbing, one of the indicators of a depersonalization attack.
19. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in a 2004 study produced a 28% reduction on depersonalization scores.
20. About 5% of people who may be suffering from depersonalization at any given moment may not have any distinguishable symptoms of the disorder.
21. It is more likely for someone to have additional episodes of depersonalization, even if the feelings or symptoms go away on their own, if they don’t seek out treatment for their first bout with this disorder.
Suffering with Depersonalization Disorder
When someone is suffering from depersonalization disorder, it feels like their body isn’t really there. The environment changes in an unnatural way and in some cases, the physical body even seems to change or dissolve. It can occur as an individual disorder or it may be a symptom of other disorders, including PTSD, general anxiety disorders, or even with borderline personality traits. When someone feels like they were outside of their body when actions were being taken, this is reflective of depersonalization.
Depersonalization can make itself known even when there isn’t a physical illness in place. Having a lack of sleep for an extended period of time has also been known to create this disorder. This was seen especially after the terrorist attacks in NYC on September 11, 2001, when rescue workers were working 36-48 hours straight in order to find survivors. Although it isn’t necessarily a dangerous disorder, it can change a person’s visual perceptions and make them emotionally numb, which could be dangerous in specific situation.
The statistics of depersonalization disorder show that the issue is more common that many people might believe. It is so common, in fact, that the odds would be equal to a coin flip for each reader of this particular content to have suffered from a depersonalization attack at some point in their life.
Most of the people who seek out treatment for their depersonalization disorder aren’t actually concerned about it. They are more concerned about the feelings of anxiety and depression that are present because of the depersonalization. Because these two issues are typically co-occurring, however, it is often necessary to treat both instead of just one or the other.
For the average person, the symptoms of depersonalization disorder are actually going to go away on their own. It simply takes a little time for the body and the mind to correct itself. Treatment becomes necessary when the disorder becomes chronic in nature or begins to return with frequency. Individuals who have symptoms that are particularly distressing to them may also wish to seek out treatment right away.
The goal of treating depersonalization disorder to make sure that all of the stresses and triggers that may have created the disorder in the first place have coping mechanisms in place. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is quite effective because it forces the mind to look at its thinking patterns and what errors might be in place that could be causing the disorder to fire up. Sometimes family therapy, marriage counseling, or specific creative therapies can help because they also encourage higher levels of coping mechanisms. Clinical hypnosis may also be an option for particularly difficult chronic cases of this disorder.
A complete recovery is often experienced, but depersonalization disorder needs to be proactively addressed in order to keep it at bay. Although intensely stressful situations, like a natural disaster, are outside of each person’s control, with effective coping mechanisms in place and a solid plan of action to react to depersonalization feelings, this is a disorder that doesn’t have to influence a person’s life any more.