If you encountered such symptoms as “foggy head”, sense of unreality of the outside world, as well as unreality in your sense of self. If you feel that your emotions became numb and dull, that you lost your emotional connection with something that usually brings you joy, then this article is for you.
I will tell here how to get rid of derealization and depersonalization without medication, explain what is it and enumerate the symptoms. I will not advise you to take pills, because they don’t eliminate the cause of such an ailment. I will tell you about safe, efficient and natural methods to solve this problem forever.
This article is based on psychologists advice, as well as on personal experience of getting rid of derealization.
Some time ago I encountered panic attacks and anxiety as a result of huge stress. The most unpleasant thing was that sudden attacks of fear and panic, constant anxiety were accompanied by other symptoms. One of them was the sense of brain fog, the sense of detachment from the outside world and from my own emotions.
In the beginning I thought that it was a kind of serious mental disease. When I had these symptoms, I got very nervous, not being able to get rid of restless thoughts about my condition. Later it got worse. Even when there was no derealisation I had a fear: “What if these sensations come back? What if it is a symptom of madness?”
But now I can think calmly and ironically about my past worries. Everything is in the past now. Now I am in a state of deep and strong connection with my sensations and outside world. I perceive the world clearly. I don’t feel that life passes me by. I feel I’m alive.
Here I’m going to share effective techniques of getting rid of derealization and depersonalization, that helped me to get out of this state.
What is derealization?
What is derealization and how it differs from depersonalization? In a nutshell, the derealization – is a feeling of unreality of what is happening around, (or certain “detachment”, “distance” from external events) and depersonalization is the feeling of unreality of what is happening inside.
Derealization (as well as the depersonalization) in most cases is not a separate disorder. Most often it is just one of the symptoms of panic disorder (panic attacks) and/or anxiety disorder.
Derealization and depersonalization symptoms
The symptoms of derealization
- The sense of “brain fog” or “mental cloudiness”
- The feeling as if the signals from the outside world reach our mind with a delay
- The state of detached from external reality “observer”, who perceives this reality as a movie
- Familiar things (beautiful sceneries, beloved people, entertainments) do not evoke an emotional response
- The state when we live this life as if in a dream
The symptoms of depersonalization
- A sense of “flatness”, “dullness” of your own emotions and feelings
- A feeling that our body and our emotions seem to be someone else’s
- A feeling of unreality (“vagueness”, “uncertainty”) of the “self”
The symptom related to both states
- Restlessness and worries about the state of derealization/depersonalization
Basically, given states accompany each other. Moreover, many researchers do not differ them at all. Anyway, when we are aware of the outside world, we “filter” the information about it through the prism of our inner perception, which is also aware of the inner world . In other words, one does not have two separate types of perception of external and internal reality. There is only one perception.
And if this perception is “disturbed” (I used this word with inverted commas so that you won’t be scared: derealization is a safe symptom, but I will tell about it later), this “disturbance” will inevitably extend to the experiencing of the outside as well as the inside events. I described this principle not for abstract philosophizing, but for formulating a practical conclusion:
- Methods and principles that allow us to get rid of derealization eliminate depersonalization and vice versa. These two deeply interconnected phenomena don’t require two different schemes of “treatment” (again, I use inverted commas as I think that there are no illnesses: derealization is a self-protective mechanism of our mind; this will be also discussed below).
And in this article when I use “derealization”, I mean both the symptoms of derealization and the symptoms of depersonalization.
Why do derealization and depersonalization appear?
This problem hasn’t been fully studied yet. That’s why we can’t answer this question with full certainty. Nevertheless, there are different theories which try to explain this phenomenon.
I am an adherent of the theory that derealization is the protective mechanism of our mind. All the irony of such an ailment as panic attacks is that the symptoms which are considered life threatening, in fact, are called to save this life in case of the threat of death. I’m talking about the symptoms of fast heartbeat, fast breathing, the sense of fear and panic (which are initiated by adrenaline rushes). As I described in the article the symptoms of panic attacks – all these are the protective mechanisms of our body.
And derealization has the similar protective function.
One of the western researches figured out that in average 50% of people experienced traumatic event have the symptoms of derealization. Most likely you’ve heard the stories of people who were in dangerous, stressful situations and described their experience as: “It seemed to me that it was happening not with me”, “As if it was in a dream”. These are the symptoms of derealization. Our mind “closes”, so to say, from potentially traumatic feelings. That’s why we feel that what is happening is more similar to a dream, that it is happening not with us. Here we can state the following conclusion:
Derealization and depersonalization are not dangerous in themselves. They are just protective mechanisms of our mind that aspire to “close” from unpleasant feelings.
And this state can be overcome. I will now explain how.
The first tip – overcome the vicious circle of anxiety
As I have already written, very often people (especially people with panic attack and anxiety) begin to have strong apprehension concerning their condition: the may make up scared illnesses, fear the harm that could be done by derealization.
Firstly, I will remind that this state is totally safe. Secondly, as we remember, there is often only one of the symptoms of anxiety. So what does it mean? It means that when you start worrying about the symptoms of derealization, you provoke new attacks of panic or anxiety, which, in their turn, increase derealization!
So relax and try to let go of your thoughts of your condition. If derealization came, then, it came. You are “in this boat”, so there is no sense in worrying and getting worked up. Relax and try to accept this state. Don’t try to be opposed to it or to fight against it. It is temporary. It will go as it came.
You should aspire to this even though it is difficult. People with chronic anxiety have such anxious mind that it tends to worry constantly for any reason. When there is no reason, mind finds it. In the beginning it is very difficult to break this crusted habit and help yourself to relax and stop worrying. Nevertheless, it is possible. The following tips will partly consider this problem.
The second tip – develop concentration
Psychologists give the following piece of advice.
If you like reading then most probably you plan what to read in future. (And if you don’t love it’s high time to start) My personal plan consists of a lot of books that are not very exciting, could be even boring, but, however, I think that I should read them. It could be historical, scientific book or even serious, profound, but not exciting fiction. Read such books.
Try to keep your attention on the text (which will “slide off” since text is not interesting) and move it back each time when you are distracted. First of all, it will develop your concentration and certain areas of brain, secondly, allow you to be closer to the area of feelings. After all, books stimulate your emotions, create images in your imagination, helping you to be closer to yourself.
The third tip – develop your awareness and sensitivity
In many of my articles, suggesting people to solve different emotional and personal problems, I give a piece of advice: “meditate”. So I’m not going to surprise you by originality and will give the same piece of advice to you. No, wait. There is a peculiar thing.
The more articles I write, the more people who suffer from anxiety and depression I work with and the more feedback I receive from them, the more I want to stop using the term “meditation”.
Not only because it reminds us (undeservedly) of something mystical, mysterious. With the development of scientific researches of meditation the understanding of that meditation is not a kind of magic, not a religion, but rather applied exercise more and more penetrates the world.
The reason why I want to refuse from this term is the following. When I tell “meditation”, people often perceive it as an end in itself. It seems to them that simple motionless sitting will solve all their problems. That’s why I decided to write more about “techniques of mindfulness, attention, concentration development”. From such statements it is clear that meditation is not an end in itself, but just a tool and a means for something bigger.
Western psychologists agree that mindfulness helps in getting rid of derealization. The sensation caused by practices of mindfulness is opposite to that a man experiences during derealization. During derealization our attention is “dispersed”, mind is shrouded in some fog of semi sleep, it is unable to grasp an object clearly and accurately, the object becomes vague, as if faded, and our emotions are somewhat distant from us.
But during the practices of mindfulness, we, on the contrary, sharpen our attention so that it could perceive the object more clearly, as if we focus our lens of an objective, increasing acutance of the picture of the world. We also try to be aware of our own sensations, becoming closer to them.
What do you actually need to do? Your practice will consist of two parts.
“Informal” Meditation. Mindfulness during your day to day activities
Practice mindfulness throughout the day. Try to pay more attention to your actual sensations. You can do this, for example, while eating. Instead of thinking of other things, “moving away” from your feelings, focus on the taste of the food in your mouth, on the sense of how it passes through your body and comes into the stomach.
What do you feel in your mouth? Sweetness, bitterness? Heat or cold? What is the taste of the food? What do you feel in your stomach? Heaviness or lightness? Just be with your sensations here and now. Get closer to the field of actual experience. Once your thoughts are distracted from the moment of “here and now”, return them back.
The same principle is applied to other daily activities: washing dishes, cleaning, exercising, any physical labor, walks. At least try not to allow your mind wandering during a small part of your day. Try to be here and now with what is experienced by your organs of senses: taste, smell, colors, tactile sensations and sounds. By doing this you will sharpen and train your attention, returning yourself to a clear and direct perception of life.
Formal practice. Sitting meditation
Formal meditation – is the very sitting meditation, during which you are trying to concentrate on a single object, for example, breathing. There’s no magic at all. Meditation – is a training machine for your attention, your awareness, your self-control, your sensitivity to sensations.
When you meditate, you focus your attention on the object, sharpen the focus, so to say. Thanks to it, your feelings, experience acquire greater clarity, emotions become brighter and more vivid. This is, again, the opposite of derealization, the consequence of which is that the emotions are becoming dull and fade.
There is a stereotype that meditation is necessary to get rid of emotions, to become indifferent. This is not true. The goal of practice of mindfulness is to teach you to stay closer to your emotions, to know yourself better. And the practice leads to the fact that we start perceiving the life brighter and more intense, in deeper and more distinct colors.
But the meaning of meditation is not only to eliminate the derealization as a symptom. Practice will help to cope with the cause of derealization: anxiety, depression, traumatic experience.
I have written above that many people have such a restless mind, that it is very hard for them to relax, pull themselves together during the attacks of an anxiety. Once emotions and disturbing thoughts come, they immediately overpower them, pulling them deeper into the maelstrom of panic and anxiety.
Meditation allows us to relax our mind, take control of anxiety, let go of obsessive thoughts. And gradually move step by step towards the full getting rid of panic, fear and anxiety. You can learn easy meditation technique after reading the article: how to meditate properly.
I will give the following piece of advice regarding meditation to people who experience the symptoms of derealization. Choose the sensations that appear in the area of the nostrils while breathing as an object of concentration. Why? Because the sensations there are very subtle and sometimes barely perceptible. It means that in order to feel them you need, so to say, to “sharpen” your own attention, to focus the lens of your inner objective. Thereby your sensitivity to your own sensations will intensify. After I gave this advice to one of my readers, who suffered from derealization, she wrote:
“I want to share my sensations with you. Last evening and this morning I was meditating concentrating on the sensations in the nostrils, as you recommended. It is incredible)) After two sessions of meditation I have an energy surge and exhilaration. More “sharpened”, so to say, perception of the world around. It seems to me that I hear sounds, feel the reality more clearly. As if coming sounds are clearer now) I think this is just what you were talking about, the opposite of brain fog and mental clouding. I will continue the practice. Thank you again for your advice!)”
As I have written above, derealization is a consequence of other problems. When your anxiety is gone, then derealization will disappear as well. Therefore, I advise you not to aim your efforts to the fighting against the particular symptom, but to finding the solution of the general anxiety problem.