The person has persistent or recurrent experiences (episodes) of feeling detached from one’s surroundings, mental processes, or body (e.g., feeling like one is in a dream, or as if one is looking at themselves as an outside observer).
In the case of depersonalization, the individual may feel detached from his or her entire being (e.g., “I am no one,” “I have no self”). He or she may also feel subjectively detached from aspects of the self, including feelings (e.g., hypoemotionality: “I know I have feelings but I don’t feel them”), thoughts (e.g., “My thoughts don’t feel like my own,” “head filled with cotton”), whole body or body parts, or sensations (e.g., touch, proprioception, hunger, thirst, libido). There may also be a diminished sense of agency (e.g., feeling robotic, like an automaton; lacking control of one’s speech or movements).
Episodes of derealization are characterized by a feeling of unreality or detachment from, or unfamiliarity with, the world, be it individuals, inanimate objects, or all surroundings. The individual may feel as if he or she were in a fog, dream, or bubble, or as if there were a veil or a glass wall between the individual and world around. Surroundings may be experienced as artificial, colorless, or lifeless. Derealization is commonly accompanied by subjective visual distortions, such as blurriness, heightened acuity, widened or narrowed visual field, two-dimensionality or flatness, exaggerated three-dimensionality, or altered distance or size of objects, termed macropsia or micropsia.
During the depersonalization or derealization experience, the person remains somewhat in touch with their present reality.
The depersonalization causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
The depersonalization experience does not occur exclusively during the course of another mental disorder, such as Schizophrenia, Panic Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, or another Dissociative Disorder, and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., temporal lobe epilepsy).
Diagnostic code 300.6, DSM-5.
Psych Central. (2014). Depersonalization / Derealization Disorder Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/depersonalization-derealization-disorder-symptoms/
Symptom criteria summarized from:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 May 2014
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