I have never had any type of mental issue until randomly about a week ago. I am a very mellow person and have not been dealing with much stress or any other problems and up until now I have been completely normal. All of a sudden last Tuesday my life has drastically changed mentally. All of a sudden I became extremely dazed and light headed to the point where I feel like nothing is real. I thought this was from sleep deprivation or a feeling that would pass but days later it hasn’t gone away. For some reason I am just constantly questioning my existence and what’s been going on and its freaking me out. Basically its as if nothing feels real. I want so desperately for this feeling to go away and I don’t know what to do. I’m not sure if its anxiety and if I need to go to the doctor or what but any advice would help thanks!

A. You may be experiencing derealization or depersonalization. Derealization is often associated with anxiety. People who experience derealization say they feel as though the external world is unreal. Depersonalization is also associated with anxiety disorders. People who experience derealization describe feeling as though they’re living in an “unreality” or that they are disconnected from their own feelings.

You also mentioned sleep problems. It’s possible that your symptoms are associated with sleep deprivation, depending on how much sleep you have lost. However, you stated that even after catching up on sleep these odd feelings remain.

Drug use is also associated with derealization and depersonalization. Marijuana in particular is often associated with the aforementioned symptoms. You did not mention any drug use but it may have been omitted from your letter.

The fact that you continue to experience these symptoms suggests that intervention is necessary. Your symptoms may be due to anxiety and if that is in fact the case, your anxiety requires treatment. Meet with a mental health professional and report your symptoms. A mental health professional will collect a full psychosocial history and determine the best treatment for your symptoms. Medication might also be helpful in elevating your symptoms. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog