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Is this Derealization?

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From the U.S.: I’ve had extreme depressive lows with suicidal thoughts for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed with anxiety as well as depression when I was 16. On my 18th birthday my boyfriend slept with my best friend, but I stayed with him. He became very emotionally abusive towards me and I lost all my friends. I was more depressed than I had ever been in my life. We broke up right before I moved out of state for school. I was still suicidal and started drinking, doing drugs, and having casual sex very frequently. I failed most of my classes. I got a therapist who diagnosed me with ADD.

Then I moved across the country again. I’m doing a lot better in school now that I’m on Adderall. But I haven’t made a single friend in my new town, and I spend every day sitting on my couch on the internet. This winter, I got really depressed again and I haven’t really gotten out of it. I’ve been thinking a lot about suicide, though I’ve never come up with a plan.

I’m seeing a therapist and we talk a lot about my past traumas, but things have only been getting worse. This past week I started feeling suicidal, and suddenly I got into this weird trance where I felt like my body was far away, or I was seeing from the back of my mind. I’ve had this sort of feeling before, but it’s never been this strong and sudden. Ever since then, I’ve had a hard time falling asleep, I can’t get any work done, and I feel like I’m in a dream. I feel numb emotionally, and I keep noticing my fingers feel cold or numb. I also keep thinking more time has gone by than it has. I feel like I’m “looping” where I get stuck on a train of thought and can’t break out of it. I keep forgetting about things I need to do, even in the midst of doing them. It’s lasted for days now. Nothing feels real, and I’m really scared.

Is this depersonalization/derealization? Is it normal to experience this out of nowhere, long after a traumatic experience? How do I get past this to continue on with my life? I was doing so well, I don’t want to throw away my progress.

Is this Derealization?

Answered by on -


It’s very, very important that you talk with your therapist about this. What you are describing is not unusual in someone who is experiencing a trauma. It may be that you are being unintentionally retraumatized by talking about your past. It’s crucial that your therapist know this is happening so she or he can adjust the pace or focus of your treatment.

Please don’t see this as a set back. Therapy isn’t a cookbook process. It’s a give and take discussion between therapist and client that, over time, discovers how best to work through the client’s issues.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

Is this Derealization?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is this Derealization?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 7 Apr 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.