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Panic, Depression, DPDR

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I’m 31 years old, and ever since I was 16 when I tried Marijuana for the first time, I have had reoccurring bouts with what I would call severe panic, then this panic leads to a few months of feeling like only my head is my body, and my arms feel like there distorted and long, I feel like my brains not believing what my eyes are selling and because of this I feel an intense sensation of my heart dropping and then a rush up my neck and feel as if I’m in another dimension, it is so insanely terrifying that I can’t even feel the physical symptoms of my heart rate or sweating until after I’ve calmed down, after these episodes I shiver and then constantly worried about the next one. During this time nothing matters to me except my reality, I constantly question if anything described is what I have because it is so severe it feels like no one has gone through this. But this last episode in November of 2019 has been the worst of my life, I’ve all of a sudden gained phobias of certain foods because I’m afraid it might make it worse, and I know it’s crazy. I’m 5’11”; and I was 330 lbs but in 2 months I’ve lost 40 lbs because of it. I’ve also stopped taking my meds for pain because I’m scared of them making me euphoric and so I’m going through withdrawals while dealing with this. It’s right to the point of being unbearable. I can’t even take antibiotics because I’m so terrified of it affecting my state. My question is, does this seem like a type of schizophrenia or psychosis? No one in my family has been diagnosed with mental illness except for panic attacks. Thank you.

Panic, Depression, DPDR

Answered by on -

A.

Thanks for your email. Depersonalization disorder (DPD), also known as depersonalization/derealization disorder (DPDR) happens when someone feels disconnected from themselves. The depersonalization, panic, and paranoia symptoms you are describing all seem to be pointing back to a shift in your sensorium that gets interpreted as a loss. In other words, each time you take a drug, or have an intense body sensation or feel dissociated from your body you are fearing you will lose yourself. Your description has three features I think deserve attention.

First, I would schedule an appointment with a neuro-psychologist, neurologist, or psychiatrist so that the entirety of your experiences (including the use of pain medicine and marijuana) can be reviewed. Secondly, once you have a better handle on what activates these experiences and why—I will encourage you to begin regular individual therapy so the process of talking and discussing these feelings can happen on a regular basis.

Finally, I would recommend yoga therapy as a way to help integrate your mind and body experiences and specifically to help with the anxiety.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Panic, Depression, DPDR

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). Panic, Depression, DPDR. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/02/15/panic-depression-dpdr/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Feb 2020 (Originally: 15 Feb 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Feb 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.