About DPRD

The next few pages will tell you everything you need to know about Depersonalisation Derealisation Disorder; what it is, potential causes and available treatments.


What is Depersonalisation/Derealisation?

Depersonalisation and/or Derealisation is a defence mechanism that the mind employs to help it to cope with too much stress. Many people will experience feelings of Depersonalisation and/or Derealisation at some point in their lives. Feelings of Depersonalisation and Derealisation can be triggered by stress, a traumatic event or substance use. For some people, these feelings may last minutes or hours but will they will eventually pass. For other people, feelings of Depersonalisation and Derealisation can be recurring or can last much longer. These people may be experiencing Depersonalisation Derealisation Disorder (DPRD).

What does DPRD feel like?

Depersonalisation Derealisation Disorder (also known as DPD, DPRD, DPDR) can be described in many different ways but essentially, it is a persistent feeling of being disconnected from your own body (Depersonalisation) or feeling disconnected from the world around you (Derealisation).

You may be experiencing Depersonalisation Derealisation Disorder if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

Depersonalisation symptoms

  • Feeling like a ‘robot’

  • Feeling that you're not in control of your speech or movements

  • Feeling like you are an outside observer of your own mental processes

  • Feeling like you are ‘outside’ of your body or parts of your body

  • Emotional or physical ‘numbness’

Derealisation symptoms

  • Feeling as if you are living in a dream or a movie

  • Feeling as though you are ‘in a bubble’ or ‘behind glass’

  • Feelings of being alienated from or unfamiliar with your surroundings

  • Your surroundings appear distorted, blurry, two-dimensional or artificial, or alternatively, a heightened awareness and clarity of your surroundings

  • Distortions in your perception of time

  • Distortions of distance and of the size and shape of objects around you

It is important to remember that symptoms of Depersonalisation Derealisation Disorder can be different for each person. The symptoms can also be hard to describe. If you don’t recognise your symptoms in the above list, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t experiencing it.

Here are some ways that people describe their experiences of DPDR:

The first time I experienced Depersonalisation was after a very stressful and sleepless few days. I was sitting on the sofa when I suddenly felt as though I had left my own body. My arms and legs felt numb. I looked down at my hands and it was as though I was looking at someone else’s body. I was so frightened, I thought I was going mad or that I was going to die. It is the most terrifying experience I have ever had.

After that initial experience, I had recurring episodes but they never felt as intense as that first one. Now I understand my symptoms I’m not so afraid of them anymore. I understand it is just a strange way of my brain trying to protect me from trauma.
— Heather

It is a feeling of being fundamentally wrong in my own body. It is an otherworldly experience. The feeling was of having left myself completely, constantly trying to grasp on to reality.

The best image I could come up with was that I was a little man sat in the back of my head, with the controls, and I could see the inside of my skull and I was looking out of these two eye sockets. When I first spoke to my dad, the words I used were: ‘I’ve gone mad. It’s finally happened, I’ve gone mad.
— Jane

I’ve suffered from chronic Depersonalisation for 12 years now. In addition to the feelings of unreality, it’s made me very emotionally numb. I’ve always been a very motivated person but it’s become harder to justify doing even the smallest things over the years. When everything you do feels dreamlike, believing there’s light at the end of the tunnel can be hard.

The good news is that there’s a huge sense of community for DPRD sufferers, which has really helped me in recent years. Just talking to somebody who understands what the struggle is like can be hugely comforting. Knowing the other person just ‘gets it’ really helps me to feel less isolated & alone.
— Joe

If you think you are experiencing Depersonalisation Derealisation Disorder and the symptoms are affecting your day-to-day life, you may want to seek some treatment.

What causes DPRD…