Depersonalization disorder symptoms include:
- Continuous or recurring feelings that you're an outside observer of your thoughts, your body or parts of your body
- Numbing of your senses or responses to the world around you
- Feeling like a robot or feeling like you're living in a dream or in a movie
- The sensation that you aren't in control of your actions, including speaking
- Awareness that your sense of detachment is only a feeling, and not reality
Other symptoms can include:
- The sense that your body, legs or arms appear distorted, enlarged or shrunken
- Feeling like you are observing yourself from above, as if you were floating in the air
- Feeling emotionally disconnected from people you care about
While episodes of depersonalization may last only a short time, some people with depersonalization disorder have episodes that last hours, days, weeks or even months at a time. In some people these episodes turn into ongoing feelings of depersonalization that may periodically get better or worse.
When to see a doctor
Passing feelings of depersonalization are common, and aren't necessarily a cause for concern. But ongoing or severe feelings of detachment can be a sign of depersonalization disorder or another physical or mental health condition. See a doctor if you have feelings of depersonalization that:
- Are disturbing you or are emotionally disruptive
- Don't go away, or keep coming back
- Interfere with work, relationships or daily activities
- Depersonalization disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed May 2, 2011.
- Simeon D. Depersonalization disorder: A contemporary overview. CNS Drugs. 2004;18:343.
- Hunter ECM, et al. The epidemiology of depersonalization and derealisation. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 2004;39:9.
- Kihlstrom J, et al. Dissociative disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. 2005;1:227.