Tests and diagnosis
To be diagnosed with depersonalization disorder, you must meet the symptom criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions. To be diagnosed with depersonalization disorder, you must have the following signs and symptoms:
- You have persistent or recurrent experiences of feeling detached from your thinking, emotions or your body. You may feel like an outside observer watching yourself, or as if you were in a dream.
- During the depersonalization experience, you are aware that the experience is not "real."
- Depersonalization causes significant distress or interferes with your social life, job, or other important areas of your life.
- The depersonalization experience isn't directly caused by another mental disorder, such as schizophrenia, panic disorder, acute stress disorder, or another dissociative disorder, and is not due to the direct physiological effects of alcohol, drugs or a medical condition (such as epilepsy, for example).
Your doctor will want to make sure your feelings of depersonalization aren't due to some other disorder, such as depression, schizophrenia or epilepsy. You may need further evaluation or tests to rule out these and other causes.
- 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.