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Depersonalization (DP) and derealization (DR) are considered to be dissociative symptoms, which can occur on their own, or alongside other disorders. It is often a result of past trauma, but can also come about after experiencing prolonged stress and anxiety.

Essentially, depersonalization is feeling divorced from your sense of self ? that feeling that you’re watching yourself do things, or that you’re not in your body. Derealization is a state in which the things ? or even people ? around you do not feel real.

Chronic DP/DR is classified as a dissociative disorder, which can occur on its own, but is often comorbid with other conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. It often comes about from severe traumatic events, but can also be a result of prolonged stress and anxiety. DP/DR ? when not induced by drugs, alcohol, or another health condition ? is thought to be a coping mechanism of the brain that gets “switched on” in order to allow to brain to experience stress or trauma less intensely. (This is why it’s a common occurrence during panic attacks.)

However, it’s important to note that DP/DR can happen even when you do not feel particularly stressed or upset. Sometimes, when it comes on unexpectedly like this, it can feel even more disturbing.

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