July 14, 2024

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Signs that you may be experiencing derealisation and disconnection

Signs that you may be experiencing derealisation and disconnection

We still are far from completely understanding mental health concerns. Identifying the signs of derealisation has not been an easy task for mental health professionals and researchers.

While it has been classified as an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic Statistcal Manual, the symptoms may appear differently for each individual.

There can be many factors that lead up to this condition, ranging from anxiety to past traumatic experiences. Nevertheless, it can be scary to recognize that you’re feeling disconnected from the environment.


What is derealisation? Is it the same as depersonalisation?

Depersonalization and derealization are not the same, but they may exist together. (Image via Vecteezy/Federico Caputo)
Depersonalization and derealization are not the same, but they may exist together. (Image via Vecteezy/Federico Caputo)

This condition often falls under the bigger umbrella term of depersonalisation/derealisation disorder.

In this condition, an individual may experience depersonalisation disorder. Imagine that there are moments in the day when you’re detached from “who you are”. Yes, it’s difficult to think about how it would feel to be detached from your own identity.

This feeling is different from derealization, in which you feel a disconnect from the environment or people around you. That makes you feel that the envrionment around you is either made up, in a dream-like state or distorted.

How would it feel if your perception of the world turns into this? It’s indeed daunting, and these episodes can lead to significant disruption in social and psychological functioning.


What are the signs of derealisation?

What are the symptoms of derealization? (Image via Vecteezy/YES studio)
What are the symptoms of derealization? (Image via Vecteezy/YES studio)

Derealization is a complex condition, but you don’t have to necessarily deal with it alone.

A mental health professional can psychoeducate you about the common symptoms and the ones that are close to you. One of the primary symptoms of derealisation is a change in perception. As mentioned before, it becomes difficult to determine what you’re seeing versus what it really is. Your perception may become distorted.

This feeling can last for a few seconds, minutes or even hours. It’s difficult for individuals to snap out of it. Many may not even realise how much time has passed for them.

Remember that as it’s a disconnection from the envrionment, even time is a big factor. Metaphorically, individuals with traumatic experiences may experience derealisation for a long duration, as they’re internally stuck at a point in their life.

If a person becomes aware of this feeling, they may experience intense bouts of anxiety and worries. It can be scary to know that the present changes for them, and they may worry about what they missed.

That can especially be distressing because others around that individual may not completely understand what’s happening. Finally, due to the perceptual disconnect, you may also experience an emotional distance from your environment.

Some individuals may derealise after seeing something shocking. That’s why some of us go into a state of shock and emotional numbness.


The first step towards disorder management is the awareness of the signs and symptoms. By learning about the signs, you can help yourself or someone else around you who may be experiencing derealisation.

While it’s difficult to say if we have a cure for derealisation, the condition may be managed if the triggers are clearly known. It may be helpful to recognize what is maintaining these perceptual and psychological distortions.

Try to engage in tools and techniques that help you establish a connection to the present and your external reality.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master’s degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.


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