Derealization, similar to depersonalization, happens when you feel detached from the world around you. The difference between derealization and depersonalization is that the former is related to how you perceive your surroundings, while the latter is related to how you perceive yourself.
A person experiences derealization due to intense anxiety or stress and sometimes PTSD. You might feel disconnected from your surroundings, and everything may appear cloudy and misty. You might start to question your reality, and it can often lead to a panic attack.
Here are 12 ways to stop derealization and fight anxiety:
1 – Stopping derealization with mindfulness
One of the most effective ways to stop feelings of derealization is with the help of mindfulness. Mindfulness refers to techniques that help you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings. These techniques keep you grounded in reality, which is important when you feel like nothing around you is real.
Whenever you’re experiencing derealization and anxiety, touch something hot or cold and focus on how it makes you feel. Touch the ground or the wall if you’re in a room and remind yourself that whatever it is you’re touching is real and it’s making you feel something. Look for a certain object and make mental notes about what it is and what it does. These things will force you to stay grounded in reality.
2 – Don’t focus on a single thought when you feel detached
When you experience derealization, you feel disconnected from your surroundings, and it feels as if you can only focus on a single thought. You’ll see something that doesn’t seem real, and you’ll keep thinking about it, and you won’t be able to interrupt your train of thought.
When that happens, you have to keep your eyes moving and make sure you force yourself to think about something other than what’s causing you to experience feelings of derealization.
3 – Bringing yourself back to reality
If you are experiencing derealization and find no one that can help you in this condition. Try to use it anyway so that you can bring yourself back to reality. The simplest thing is to pinch on back of your hand. Hold something in your hand that is cold or moderately warm. Try to divert your attention to the sensation of temperature. You can also count or name different items around your surroundings. Try to keep your eyes moving; it can help you stay in contact with reality and not zone out.
4 – Focus on your five senses to stop derealization
When you feel detached, a good way to bring yourself back to reality is to rely on your five senses. Start with your sense of taste. Find something you can eat or drink and focus on the taste of whatever it is you’re eating or drinking. If you experience derealization feelings frequently, you should keep a mint on you at all times as the taste of mint (or anything, really) can help keep you grounded in reality.
Then focus on your sense of smell. You can either try smelling something you’re eating, or you can focus on the smell of something in your surroundings. After the smell, you move on to your sense of touch. Find something in your surroundings and feel the texture. Tell yourself how the texture feels and how it makes you feel. Next is your sense of hearing. Focus on the sounds you hear in your surroundings. What do they sound like, and how do they make you feel? You can also try listening to music you like. Last is your sense of sight. What do you see around you? Identify some objects and describe them to yourself.
5 – Remind yourself that it’s okay
Often, people tend to freak out when they experience feelings of derealization because they don’t know what’s causing it and how they can stop it. If you don’t have any underlying illness, then derealization is probably a symptom of anxiety or prolonged stress. It’s helpful to remind yourself that whenever you experience it. Having derealization and feeling detached doesn’t mean you’re insane; it’s your body’s reaction to excessive stress and anxiety. It’s a sign that you’re not giving your body enough time to rest!
6 – Coping with stress to stop derealization
Stress and anxiety are the two major causes of derealization. If you have frequent derealization episodes, then your body is trying to tell you that you need to give it some rest. Have you been working too much? Pulling all-nighters so you can get straight A’s on your finals? These things are important, but they’re not worth damaging your mental and physical health over.
Make a schedule so you can organize your life and keep the stress at bay. Add some self-care routines to your plan. Don’t work yourself to death and find some time to relax every day.
7 – Talk to a friend to distract yourself
If you experience derealization feelings when you’re with a friend, start talking to them about random things so you can distract yourself. Having someone who understands your condition would be helpful, but even if you’re with doesn’t know you suffer from derealization, they can still help you by just talking and keeping you engaged in conversation.
You can also hold your friend’s hand to keep yourself grounded in reality. Most people know what it’s like to feel disconnected and zone out so you won’t be judged, and no one will think you’re weird.
8 – Distract yourself with physical activities
Another great way to distract yourself from derealization and anxiety is by doing physical activities regularly. Exercising and running regularly will not only keep your mind distracted, but they will also help you relax more easily. It’s a good way to deal with both stress and derealization.
Physical activities will keep you physically and mentally healthy, and you’ll be able to have more control over your body. You won’t have to worry about losing control when you’re feeling detached and having an episode of derealization.
9 – Keep a journal to cope with derealization
Write about things that make you anxious and stressed. When you experience derealization, and it passes, writes about how you reacted to it and what was on your mind when it was happening. Figure out how you can control your reaction the next time it happens, and most importantly, remind yourself that, just like the last time, it’ll pass after a while, and it won’t cause you any harm.
You can read your notes to understand your reaction to derealization and what things caused you to feel detached from your surroundings. Having written notes that explain your behavior will give you more clarity, and you can show these notes to a therapist who will help you overcome feelings of derealization.
10 – Don’t pay attention to it
The more attention you pay to your derealization feelings, the harder it will become for you to overcome them. You have to tell your brain that these feelings can’t hurt you, and they’re insignificant. Focus on your reaction when it happens, and try not to panic. Don’t give it too much control, and you’ll notice that it’ll be less intense the next time it happens.
Derealization and anxiety can get worse if you let yourself lose control. The more you think about how your surroundings are unreal, the more anxious you’ll get. You have to remind yourself that what you’re experiencing is normal, and it’ll pass without causing you any harm.
11 – Medications for derealization
There are no medications that can fully cure derealization, but there are some that can make your episodes less intense. Of course, you should always talk to your doctor first before you start taking any medications and make sure you don’t do any drugs or drink alcohol to make anxiety worse and cause you to experience derealization more frequently.
If you have depression, which is very common among people who experience derealization, you can take SSRIs like sertraline, fluoxetine, and citalopram. Derealization can often make people feel numb, a common symptom of depression, and these SSRIs can treat symptoms found in depression and derealization. A combination of an SSRI and the mood stabilizer drug lamotrigine is usually prescribed to people who experience dissociative disorders like derealization and depersonalization. SSRIs are also given to people who suffer from anxiety.
Derealization isn’t a psychotic disorder, but sometimes doctors prescribe antipsychotic drugs as they’re effective at stabilizing mood and reducing anxiety symptoms.
12 – Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is the most effective treatment for derealization and anxiety. A therapist will talk to you about why you feel the way you do, and they’ll use a depersonalization-derealization disorder test to diagnose you. The Steinberg Derealization Questionnaire is usually used by therapists when diagnosing people with derealization.
Your therapist will help you regain control of yourself and change your thinking pattern. They will ask detailed questions about your disorder, and they will teach you techniques that you can use to stop yourself from feeling disconnected from your surroundings. Many people don’t feel comfortable talking about their symptoms, so if you’ve been keeping a journal, you can show that to your therapist.
Derealization is scary, but it’s a harmless symptom of anxiety. There are lots of techniques that you can use to cope with it, and therapy is the most effective one. Remind yourself that it can’t hurt you so your brain can understand that it’s not as important as it thinks it is. Make sure you don’t work too much, or you’ll experience burn out which can lead to derealization and anxiety, and most importantly, take care of yourself!
Moving forward with Psychotherapy
Fortunately, Ahealo.com offers a global ePsychotherapy platform that allows clients to book an online anonymous private appointment with a broad skill range of psychotherapists at an affordable cost and desired schedule.
Alternatively, if you need to seek psychotherapy, be sure to check out web.ahealo.com. Ahealo is an online psychotherapy platform with a diverse range of psychotherapists for many different fields of mental challenges. Ahealo provides ePsychotherapy at an affordable price, confidential, convenient (through a web page 1-1 private video call), and at your comfortable schedule.
With these options, we believe your depersonalization and anxiety problem can be resolved soon.
Take care and stay well.