Depersonalization disorder (DPD) can be a debilitating and chronic condition, but full recovery is possible. To achieve this, it is important to address the multiple underlying factors that contribute to the disorder. DPD is typically linked to disorganized attachment, emotional abuse, dysfunctional family systems, interpersonal trauma, chronic stress, exposure to traumatic events, obsessive and distorted thought patterns, and use of specific drugs such as marijuana and hallucinogens. Here are some steps to tackle each level of the disorder and help achieve a full recovery from depersonalization disorder:
Develop Earned Security
Disorganized attachment style is caused by suboptimal parenting, which can leave a child vulnerable to dissociation when facing stressful situations. To achieve a secure attachment style, one needs to acquire secure attachment, also known as autonomous attachment, which attachment therapists refer to as “earned security.” This can be done in adulthood to overcome disorganized attachment.
Engage in Emotional Expression to Overcome Emotional Abuse
Many people who suffer from emotional abuse are not even aware that the abuse occurred. One must become aware of the fact that they were emotionally abused in childhood, and then engage in emotional expression, or emotional discharge, to overcome it. Expressing suppressed emotions can often get rid of feelings of derealization.
Overcome the Legacy of Your Dysfunctional Family System
Most people suffering from depersonalization come from dysfunctional families. Dysfunctional families are typically characterized by one parent having a problem that all members of the family are forced to adapt to. It is hard for the children to develop a strong sense of self in these environments, and dissociation can become a way to cut off from pain. To overcome these issues, it is important to correct any co-dependence, enmeshment, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and narcissistic grandiosity that may have originated from the dysfunctional family system, and develop a more positive relationship with family members.
Become Assertive to Avoid Future Interpersonal Trauma
Assertive communication is important to learn for people with DPD as interpersonal trauma is often more severe than traumatic events. By becoming assertive, rather than submissive or aggressive, one can learn to interact with the social world in a healthy way.
Learn to Eliminate Chronic Stress
Anxiety is often related to DPD, so learning relaxation techniques like abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, peaceful visualizations, and paying attention to emotional needs is essential for reducing stress which fuels DPD. It is also crucial to take a break from goal-related activity, practice mindfulness meditation, and eliminate caffeine and other stimulants.
Heal a Wounded Self
In depersonalization disorder, a person’s sense of self is often ruptured. Co-dependence is where a person is addicted to changing others, rather than changing themselves. It is important to identify what part of one’s self has been disowned or suppressed due to shame or pain, and learn to reintegrate it into one’s sense of self.
Correct Obsessive and Distorted Thought Patterns
Learning distraction techniques, focusing on life goals, and avoiding philosophical issues are helpful in eradicating obsessive self-rumination and distorted thought patterns. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can also help overcome illogical thoughts as many people with DPD use emotional reasoning to justify their thinking.
Perceive the World as Normal
People with DPD often find things “strange” and “weird.” Realizing that everything in the universe is normal can help eliminate existential fear and anxiety.
Develop Goals and Accomplish Priorities
Developing personal goals and prioritizing tasks is important to generate a sense of purpose and groundedness in reality. Breaking tasks into small, manageable pieces, and tackling the most important priorities first is helpful in achieving what you want to accomplish.
In conclusion, tackling DPD at multiple levels is critical to achieving full recovery. While it may take time, with perseverance and support, those with depersonalization disorder can successfully overcome it and regain a fully integrated sense of self.
Written by Harris Harrington