• Some people experience a feeling of detachment from the self, a kind of unreality, something known as depersonalisation.
  • Severe and prolonged depersonalisation creates an anxiety loop and becomes a disorder, where the brain shows reduced activity in emotional responses.
  • Some factors that can lead to transient depersonalization are jetlag and sleep deprivation.

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How to cope when life seems unreal | Psyche Guides

psyche.co

Apart from trauma or panic attacks, a bad drug experience can trigger depersonalisation disorder, as a feeling of dying or going mad can cause extreme, lasting anxiety.

The most common cause is cannabis usage, where a bad trip can cause a feeling of losing one’s mind. 

Some people also report:

  1. Seeing the world from outside their bodies
  2. A feeling of extreme dizziness.
  3. Being stuck in a dream.
  4. Seeing everyone around them as robots.
  5. Altered time perception.
  6. Philosophical insights.
  7. Emotional withdrawal.
  8. Forgetfulness
  9. Blankness.

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Just like heart palpitations can be assumed to be heart attacks, the feeling of unreality can be misinterpreted as losing the mind or going crazy.

Not everyone can handle the strangeness of the meta-awareness that is experienced. One has to realize that meta-awareness isn’t a bad thing.

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Intrusive thoughts can be problematic if they are resisted. Psychologist Daniel Wegner coined the term ‘ironic process’, where the attempt to suppress certain thoughts gives them more power.

Example: If we try very hard not to think of a pink elephant, the image of a pink elephant keeps forming in our minds.

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To treat depersonalisation, one can focus on the sights and sounds around them, grounding themselves to reality, like watching TV or reading a book. One can be aware of their breathing and even start to learn something new, channelling the increased awareness.

Regular exercise helps a lot and one has to avoid caffeine, cannabis, and other stimulants. There is no need to panic!

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