The good news is that depersonalization and derealization caused by anxiety are not actually dangerous, even if it feels particularly distressing. For most people who do not have a chronic dissociative disorder, these states eventually pass. The best thing to do is not fight it, since this can cause more stress or panic and feed the cycle of anxiety and DP/DR.
Here’s what’s been helpful for me and others I know who experience DP/DR:
Take a deep breath or practice breathing exercises.
Focus on mindfulness and whatever’s going on in the present moment ? this can help keep you “grounded.”
Practice regular meditation and yoga. These activities increase your awareness of your own body and mind, which can help to prevent that disconnected feeling. Additionally, over time, yoga and meditation can greatly aid in emotional healing and recovery from anxiety disorders.
Try to keep busy. Many people report that they don’t struggle with DP/DR as much when they’re busy. It tends to be more common when you’re alone or not doing anything in particular.
Avoid alcohol and other drugs, as they typically intensify the feelings of DP/DR.
Make sleep a priority ? fatigue also intensifies dissociative states.
Reach out to someone you trust. We are often hesitant to talk about these feelings because we don’t want people to think we’re “crazy,” but maintaining a connection with others is important to prevent further withdrawal from reality.
Explore these issues with a therapist
My personal favorite strategy: Accept what is happening, remind yourself that it’s just a little “glitch” in the brain, and even try to embrace it if possible. When derealization kicks in for me, I like to go for a long walk, preferably in the woods or someplace with a lot of natural beauty. I may feel like I’m walking in a dream, but usually by the time I get home, things feel real to me again. However, any physical activity can potentially have this effect ? go to the gym, dance, take a yoga class. These are all great options.
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