OCD and Depersonalization Disorder
Understanding Dissociation, Depersonalization, and Derealization in relation to OCD
Depersonalization is when a person experiences a range of feelings, often causing the person to become alarmed due to their unfamiliarity. Such feelings can include feeling unreal, detached, and often feeling distant or out of touch with your own emotions. Some describe their dissociative symptoms like being always stuck in a jar, whereby they can see their life unfolding around them, but never feeling like they are truly experiencing it.
Derealisation is similar to depersonalization, but rather than the experience relating to the self, it refers to feeling out of touch with the environment. This can feel like you are always on auto-pilot rather than truly experiencing the ups and downs that ‘’real’’ life has to offer.
It is common to experience some form of the above from time to time, regardless of the quality of a person’s mental health. We all daydream, zone out for a minute, or get caught within the narrative inside our minds. These experiences can give a small insight into what it is like to live with a dissociative state. Of course, your average day to day experience of this is far less intense, alarming, and all-consuming.
Those that experience both anxiety and depressive disorders are much more likely to experience dissociation that the average person. Symptoms
of depersonalization are also synonymous with experiences such as panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, and Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder (OCD). There are also reports of people experiencing some form of dissociation concerning the practice of Meditation, as well as recreational drugs. It is also not uncommon for people to become afraid of dissociation symptoms, in turn exasperating the condition.
What are the causes of DD?
Although the exact causes are not known, there certainly appears to be somewhat of a consensus that stressful events make such symptoms worse. Blatant examples such as trauma can often lead to dissociation, although other factors, such as general life stressors, can indicate who develops such disorders. Also, due to the very nature of anxiety disorders, likely, the development of such disorders, such as OCD, social anxiety, or generalized anxiety, can be very stressful in themselves, leading to the onset of dissociative symptoms. It also seems that if a person spends large amounts of time performing mental rituals, such as neutralizing, psychological problem solving, and ruminating, this can lead to increased dissociation.
How common is it to experience some form of Dissociation?
Almost everyone experiences dissociative symptoms from time to time; however, it is believed that around 2.5% of the general population will experience it in such a way that it can be classified as a disorder.
How can our Program help?
Some of the main therapeutic techniques that are used to treat Dissociation include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) and talking therapy, all of which are included in our treatment programs. Although we do work with dissociation as a stand-alone condition, this is usually present when treating both OCD and trauma.
One of the most significant components of OCD that seem to impact the development of Dissociation is rumination. When a person spends considerable amounts of time performing mental compulsions, the person’s attention becomes mostly insular. This focus seems to link with the exasperation of both OCD and increased feelings of dissociation. If this isn’t the case, then it is likely that some form of physiological trauma is present.