depersonalization treatment, advice & support

What is

A community and an advocacy organization for people with depersonalization (see "What is depersonalization?" below). DPO is a place where people who can't be heard anywhere else will not only be heard but understood and supported. We aim to provide the best support network for people with depersonalization anywhere in the world and the best advice on depersonalization treatment and recovery anywhere in the world. We hope to not only help people who already have the condition but raise awareness of depersonalization in the public consciousness and correct the paucity of knowledge in the medical community as well.

Currently, our main "attraction" is our large forum. The forum allows us to create a whole community for this underrecognized and undersupported condition. We hope it helps depersonalization sufferers from start to finish along the journey of understanding their condition, receiving treatment and, hopefully, recovering. Our forum has something to offer everyone who lives with this horrible condition, regardless of where they're at in their personal journey. Our forum - which is really your forum as well - contains priceless information for those seeking that elusive cure (though we prefer to call it a recovery rather than a cure).

DPO is run by people with a passion for helping people and a direct connection to depersonalization (most of us have it ourselves). We're always looking for ways to expand and new ways to serve people who suffer with depersonalization. Future projects are likely to include a Wiki with contributions from experts.

Understanding, support, recovery...

We provide a safe environment for people who are only just discovering depersonalization and putting a name to their suffering to come to terms with what can be an overwhelming or devastating realization. Public awareness about depersonalization is staggeringly poor (something that we aim to change). Sadly, even amongst medical professionals, depersonalization sufferers can face a huge amount of ignorance and apathy. The experiences of people when they first discover that they have depersonalization can be alienating and isolating. But you're not alone. We understand you.

With over 300,000 posts on our forum and some very friendly, knowledgeable members, we hope that everyone who suffers with depersonalization can find valuable support and advice on DPO. We have experts on the treatment of depersonalization who can explain your treatment options and guide you down the right path. Our forum contains a giant bank of information on both psychological and psychiatric treatment, as well as self-help steps to managing your depersonalization that you can get started with right away.

 What is depersonalization?

The Wikipedia artlcle on depersonalization is remarkably poor. A PsychCentral encyclopaedia article contains the following clinical definition:

People who are suffering from depersonalization feel separated from their surroundings and their own physicality, meaning that their own feelings, emotions, bodily sensations and movements feel detached from themselves. These symptoms are very disturbing...

As a broad starting point, this definition is acceptable but it remains too weak and non-specific and doesn't do justice to the actual experience.

Imagine being stuck inside a small glass box 24 hours a day wherever you go. Imagine feeling as if you're about to float away or disappear into thin air because you have no human body to tether you to the real world. Imagine being unable to hold a real conversation because you can't interpret the other person's words or register what they're saying. Imagine exchanging eye contact with a loved one and seeing nothing but a 2D comic-book image, devoid of emotion or meaning. Imagine seriously considering whether or not you might have died because you're unable to feel anything -- physically or emotionally. Imagine looking in the mirror and not recognizing the person staring back at you. We feel so separated from both our body and mind that our reflections might as well be different people.

The hypotheticals I gave you are all common descriptions of different people's experiences of depersonalization. But it is not a condition of delusion as it may initially sound. We understand that our symptoms are part of our condition ("in our minds"). This fact can actually make depersonalization even harder to cope with. We know we love our friends and family so why can't we feel it? We know that our unreal sensations are a product of our brains so why can't we just change them? It seems like recovery should be very easy but it's actually very hard and can take a long time.

Depersonalization is far more common than most people believe. The vast majority of people will actually experience temporary, insignificant depersonalization at some point in their lives. Clinically significant depersonalization is more common than schizophrenia and at least as prevalent as bipolar disorder and is believed to be the third most common overall mental health problem behind only depression and anxiety. Clinically significant depersonalization spans a spectrum from mild to severe. Mild depersonalization can disrupt a person's life and ability to function optimally. Severe depersonalization can leave them barely able to function at all. In some severe cases, sufferers are no longer able to work (often, they get fired) and can no longer care for themselves properly. For all intents and purposes, the most extreme forms of depersonalization can render a person disabled (just as in severe cases of schizophrenia). Hopefully, you can see why more public awareness, professional awareness and research funding is desperately needed (this is one of our many goals).

If you're a new, newly-diagnosed or suspected sufferer, please read the Questions & Answers thread on the forum for more information aimed at sufferers. If you know someone with depersonalization or suspect they may have it. read our Supporting Sufferers article.