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Depersonalization Disorder Causes

(Also Known As: Dissociative Disorder Causes, Dissociative Causes, Chronic Depersonalization Disorder Causes)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Causes Depersonalization Disorder?

As a symptom, depersonalization disorder can be experienced during attacks of panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or borderline personality disorder. An individual is only diagnosed with DPD when the episode of depersonalization takes place after a traumatic experience or panic episodes. 2

According to a 2002 study, emotional abuse during childhood has strong links with depersonalization disorder during adulthood. The diagnosis of 49 patients involved in the study reflected much higher scores than the control group for the total amount of emotional abuse experienced, as well as for the maximum severity of this kind of abuse. According to the researchers, emotional abuse has been completely ignored by psychiatrists in comparison with other childhood experiences.

It is worth mentioning that depersonalization disorder is among the manifestations of anxiety disorder and not an independent condition. A diagnosis of DPD will not be given if there is no anxiety involved. On the other hand, the latter is possible even without the former. However, recent advances in brain imaging and other kinds of neurological testing indicated that depersonalization disorder should be treated as an independent condition and not a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In the past few years, several attributes of depersonalization disorder has been linked to variations in brain processes. The findings of a study conducted by a group of British researchers discovered that the emotional isolation in depersonalization has something to do with reduced level of nerve cell reactions in the brain, which controls emotions.

In addition, a group of American researchers reached the conclusion that patients suffering from depersonalization disorder showed varying patterns in their reactions to tests conducted in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis region of the brain compared with sufferers from PTSD. The results of other tests conducted by the same group of researchers revealed a clear distinction of DPD patients compared to those suffering from major depression.

Using positron emission topography (PET) in measuring glucose metabolism in different regions of the brain revealed that depersonalization disorder may have been caused by the abnormal processes in the sensory cortex. This part of the brain controls the sense of sight, hearing, and perception.

Modern day research has also linked depersonalization disorder with changes in how people see themselves in Western cultures. Prior to the 1780s, there were no records of dissociative disorders compared to depression and other mental illnesses. However, variations in the structure of the family and society may have triggered an individual’s vulnerability to self disorders.

Sleep deprivation or depression increases the likelihood of depersonalization disorders. Laboratory experiments yielded similar manifestations among volunteers who took part in sleep deprivation studies.

Could You Have Depersonalization Disorder?

Depersonalization Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Anxiety Disorder NOS – Uncontrolled Anxiousness, Irrational Fear, Excessive Worry, Phobia
Borderline Personality Disorder – Dissociation, Mood Instability, Impulsiveness
Dysthymic Disorder – Mood Disorder, Anxiety, Chronic Depression, Insomnia
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Nightmares, Insomnia, Sexual Abuse, Irritation, Social Impairment, Problems with Memory and Concentration, Intrusive Memories, Hyper-Vigilance