Let’s take a look at two of the symptoms that you don’t hear about too often when it comes to Derealization + Depersonalization: Fatigue & Muscle Pain.
DPDR sufferers often tend to get caught up in the mental aspects of the condition. Which is totally understandable -- the existential thoughts that often accompany it can be incredibly scary.
But what is sometimes less reported is the physical toll that it takes.
When I first developed Depersonalization and Derealization, I was completely overwhelmed by it (as everyone is!). It felt as if I'd been totally blindsided and subdued by this seemingly strange and mysterious condition.
It was only during my recovery that I realized the extent to which my own mental gymnastics had been a core part of the condition. The constant monitoring, evaluating, worrying. Questions like:
- Am I feeling better today?
- Am I making it worse by asking that question?
- Will I ever recover completely?
- Can I think my way out of this?
- Why has this happened to me???
...etc etc. It was never-ending!
You tend to get so caught up in these questions and self-monitoring that you forget completely that this is an abnormal, anxious behaviour.
Part of your brain's fight or flight response to stress and perceived trauma is racing thoughts and catastrophizing.
This means that your thoughts are going at full speed and jumping to worst-case scenario conclusions, all day long.
Again -- It's a natural and correct response to stress and anxiety. If you were in a life-threating situation, like being chased by a grizzly bear, it would be super helpful!
But it's NOT so helpful when you're at work, hanging out with friends or family, watching a film or reading a book.
When it happens persistently in that situation, it can feel like your concentration and memory are all over the place. Like you can't keep a thought together and you need to keep refocusing over and over and over!
And that's the important part:
And that your brain was not designed to work like this -- at least, not 24/7!
And as a result, it gets exhausted.
That quickly makes it more susceptible and less able to deal with anxiety properly -- creating depersonalization fatigue and making the condition seem even worse.
When DPDR sufferers talk about having issues with memory and concentration, they tend to jump to terrible conclusions about it. But the truth is that these issues with memory and concentration are typical symptoms of mental stress and exhaustion.
It's Depersonalization fatigue. DPDR is a condition that causes constant stress on the body and mind -- so of course it makes you tired!
And please note that while for the purposes of this article I'm primarily using the phrase Depersonalization Fatigue, this also covers fatigue and exhaustion from Derealization too.
Sure, it seems scary but what’s happening is a perfectly normal process and all of it will stop as you recover from anxiety and Depersonalization / Derealization.
Depersonalization and Sleep
Another factor that can contribute to feelings of exhaustion is the fact that Depersonalization and Derealization can often cause sleep disruption.
This was something that I experienced intensely, back when I had DPDR. I had terrible trouble falling asleep at night, I could hardly get out of bed in the mornings.
And worst of all, I started to experience intense nightmares in which I was having panic attacks and DPDR episodes.
I still remember that so clearly, as it was one of the worst moments in all of my time with Depersonalization and Derealization. It genuinely felt like there was no escape from these horrible feelings, even in my sleep!
But as I realized when I recovered, there was nothing to worry about. Why? It's very simple:
You dream about what you think about.
It's the same reason that people who spend lots of time playing Minecraft often have dreams.... about Minecraft!
It's your brain doing what it's supposed to do -- Process the thoughts you've had during the day. That's all!
Sure, when you dream about anxiety and DPDR, it's may not be pleasant and it may temporarily disrupt your sleep.
But those dreams are temporary, harmless, and will fade away and stop as your recovery continues.
Your sleep cycle will gets back to normal, and the feelings of exhaustion will also fade away and stop.
It's also super common for people with DPDR to develop headaches. I suffered from these myself, and often jumped to the conclusion that it must be some sort of terrifying condition.
But of course, that wasn't the case, and the explanation is actually very simple!
Depersonalization and Derealization are symptoms of anxiety. And what's one of the most common physical symptoms of anxiety?
And it's not just with DPDR. Across the board, with all anxiety-based conditions, headaches are extremely common.
Anxiety can cause a buildup of stress, lack of sleep, physical tension -- all of which can cause and exacerbate headaches.
So if you're experiencing headaches with DPDR? Don't worry -- they are a super common symptom of ALL anxiety-based conditions.
Depersonalization / Derealization and Muscle Pain
Another very common symptom with sufferers of anxiety and depersonalization is muscle pain and tension.
Again, I experienced this myself. About two or three weeks after developing DPDR, I began to feel a constant pain in my upper back and neck.
I promptly panicked, convinced that I must have some sort of horrendous muscular disease that was somehow linked to the DPDR.
But I needn't have worried. Why?
Because muscle tension is one of the most common symptoms not just of all anxiety-based conditions, but of anxiety and stress in general!
And really, it was no surprise at all that I was experiencing tension and pain in my neck and back muscles.
But in the midst of the catastrophizing and racing thoughts that come with anxiety, and without a proper medical perspective, it felt like something terrible was wrong.
But of course, nothing of the sort was happening.
I was just experiencing the feelings of exhaustion and muscle tension that are part and parcel of all anxiety-based conditions.
They can be frightening at the time -- but the important thing to remember is that they are all perfectly natural reactions to stress and anxiety.
They are harmless and temporary.
And most importantly?
They will all stop completely as your recovery continues.
Start your recovery from DP today
The Depersonalization Manual is the oldest and most trusted text on Depersonalization recovery available today. Written by a fully recovered sufferer with over 15 years experience of dealing with DP sufferers, it's been the trusted DP recovery program for more than 25,000 people worldwide.