Is Depersonalization Permanent?

No, Depersonalization is not permanent. Like other anxiety-spectrum conditions (like GAD and agoraphobia) it can persist if not addressed properly, but like those conditions it can be managed, reduced and stopped.

It’s the most frightening aspect of developing a condition like DPDR -- the possibility that it might last for the rest of your life. Looking through Depersonalization / Derealization Forums, you'll constantly see questions like:

How long does Depersonalization last?
Does Depersonalization ever go away?
Is Depersonalization permanent?
Will I just have to learn to live with Depersonalization forever?

When I first got DPDR, I remember finding bits of information here and there (mainly on DP forums) -- and realizing that this overwhelming, debilitating condition that had hit me out of nowhere could actually be permanent.

That no matter what I did, that I might never feel normal again. That was a truly terrifying thought to have.

And that thought only made the condition worse. Worse to the point that I was enduring multiple crippling panic attacks on a daily basis.

I think that of my two years with chronic DPDR, that was probably the worst time.

I just could not believe that only a few weeks previous I was a completely happy and healthy young man -- but now my life had somehow hit a wall and I was in constant terror.

It seemed impossible and so unfair. 

Is Depersonalization Permanent

Depersonalization Is Not Permanent

But when I look back at that time, after over 15 years of complete recovery, I think about it very differently.

Why would Depersonalization / Derealization be permanent? How could it be?

It’s just an anxiety-based condition, it's extremely common, and to imagine that it could cause some sort of permanent brain change is frankly ridiculous. 

But at the time, the fear that I had permanent Depersonalization / Derealization was crippling. And that fear was probably biggest cause of prolonging the anxiety -- and therefore DPDR -- in the first place.

It was all part of the feedback loop that kept the condition going in my head for two years

Is Depersonalization Permanent

Feelings Of Guilt

And what can make things even worse are feelings of guilt. If you think you have permanent Depersonalization / Derealization that you have somehow brought on yourself (i.e. through weed or other drugs), that’s a horrible scenario.

It’s one thing if you feel that you’ve just been unlucky, but if you think it’s actually your fault and you’re going to suffer for the rest of your life because of it, that’s even worse. 

The guilt and fear that you’re going through are likely to prolong what's in reality a simple anxiety-based symptom that up to 75% of people will experience at some time in their lives -- and that usually fades away in a few minutes.

Combine that with panicked research on forums and it’s the perfect storm for anxious thinking and the incorrect belief that that your Depersonalization and Derealization will last forever.

But Why Do Some People Have Depersonalization For Years?

If Depersonalization / Derealization is a temporary condition, why do people report having it for years, even decades?

Well, for the same reason that some people report having other treatable anxiety-spectrum conditions like OCD or Agoraphobia for years.

These are NOT permanent conditions. They only last as long as they're not properly dealt with.

But still, how could these people have not recovered? Well, one of the golden Cognitive Behavioral Therapy rules for dealing with any anxiety disorder is to discuss is as infrequently as possible.

The trick with any anxiety-based condition is that your brain doesn't want or need to keep it around. DP, just like every other symptom of anxiety, is designed to be a temporary measure.

Your attention is anxiety's oxygen. Anxiety needs your attention in order to exist. 

Otherwise, it fades away and disappears -- Which is something I bet you've experienced briefly, at times of distraction -- for example, when playing a video game or sports.

Is Depersonalization Permanent

Your brain doesn't need anxiety / DPDR around anymore.

Why would it? You're certainly not in danger and there is no need for your brain's fight-or-flight response to be active.

Your brain can and will switch off that response. But it's up to you to create the physical and mental space that will allow your brain to do that.

If you respond to feelings of anxiety and Depersonalization / Derealization by constantly researching it, discussing it and asking panicked questions on online forums -- guess what?

Your brain can't forget about it.

The feelings of DPDR are not allowed to fade away naturally, which is exactly what they're supposed to do.

When you see people on Depersonalization Forums saying "Does Depersonalization last forever...? I've had it for 10 years now" -- You can bet that those people have spent those years researching the condition constantly, posting about it, trying every possible medical angle.

I certainly don't blame them for doing that, I did the same thing for 2 years before I figured out that that it was only making things worse!

Like those people in the forums, I simply hadn't given myself a chance to recover.

Habits of Behaviour

So -- Is Depersonalization permanent? The answer is of course: No, Depersonalization is NOT permanent (and neither is Derealization!)

In the same way that it's entirely possible to manage and eradicate excess anxiety, it's possible to stop DPDR.

Can Depersonalization and Derealization go away? Yes, absolutely. But as I mentioned earlier, it's up to you to create the physical and mental space that will ALLOW it to go away.

I know that the feelings and symptoms can be frightening. Finding yourself suddenly unable to focus on your day-to-day life, and being instead consumed by thoughts like "Why do I feel like I'm not in my body?" can be really terrifying.

But it's very important to remember that DPDR is your brain's defensive system from perceived trauma.

It's actually trying to protect you from danger. It's perfectly natural, it's extremely common, and it's meant to last for only a few minutes at a time and then fade away.

The only reason it lasts longer than that is because you notice the feelings of 'unreality' and get alarmed by them, creating a feedback loop between the anxiety and DPDR (this is extremely common with drug-induced Depersonalization).

Once you stop that feedback loop, the anxiety will stop  -- and the feelings of Depersonalization and Derealization will fade away completely.

Which is what they were always supposed to do!




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.

Disclaimer: Please note that the medical information contained within this site, ebook, audiobook and related materials is not intended as a substitute for consultation with a professional physician and is not a recommendation of specific therapies.