Dissociation and Anxiety
Q:For the past 6 weeks I have felt continually anxious and worried, and have had frequent panic attacks. Some involve heart palpitations, squeezing of the chest and tingly arms. Others are a surge of negative energy, sending me into a frenzy and making me feel as if I am going insane. Lately, I have had trouble interacting with other people because I feel as if I am watching myself talk to them. My mind is constantly thinking about the fact that I am talking. How can this be treated???? I have talked with numerous social workers, counselors and psychiatrists.
Is depersonalization associated with anxiety? Do you have any behavioral suggestions, such as breathing exercises or phrases?? Please help!
A: We can't diagnose but depersonalization (also called dissociation, self induced trance state) can be part of an anxiety disorder, usually panic disorder. You're description of the 'negative' energy sounds like a panic attack...but as we have said we can't diagnose.
Have you been into our research section on our site? We did a study a few years ago which showed many people dissociated first and then panicked.
Quite a few people have the ability to dissociate very easily. Depersonalization is just one of a number of dissociative states. Usually we do this by staring, at the person we are talking to, the traffic lights, the road, out of the window, reading a book, watching tv, studying, staring at the walls etc.
To break the dissociative state you need to be aware that you are staring and break your gaze, blink or turn your head etc. As far as we are aware this is the only book on Panic Disorder which describes dissociation and the 'surges of energy' in relation to Panic Disorder and also teaches people how to control it. Have you seen a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist? A CBT therapist can teach you how to work with your thinking which will assist you in breaking the ongoing anxiety and can teach you how to manage you panic attacks.
Last Updated: 01 July 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD