Unreality, Depersonalization, Derealization

The creepiest of all feelings from excessive anxiety and panic attacks is the sensation of unreality. It can be best described as a sensory alteration of your perception where you almost feel outside of yourself but with an emptyness that borders on depression. Ugh! I hated those feelings. But they are TEMPORARY.

What are they? During high anxiety, excessive worrying, constant fretting, persistent panic attacks, constant fear, the nervous system gets physically (and maybe emotionally) exhausted. There is a build up of stress chemicals (e.g., cortisol) at the neurotransmitter synapses – possibly serotonin and norepinephrine levels are disrupted – that may exert a slight delay in processing information between the mind and the body, between thoughts and action. What is interesting is that this same delay or altered perception is similiar to the effects of THC from marijuana. Quite a few people have noticed this. It is known that THC also acts as a delay on neurotransmitters. ANYWAY, the sensation is one of delayed perception under tension. Because the anxious person is very mindful of places and situations where fear arises, the brain imprints the situation for protection’s sake and the hormonal trail stays active and alert. This explains why when a person “checks” to see if he/she still feels the unwanted sensation of “unreality”, that the body is able to recreate the sensation as part of the “test.” Being afraid of “unreality” and constantly analyzing it to decipher it are then definitely ways to keep the sensation going strong.

There is a fine line between “wanting to get rid of the ‘unreality’ feeling” so much so that you can taste it, and toleration. The desire to be rid of the sensation will be adding stress and fear that actually maintains the feeling. Since our brains, i.e., our nervous system, cannot process all this stress at once and delays are inevitable – think of “unreality” as your nervous system FORCING relaxation on you – forcing you to slow down and to let up. In that way it becomes a protection circuit by the nervous system against further tension. But we don’t look at it that way? Nope! We experience it and assign a terrible and horrible outcome from it, assuming it is a “sign” of impending insanity and loss of control. What is the best way to approach these awful sensations? It is certainly stress related. Would you feel “unreal” while lying on the beach next to a supermodel (male or female – your choice) who was totally attracted to you? I don´t think so! Your “unreality” would not exist in that situation because why? You would forget about it and not be focusing so intensely on it. There is your answer. You can HATE the “unreal” feeling but acceptance is a must to break the habit of adding more stress to it.

Just accept whatever happens. Unreality/DP/DR are temporary in nature. They only stay alive by your fear of them. Like panic, two elements are required for keeping the weird sensations of unreality going – tension and doubt. Letting the sensation go on without making attempts to stop it, hide from it, panic over it – really is the way to lose it. And the proof is here writing this. I had these sensations many times. But no more.