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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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Im female- 29yrs of age. Sometimes I find myself over-thinking

Customer Question

I'm female- 29yrs of age. Sometimes I find myself over-thinking how I do everyday things... like how I'm using my hands to wash dishes, or how I wash my hair... It's almost this thought of... "wow, it's amazing how our bodies operate... how does my body just do this?' But it can feel like my body feels a little foreign to myself to. Hard to explain. I don't do it all the time... I normally just brush it off "if" my thoughts go there... but a few months back I was getting ready in my mirror. I was watching how I blew my hair dry and how I put my make up on... it was almost like I had this "disconnect" from myself. It was really bothersome. It made me anxious... and since that experience I've been sleeping terribly. I actually have insomnia. I guess I'm experiencing this underlining fear that there's something wrong with me for having experienced that. Is this normal?? I have had a very normal life. Nothing traumatic, abuse-wise, has happened to me. I've never done drugs EVER. I don't drink. I've always been a light sleeper and I have a 4 yr old and 2 yr. old that I've tended to at night over the last 4 1/2 yrs. (Alot of disturbed sleep) I know that the week that this happened my husband had been sick, waking me up alot at night with snoring and I had also gotten a cold and was waking a lot... I'm not sure if just having disturbed sleep could make someone experience what I experienced??
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 1 year ago.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Dear friend,

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I believe that I can help.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

The symptoms you described seem to fit in with the phenomenon called derealization, which is not a disorder itself but a symptom of various possible disorders or causes.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Derealization is an alteration in the perception or experience of the external world so that it seems unreal.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

It can be an outcome of sleep disturbance, or of anxiety, and can even be caused by an infection or other disturbance to the labyrinth of the ear.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Because of your history of interrupted sleep, it is a strong possibility that it is related to your lack of sleep.

Customer:

ok, so this seems like something that can happen to a normal person??

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You could try the herbal supplement, melatonin, which regulates your circadian sleep patterns.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

And yes, this can happen to a normal person.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You do hot have a history of trauma, abandonment or abuse, nor do you use alcohol or drugs.

Customer:

haha, ok... thank you.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

But, you don't get enough sleep.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You are very welcome.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I shall keep you in my prayers for better sleep and good health.

Customer:

yes, I can't take naps during the day either... I never have been able to since I've had kids... I wake very easily from sleep.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

If I don't get enough sleep I cannot function properly.

Customer:

I was hit by a car in a crosswalk when I was 17. I suffered a hit to the head. got a hematoma? I've always tried pushing through being tired... the week before this experience I was actually feeling faint and lightheaded... I had some blood work done. everything looked normal. may have been dehydration? I agree, sleep IS very important.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

In episodes of derealization familiar places or events may look alien, bizarre, and surreal.

Customer:

I've never done drugs.. I'm a strong believer- Christian. I've never need them!

Customer:

sometimes I feel funny around florecent lighting... can that add to it?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Chronic derealization may be caused by occipital–temporal dysfunction, which could have been caused by your accident. However, if yours is not chronic then it is more likely cause by the fatigue.

Customer:

I don't know that I experience that... just the couple of episodes a few months ago scared me cause I felt like when I was looking in the mirror... like i said, I just feel detached from myself.

Customer:

occipital–temporal dysfunction?

Customer:

Will I be able to hold on to this conversation once we're done talking? I may want to look back at it? I'm not sure how this works?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Yes. It will stay on the site. You can also copy it to WORD or save it.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I have more information for you so please don't leave.

Customer:

ok

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Fluorescent lighting can lower your melatonin level and mess with your circadian rhythms and case depersonalization and derealization. Look at this article:

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescent_lamps_and_health

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Now for your other question:

Customer:

can you experience fatigue just from a few days.. or a week of disturbed sleep?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

One night of disturbed sleep can do it.

Customer:

enough to bring about derealization even possibly?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Here is an advanced article on occipital frontal effects on derealization/depersonalization:

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1737835/

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Yes, one night's sleep deprivation could be enough.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

If you have been under fluorescents it would exacerbate the situation.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

If you have other anxiety that could add to it.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

These incidents are not making you dysfunctional and you still go about your business of caring for family, etc.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Just to make sure that there was no other damage to you as a result of you accident, you can always talk to your physician about the necessity of a brain scan, if you think you have more than an occasional incident.

Customer:

hmm. interesting. I have never really struggled with anxiety before this. Like I said, normally when I start to over thinking what I'm doing... I just pray and cause I know it's not good to dwell on it. but when I had the experience in the mirror- that was just weird. And I was going... okay, am I going nuts??? If I did experience derealization... the cure is mainly sleep it sounds like?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You do no seem to be very disturbed, and sleep (and avoiding or removing fluorescents) should help a great deal.

Customer:

I actually did have a brain scan done recently... just as a follow up from my accident... just to make sure everything looked ok. The neurosurgeon said he didn't see anything that looked serious.

Customer:

I've had insomnia... so that

Customer:

oops

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Was your accident emotionally traumatic for you? Do you still get memories, fears, or flashbacks?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

That is good news about the negative brain scan.

Customer:

oops... so that's been very stressful on me... extra exhaustion.. I started to feeling a bit overwhelmed. and a bit depressed. but as long as I know that this experience is normal, I think I'll sleep better and not feel at all depressed. My trauma is just an amazing testimony to me of God's faithfulness. It's not scary to think about at all:)

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Do you startle easily? Are you hypervigilant at times? Do you ever get panic attacks?

Customer:

no I don't startle easily. and no. and no... although with the not understanding what my experience was in the mirro and extra lack of sleep because of it I've felt on the verge of possible having panic attacks. I just need to catch up on sleep and not worry about if there's something wrong with me.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I believe it is a result of lack of sleep and a bit of trauma from your accident.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Your strong faith, will help. Sleep is essential. Avoiding fluorescents (including those awful new twisted fluorescent bulbs is a good idea.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Finally, I urge you to try the melatonin.

Customer:

I actually remember as a little girl having a moment where I was exhausted walking up steep hill and thinking along the same lines of ... how does my body just do what it does?? kinda that overthinking how my body opperates... but yeah, I think fatigue and disturbed sleep triggers it?

Customer:

I talked to a pharmacist that suggested not taking melatonin because he said it can make your brain lazy.... and it will stop making my natural melatonin... so I've been afraid to go that route.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Yes, and you are also interested in those very difficult existential philosophical questions that thinking people have always thought aboutl

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

If your body is not making enough melatonin, then the supplement will not hurt you., but will help you.

Customer:

I'm not sure how much to take... for how long...??

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

The dose is on the bottle. Let me see if I can find the optimal dose. Give me a moment.

Customer:

ok. Am I going over time?? or is this just a straight forward payment?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

We are fine.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Melatonin comes in 1.5 and 3 mg. tablets.

Customer:

haha. ok thanks

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Best to start with 1.5 mg.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Try going to bed early.

Customer:

ok, so sounds like, lack of sleep can be the root of this... and it doesn't take much lack of sleep to experience depersonalization or whatever... it happens to normal people... and can move on from this...

Customer:

*I

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Yes. You will

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

be fine.

Customer:

I think I've asked everything I need to... do you know how long I should take the melatonin? just play it by ear? a couple of weeks?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

See how you react to it. Some people say that it helps a lot. Other people say it doesn't affect them.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Its worth a try.

Customer:

you mentioned something about derealization can be triggered by an inner ear issue? I have had shooting pain in my ears... on and off... I think it may have to do with my wisdom teeth needing to be pull though?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

See your dentist and check with doctor for ear infection.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You have various reasons to suffer from DR.

Customer:

I checked on the ear infection. that was a negative. yes, I'll try it. thank you. so have you delt with other patients who have experienced DR/DP

Customer:

?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Yes. These incidents are fairly common.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

People with trauma disorders (such as PTSD) have them. You don't seem to have PTSD, but you can have some symptoms of trauma (possible panic attacks, anxiety, and DR)

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

And don't discount the possible negative effects of any kind of fluorescents, old style or new style.

Customer:

ok, my main concern is that this is not abnormal to experience... and I can trust that I'm receiving advice from someone that really knows what they're talking about- haha ;)

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I am an experience licensed profession with two national certifications and have been to school 11 years after high school.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I have a little knowledge.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

You are functional and you are not mentally ill.

Customer:

yes, I think fluorescents can trigger it for me at times... even just walking into big stores with fluorescents can make me feel a bit anxious. what bugged me about the mirror experience was that it was in my bathroom!?! I did have compact fluorescents at the time... changed those out.

Customer:

ok thank you for your time!!

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Good for you.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I shall keep you in my prayers. I know that you will be fine.

Customer:

haha! Thank you!;)

Customer:

thank you for your prayers are you a believer?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Your are very welcome.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Of course. Who else would I pray too?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Same One you do ! ! ! ! :)]

Customer:

haha;) awesome. :)) God bless ;)

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

God bless you too, sister.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience: 35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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