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Jean, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 433
Experience:  Masters degree in counseling, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
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Hi. I really need some help. I have been suffering from depersonalization/derealization

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Hi. I really need some help. I have been suffering from depersonalization/derealization for a long time now after a major panic attack. I think I've lost my mind. Could I possibly have schizophrenia? I am so worried. Please help if you can :( thank you

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Hello, this is Jean and I am available to help you.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

I'm sorry for your struggle, this sounds like a very difficult and scary time for you.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

depersonalization, derealization, panic attacks can make you feel like you've "lost your mind".

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It sounds like the "major" panic attack has triggered this. Anxiety and panic can take such a toll on a person, exhausting, and sometimes debilitating. What makes you say Schizophrenia? Just thinking about that is likely creating even more anxiety.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It's a vicious cycle isn't it. Once with anxiety becomes consumed with the anxiety, anticipating a panic attack, and spinning into one so quickly.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Deperson/derealization can be part of the anxiety/panic. You said you've been diagnosed with panic disorder for years. Because of the long history and struggle the depersonalization/derealization has become more of a defense mechanism, a way to escape the discomfort. It's actually quite an inborn creative way our minds/bodies seek to heal, naturally want to correct and be healthy. This takes you away from the intensity of the underlying emotions.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You are prescribed Zoloft, is it effective? Have you been treated in the past with something more specific for the anxiety/panic?

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Have you experienced trauma or a significant loss? If you have, do you struggle with symptoms related to the trauma, like Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? If there is PTSD it does not take much for one to be triggered, and difficult pinning down those triggers.

Customer: No i haven't suffered from any trauma at this time.
Customer: just panic attacks.
Customer: The zoloft has helped but it hasn't helped enough to make the DP gobaway
Jean N/20pluscounts :

Hello, thanks for joining me!

Customer: Thank you for getting back to me.
Jean N/20pluscounts :

What makes you say Schizophrenia?

Customer: Bevause I feel like I've had a loss of reality.
Jean N/20pluscounts :

You would have to have more specific symptoms of Schizophrenia. I do not think it's Schizophrenia, but a further evaluation would have to be done. Remember you are not alone, sadly, there are many people who suffer with extreme anxiety.

Customer: How can this be extreme anxiety? Is it possible that dp is a nervous breakdown?
Jean N/20pluscounts :

We may not be aware of the many who are anxious, because some are hold up at home, suffering in silence- frozen with fear, anxiety and panic- or end up in hospital thinking they are having a heart attack. It's scary, and your mind and body respond. Has something happened recently- increased stress?

Customer: i would like to explain something to you of you don't mind...
Customer: I know that when one has a panic attack they can experiencing a sense of unreality or dp at the height of the attack. However, this is NOT the same thing. This is a chronic, continuous, 24/7 type of unreality/feeling. It is way beyond the feelings you might have during a panic attack. Just wanted to clarify that.
Jean N/20pluscounts :

Thank you for sharing that.

Customer: yes, actually I have a lot of stress.
Jean N/20pluscounts :

What does your doctor tell you? Are you seeing a therapist? Tell me more about your stress- maybe we can sort out some of this.

Customer: but the feeling never goes Way.
Customer: away.
Customer: my dr says that my anxiety levels are too high. I was seeing a therapist but he was not helping me so I have discontinued use.
Customer: i have had two miscarriages within the past year. The most recent one being 2 weeks ago. I have a two year old baby as well. I want nothing more than to have another baby but have been struggling. I have been running back and forth to doctors to get to the root of this problem.
Customer: This past year I had found out my husband was having an affair for a year. We have only been married for 2.5 years. I've moved past that but I'm just giving you a brief synopsis. The first time I ever experienced this DP was after a major panic attack that I had when my son was 3 mths old.
Jean N/20pluscounts :

You seem very in touch with self and reality in the way you write. One who is Schizophrenia does not recognize or worry about it, because they "believe" their reality to be the truth. Do not give up on therapy- it's okay to discontinue if it wasn't working, but find someone else. Therapy can be very effective, do not want you to give up on that. Miscarriage is a trauma!! I'm sorry. You may be checking out to numb from the terrific pain this can cause.

Customer: That was the trigger for it all.
Jean N/20pluscounts :

Are you dealing with post partum anxiety??

Customer: oh I definitely was...for sure
Customer: after he was born
Customer: i think my hormones got all screwed up after he was born.
Customer: i remember looking in the mirror and not recognizing my own reflection. I feel that this dp is a disassociative type of process for me. I don't know why my brain is disassociating all of the time. It's not normal.
Customer: i got a full neurological work up and an MRI. Everything came back normal
Jean N/20pluscounts :

We are more familiar with post partum depression, but hearing more doctors talk about the post part. anxiety. You identify two major traumas- or BIG T's. Miscarriage and your husband's infidelity. I see why a girl would check out for a time!! Do you see a psychiatrist, ob/gyn, or who? It's like a "normal" reaction to an "abnormal" situation. It's more likely the trauma and it's vital that you get back into therapy. You can find someone who can help you.

Customer: Thank you. But to be honest with you I experienced this DP after having a major panic attack. That was way before finding out about the affair or any of the miscarriages.
Jean N/20pluscounts :

It's also important for you to have support- friends, family? The post partum stuff combined with the miscarriages, infidelity- actually makes a lot of sense that this is happening- you can find help, and get better. Yes, before- making you even more susceptible to such a response.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

That you are more vulnerable to such a response because of the history.

Customer: Can you please explain to me what exactly a nervous breakdown is? Knowing that might ease some of my anxiety about all of this because my biggest worries are that I have schizo or a nervous breakdown.
Jean N/20pluscounts :

You are not alone, this is not "dangerous", it is certainly unsettling though, isn't it! If you feel alone or isolated- that can feed the defense mechanism.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

A nervous breakdown, yes feeling like you are losing it. Need to find away to quiet your mind, calm yourself, your mind is on high speed. Grand Central Station head!!

Jean N/20pluscounts :

nerv·ous break·down


A period of mental illness resulting from severe depression, stress, or anxiety.



Jean N/20pluscounts :

It's the heightened symptoms you are feeling- nervous breakdown does not mean you will "lose it", means it's at an extreme level.

Customer: So DP is a nervous breakdown??? :(
Customer: do I haveto be hospitalized?
Jean N/20pluscounts :

No, unless you are feeling unsafe

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Thoughts to harm yourself

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Nervous breakdown means you feel like you are at your limits, unsure if you can handle much more.

Customer: no
Customer: this shift in perception just suddenly appeared after that panic attack.
Jean N/20pluscounts :

You can get through this. What have you learned to do to relax?

Customer: i was running. I don't have much free time though
Jean N/20pluscounts :

You've gotten through difficult things before. It may be a good idea to talk to your doctor again. Do you see a psychiatrist. It's vital for YOU time- in order to heal.

Customer: What exactly do I need to heal from though?
Customer: Also is it normal for this DP to last very long? It's been a long time
Jean N/20pluscounts :

Run Forest Run!! Reminds me of the Forest Gump movie :)

Customer: hahah
Customer: i remember that part!!
Jean N/20pluscounts :

The sooner you find a way to relax, unwind, calm yourself, the quicker you can stop this downward spiral.

Customer: i just don't get it. Why does my brain choose to disassociate to deal with stress when other people's don't? Stress is a natural part of life I don't know why my brain feels it can escape all the time
Jean N/20pluscounts :

You are not losing it! You are quite sane from what I am gathering. Do remind yourself you can and will get through this- but need a bit of extra support.

Customer: is this a lifelong illness?
Jean N/20pluscounts :

We are unique- some has to do with genetics, temperament etc.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

I think you will be vulnerable to episodes- but working a recovery program can manage this- like therapy.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Focus on your breathing- on grounding yourself.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

When you start to feel like you are fading- remind yourself of your feet on the floor, the touch of the chair, the temperature in the room etc. Being mindful is a skill you can practice.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

I do need to run. Please consider seeking out another counselor- trust that you will find someone that is a good match.

Customer: Thank you so much for your time!!!
Jean N/20pluscounts :

If you are interested in grounding exercises do a search on line- lots out there about this.

Customer: thank you!'nn
Jean N/20pluscounts :

Would you be so kind to rate my answer so I can get credit- much appreciated!!

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Take Care!!

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You are stronger than you think!

Customer: ofcourse! Thanks again :)
Jean N/20pluscounts :

You are most welcome!

Jean and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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