Depersonalization and Substance Use

by Dr. R.E. Freedman

Anyone who is prone to feelings of depersonalization is also quite reactive to outside stimuli, and therefore must be aware of the reactions one might experience after substance use and why full clarity of mind is dependent upon avoiding certain substances, for good reasons.

It is helpful to know just how reactive you may be in order to counter this reactivity and avoid having to face intrusive symptoms of depersonalization, derealization, anxiety and other physical and emotional interferences.

Lastly, it’s important to learn how to interrupt feelings of depersonalization and derealization so your mind refreshes and clarity and peace of mind return.

Let’s begin with the definition of Depersonalization and Derealization:

– Depersonalization is basically a mind that has become extremely fatigued due to prolonged fearful worry. This tired mind creates feelings of detachment, unreality and disorientation, as if separated from the world and the people in it.
– Derealization is when one’s surroundings appear unusual, different, distant, strange and a bit “off.”

Neither is an illness. What one is experiencing is the results of an exhausted mind which is basically a learned behavior/habit that may simply be treated and remedied when approached in a very specific manner.

Anxiety usually accompanies this sensation and helps to fuel the symptoms.

The mind is basically waiting to refresh as soon as one learns to move out of their own way. Learning to make the proper corrections concerning the way one thinks along with specific nutritional changes, enables one to interrupt the symptoms and learn to step out of their own way, allowing the mind to refresh and clarity to return.

Substances Adding to the Feelings of Depersonalization, Derealization and Anxiety:

Marijuana: This seems to be one of the strongest triggers of depersonalization as it simulates the sensation of detachment and fogginess at the same time. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC properties, which enhance the euphoric high, are not regulated and might range from small amounts to much higher percentages. The problem is that one is not aware of the percentages and therefore might not experience its affects until they have smoked or ingested large amounts.

Pre-Workout Formulas: These seemingly innocuous and vitamin enriched substances often contain large amounts of chemicals that share identical properties with caffeine. This serves to energize and allow the individual to assume they are building a stronger body, when in truth it is merely a temporary assumption created from the enhanced stimulants in their body. The mind and body become rapidly dependent on these formulas and to add insult to injury, many double up on dosages believing it will speed up the process. Unfortunately this only maintains a greater dependency and physical addiction which culminates in a difficult physical and emotional crash upon discontinuation of the formula. The person is left in an exhausted, low energy frame of mind and body, struggling to make it through the day. Other side effects which accompany use of this substance are anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, hair loss and feelings of unreality (depersonalization).

Alcohol: Many who experience life’s difficulties often begin using alcohol in an effort to self medicate, in amounts that often create more physical and emotional issues. Alcohol is high on the glycemic scale and this large content of sugar creates initial euphoria which always results in a very steep crash. One experiences heightened anxiety, depersonalization, insomnia, sweating and trembling.

Antidepressants and Antianxiety Medications: Remember that the individual prone to both anxiety and/or depersonalization is highly reactive to outside substances. It’s most important to recall that medication is number one on that list. This means that while someone who is less reactive may tolerate an antidepressant or antianxiety medication and feel generally well while doing so, but those who are more reactive may experience many of the adverse reactions (side effects) rather than the benefits of these medications. Withdrawal may also be a problem when deciding it’s time to discontinue use. This often leads to feelings of increased anxiety, fogginess, depersonalization, derealization, headaches, insomnia, and nausea. Dependence may also a problem with these medications along with severe and difficult withdrawal reactions.

Adderall: This medication contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and is primarily used for those seeking help for ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This is appropriate when the exact protocol as prescribed by your physician is enforced, but unfortunately many are using these medications in a sporadic manner, for example, during final exams, term papers, and projects that require increased mental stimulation. This is when the mind and body experience withdrawal symptoms and severe side effects such as panic attacks, anxiety, depersonalization, derealization and other generalized anxiety symptoms, as the mind tries to maintain balance.

Understanding and Solutions

One must immediately realize that they are reactive in nature and begin learning how to make the correct life changes to compensate for this heightened reactivity.
A proper approach to desensitization of an overactive mind and body through a specific program will begin to lessen the affects that substance use has created.
Changing the way one perceives these reactions is imperative and immediate steps taken to correct the new intrusive behaviors.
Avoidance of all the above substances is best observed although stopping cold turkey is prohibited and will only lead to further discomfort. Instead, use of a protocol by your prescribing physician will painlessly help you slowly withdraw from use.
Learn how to follow the specific steps to overcome Depersonalization, Derealization and Anxiety so it is completely and permanently eliminated. This is not difficult but quite specific in nature.
Understand that you will always be reactive to many outside substances and lead your life around this fact. The choice is always yours and experiencing the return of clarity and peace of mind through the proper corrections and approach is well worth the effort.
Also, cut back on Caffeine and Nicotine. These are also chemical substances that interrupt a peaceful existence.
Choose to eat less Sugar as this too can be overstimulating and interfere with a true sense of well being.
Exercise in moderation. Most who are using pre-workout formulas are young and healthy and do not require the extra boost. Trust that your body will know its limits and enjoy exercise rather than pushing it too far beyond reasonable limits.

Most of all, understand that these outside substances carry more of a long term risk than you can imagine. Your body is set up in a natural way to meet all the needs you require. By adding chemical substances you are tampering with the delicate balance of both mind and body, and it often takes quite a while to regain this natural balance.

Do not lose hope as this is a process that must be followed specifically for full recovery to occur. Stick with it and know that every moment you are following the proper steps, making the right corrections, your mind and body will be refreshing, leading to a full return to clarity and complete peace of mind.

For more information concerning the proper steps towards complete and permanent recovery from Depersonalization/Derealization and Anxiety feel free to contact our office:

Anxiety Busters, Inc.
http://www.anxietybusters.com
info@anxietybusters.com
Office Phone: 215-635-4700
Office Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM (EST)

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