Pin Me

Signs and Symptoms of Depersonalization Disorder in Children

written by: Jennifer Gunnerson • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 9/25/2010

Depersonalization disorder, wherein a person has a sense of being outside of themselves, can affect people of all ages. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of this disorder whether it is affecting an adult or a child in order to seek proper treatment.

  • slide 1 of 4

    Depersonalization Disorder Children

    The term depersonalization refers to a state in which a child or an adult experiences a sense of being an external observer of their life and of their surrounding environment. Many people experience a passing sense of depersonalization at different times in their lives, but when the sense of depersonalization is reoccurring or constant, it is considered depersonalization disorder.

    depersonalization2 Depersonalization disorder is also referred to as depersonalization neurosis and is considered to be one of the four major dissociative disorders. The defining characteristic of depersonalization is experiencing a dissociation of one's self. Depersonalization disorder in children can sometimes be attributed to trauma or to an intense internal conflict and can be identified by several key symptoms.

    When a child is experiencing depersonalization disorder, their self-perception is unbalanced. They may feel as if they are outside of themselves looking into the situation with no sense of their physical self. They may feel that their body is not real or is in a state of change or dissolving. This sense of physical detachment is one of the hallmarks of depersonalization disorder.

  • slide 2 of 4

    Symptoms of Depersonalization Disorder

    There are several symptoms associated with depersonalization disorder in children other than feeling a sense of physical detachment. Here is a list of the most common symptoms of depersonalization disorder:

    • Having a sense of being robotic or automated.
    • Feeling like life is simply a movie or a dream.
    • Feeling numb or unresponsive to the situations and environment in which he or she is in.
    • Experiencing persistent feelings of being outside of one's self.
    • Believing that he or she is not in control of their speech or actions.
    • Experiencing a sense of floating over one's self or looking down at their own body.
    • Feeling disconnected on an emotional or physical level from loved ones.
    • Experiencing a sense that one's body or limbs are distorted and appear to be smaller or larger than in reality.
  • slide 3 of 4

    Duration of Depersonalization Episodes

    Children who suffer from depersonalization disorder may experience just one or all of the symptoms listed. The symptoms of depersonalization may be experienced as brief episodes that last just a short amount of time or in severe cases, the symptoms may last for longer periods of up to months at a time. Many times, a child who suffers from depersonalization disorder will become chronically anxious and uneasy due to the symptoms of unreality that they experience.

    Children who suffer from this disorder may be afraid to describe what they are feeling and experiencing for fear of being ridiculed or of being misunderstood. As a result, depersonalization disorder in children has a tendency to be under-diagnosed due to the fact that the symptoms are under-reported. It is important for parents and caregivers of children who may be experiencing depersonalization disorder to seek treatment from a qualified physician.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Sources

    http://www.minddisorders.com/Del-Fi/Depersonalization-disorder.html

    http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/depersonalization/DS01149.html

    http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/157/11/1782?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=depersonalization&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&resourcetype=HWCIT

    Photo credit: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/140088