How Long Does Depersonalization Last? (Insights According to BetterHelp)

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by BetterHelp

Stress can wreak havoc not only your mind but your body. We know that prioritizing good nutrition, regular sleep, physical activity, in addition to practices like mindful meditation can help to mitigate stress. Left unaddressed, however, stress and anxiety have the potential to harm your cardiovascular health, your immune system, and even your memory

It’s normal at times to feel disconnected or alienated from your surroundings if your body is experiencing stress. 

Although the feeling might be surreal or hard to describe, you might be aware of your detachment at the moment which can feel overwhelming and even frightening. This phenomenon is called depersonalization or derealization. In this article, we’ll take a look at depersonalization-derealization and how BetterHelp can assist you to cope if you’re experiencing symptoms.

What Causes Depersonalization or Derealization?

Brief episodes of depersonalization or derealization can occur due to factors such as illness, exhaustion, or as a side effect of medications and even alcohol consumption. Heightened states of stress and fear may also trigger episodes. If the episodes persist or happen often, this may be an indication of the presence of a psychological condition known as a dissociative disorder.

Dissociative disorders disconnect an individual from their surroundings, memories, actions, and, in some cases, their identity. They usually develop as a person’s way of coping with trauma and provide an escape from reality. This condition happens most often in children who have experienced long-term abuse or continued exposure to trauma. 

Because behavior is learned from a young age, children who develop dissociative disorders may continue to use the same coping mechanism in response to events that cause severe emotional or stressful situations as they grow older. This has a profound effect on personal identity as well as mental health.

Depersonalization and derealization may also develop in adults as a result of depression and anxiety. It’s unclear if genetic predisposition plays a role in the development of a dissociative disorder, however, there is evidence that suggests hormonal imbalances and changes in the chemical make-up and function of the brain may increase the risk of developing one. Leaving dissociation unaddressed can even hinder the effectiveness of anxiety or depression treatments because the disorders are so closely linked.

Am I experiencing Depersonalization or Derealization?

It’s not uncommon to experience both rather than one or the other. 

Depersonalization is defined as feeling detached from yourself. You may feel as though you are out of your body and watching your life through a movie, rather than experiencing events as they happen. A person experiencing depersonalization may experience:

  • constant dreaming
  • detachment from memories or a lack of emotion when recalling memories
  • uncertainty of your memories due to lack of emotion
  • feeling mechanical or robotic, as if you aren’t in control of your actions
  • numbness to events and feelings occurring
  • confusion about your personality or physical state of being

Derealization is described as feeling as if you’re not living in reality or completely disconnected from your surroundings. You may have trouble recalling things that should seem familiar and may even perceive them to be imaginary. A person experiencing derealization may experience:

  • disconnection from others, emotionally or in their relationships
  • blurry or a strange perception of their spaces and surroundings
  • hazy memories and trouble recalling experiences, events, or conversations that have happened in the past
  • an impaired sense of time
  • feelings of “going crazy” or like you’re living in a movie

How Long Does Depersonalization or Derealization Last?

Episodes of depersonalization will usually last about 20-30 minutes. In some rare cases they last hours, weeks, or even years. Identifying the underlying cause is important in determining how long a person is affected. Treatment and counseling can help to resolve these periods and prevent them in the future.

Can BetterHelp Me If I’m Experiencing Depersonalization or Derealization?

Going through a depersonalization episode can be scary. With the assistance of BetterHelp, you are not alone. 

BetterHelp is the largest counseling program in the world. It allows you to connect with licensed professionals who can speak to you from the comfort of your own home. And, of course, all your conversations will be completely confidential. 

BetterHelp counselors are specialized in certain areas so that they can better treat your specific conditions. For example, if you are managing depersonalization or derealization, you can speak to BetterHelp counselors or therapists who focus on similar issues. These therapists are also available for a 24 hour chat, so if you have an episode of depersonalization, you can reach out to them and they can talk you through it back to safety. 

BetterHelp counselors are officially certified just like in-person counselors, so you can really trust them. Plus, they do not have all the normal costs of running a brick and mortar business, so online therapy is far more affordable than traditional therapy. 

If you aren’t sure where to start but want to better manage your episodes, BetterHelp might be a good fit for you. A few clicks with online therapy could be all it takes to start reclaiming yourself and your life.


Get in touch with BetterHelp therapists if you believe their services are right for you.

How Long Does Depersonalization Last? (Insights According to BetterHelp)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.