Dissociative PTSD

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A key feature of this subtype of PTSD is dissociative symptoms (depersonalization or derealization) and emotional detachment. Depersonalization is feeling detached from your own body, thoughts, or feelings. Derealization is feeling detached from your surroundings. Unlike psychotic disorders, people with depersonalization and/or derealization know that their experience isn’t reality.

Characteristics of dissociative PTSD include:

  • higher severity of PTSD symptoms and usually high degree of trauma
  • higher levels of comorbid mental health problems
  • dissociative flashbacks and amnesia
  • more significant history of early childhood trauma (earlier trauma is worse)

Depersonalization symptoms

  • feeling like you’re completely detached from yourself
  • feeling like you’re outside of your body, watching yourself in a movie or
  • watching from above
  • may include the belief that you don’t have a self
  • feeling detached from parts of yourself or your own thoughts “My thoughts aren’t my own”
  • having a distorted sense of time that is either too fast, slow or can stop all together
  • feeling mentally, emotionally, or physically numb
  • feeling like you have no control over your body, including your movements or speech

Derealization symptoms

  • feeling detached from reality
  • feeling like you’re trapped in a glass bottle or aquarium watching the world around you
  • experiencing others or objects as foggy, artificial, fake or dreamlike.
  • Feelings like you are in a movie
  • seeing objects as distorted in size, shape or distance
  • experiencing sounds or voices as muted or heightened (amplified up or down)


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