Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) : a patient's guide

including Functional/Dissociative (non-epileptic) Seizures,  Functional Movement Disorder and other functional symptoms

Hemi

neurosymptoms.org

Dissociative Symptoms - 'feeling spaced out'

What are Dissociative Symptoms?

 

Dissociative symptoms are commonly experienced along with the other functional symptoms described in this website. It can be very useful to identify them and understand them both in terms of understanding the nature of your own symptoms and learning how to regain control of your body.

 

Dissociative symptoms include :

 

Depersonalisation – a feeling that your body doesn’t quite belong to you or is disconnected from you

 

Derealisation – a feeling that you are disconnected from the world around you or “spaced out”

 

For a detailed description of dissociative symptoms you can download an article here  which describes them for a neurology journal

 

Here are some of the ways in which people describe depersonalisation and derealisation.

 

 

Depersonalisation

 

Common: ‘I felt strange / weird’, ‘I felt as if I was floating away’, ‘I felt disembodied / disconnected / detached / far away from myself’, ‘apart from everything’, ‘in a place of my own/ alone’, ‘like I was there but not there’, ’I could see and hear everything but couldn’t respond’

 

Less Common: ‘puppet-like’, ‘robot-like’, ‘acting a part’, ‘I couldn’t feel any pain’ ‘like I was made of cardboard',  ‘I felt like I was just a head stuck on a body’, ‘like a spectator looking at myself on TV’, ‘an out of body experience’, ‘my hands or feet felt smaller / bigger’. ‘when I touched things it didn’t feel like me touching them’

 

Derealisation

 

‘My surroundings seemed unreal / far away’, ‘I felt spaced out’, ‘It was like looking at the world through a veil or glass’, ‘I felt cut off or distant from the immediate surroundings’, ‘objects appeared diminished in size /  flat / dream-like / cartoon like / artificial / unsolid’

 

 

Why its helpful to find out about dissociative symptoms?

 

These symptoms occur in all kinds of situations. Most people have experienced them to some degree when they have the flu or are very sleep deprived

 

Understanding what dissociative symptoms are, that there is a name for them and that they don’t mean you are “going mad”, can often be helpful to people with functional symptoms who may experience these symptoms as part of their illness

 

Fear and anxiety can intensify dissociative symptoms so if you know more about them then the symptoms themselves can be less intense.

 

The experience of being somewhat disconnected from your body may also explain to you why at other times your body feels disconnected or weak down one side. This is why functional weakness  is sometimes called ‘dissociative motor disorder’ and why we have the name ‘dissociative seizures’.

 

 

More Information

 

There are lots of resources, videos and links at unreal - the UK charity for depersonalisation/derealisation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a detailed description of dissociative symptoms you can download an article here  which describes them for a neurology journal

 

This 2017 article from the British Medical Journal written by a psychologist (Elaine Hunter), patient with the problem (Jane Charlton) and a professor of cognitive neuropsychiatry (Prof David)

 

It is a really superb summary of depersonalistion and derealisation. There is also a podcast where the editor of the BMJ (Fiona Godlee) discusses her own experiences of depersonalisation and a youtube video - both are thoroughly recommended

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is also more information about depersonalisation available from the following:

 

 

@DPAFU_UK and @dpddiaries

These Twitter account has lots of links and information about depersonalisation

 

 

Dissociation Stone - Dissociation_Page_1

Stone. Practical Neurology 2006;6:308-313; doi:10.1136/jnnp.2006.101287 by permission of BMJ publications

DP article DP article

Hunter, Charlton and David. Depersonalistion and Derealisatio: assessment and management. BMJ 2017 with associated podcast where the editor of the BMJ (Fiona Godlee) discusses her own experiences of depersonalisation and a youtube video 

Unreal

unreal is the UK charity for people with depersonalisation/derealisation disorder (DP/DR) - who experience these symptoms on a persistent basis.

Unreal