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How is DP not just PTSD?

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#1 never_giving_up


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Posted 05 May 2011 - 07:09 PM

I've been realising recently that I am constantly in a fight or flight state of mind/body.

I was just wondering, what really, do you think is the difference between DP and PTSD?

For me, PTSD includes lots of flashbacks, where DP doesn't. I really can't see any other difference but that.

Basically, I think that DP/DR and PTSD are one in the same.

#2 ZachT


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Posted 05 May 2011 - 11:36 PM

I've been realising recently that I am constantly in a fight or flight state of mind/body.

I was just wondering, what really, do you think is the difference between DP and PTSD?

For me, PTSD includes lots of flashbacks, where DP doesn't. I really can't see any other difference but that.

Basically, I think that DP/DR and PTSD are one in the same.

I understand what you mean. I also have the flashbacks too. But I dont think everyone who has DP has PTSD symptoms.

#3 DiscoStick


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Posted 06 May 2011 - 05:37 AM

I wouldn't say that I have PTSD, but I had traumatic experiences that I get flashbacks with.

I guess the difference for me is that my DP (DR in particular) is triggered by events in the present, while any PTSD-ish things are just bad flashbacks to things. I tend to get more DP when PTSDish things happen, more DR when I'm caught in the present by anything.

#4 raphus cucullatus

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 02:23 AM

From my traumatic point of view I think this is how it works.

PTSD eventually wears off, at the least the signs. I went through all of it, the anger outbursts, depression, revenge... you can google the list. Flashbacks can still exist with some people, but if the dissociation can mask it enough it just won't, it will be blocked out completely (sometimes the entire memory so it's not even easy to get flashbacks)
BIG things like scents or sounds could trigger a flashback for me, it would have to be drastic.

After that I was left with DP, and it's 5 years later now.

#5 Pablo


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Posted 07 May 2011 - 06:26 AM

Perhaps in DP the nervous system is stuck in contraction or off, while with with PTSD it cycles to over-arousal:

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#6 rightwrong99


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Posted 18 March 2012 - 11:44 AM

I've been realising recently that I am constantly in a fight or flight state of mind/body.

I was just wondering, what really, do you think is the difference between DP and PTSD?

For me, PTSD includes lots of flashbacks, where DP doesn't. I really can't see any other difference but that.

Basically, I think that DP/DR and PTSD are one in the same.

I 100% agree that DPDR is a form of PTSD. Maybe even worse though because there's a chronic form of disconnection which makes it near impossible to work on any issues.
It is possible for the nervous system to be incredibly wound up and anxious and traumatized even if the person is seemingly unaware of it.
And btw, diagnoses are stupid. People on here are gonna go look PTSD up on wikipedia and be like I dont have ptsd blahblahwahhh wahhhh but then said that theyve had a bunch of traumatic experiences or a shitty childhood.

Listen people -> IT IS NOT HARD TO BE TRAUMATIZED. You dont need a serial killer to slaughter your family in front of your eyes to be traumatized. It can be something as simple as your mom not holding you enough or giving you enough eye contact when you were 2 years old. Thats all it takes.

#7 violetgirl


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Posted 18 March 2012 - 12:54 PM

Great post NewYork

Trauma can be ANYTHING. It can be a series of soft traumas to just one big event. Having an emotionally distant parent, can be traumatic.
And yes, having DP makes is almost impossible to work on your issues. Because of the nature of DP it disconnects you from your pain, so how can you even begin to work on your trauma. And that's not taking into consideration the fact that many people have no idea they are traumatised. Emotional abuse is hard to spot.
Poor attachment during childhood can trigger DP. A mother with post natal depression can traumatise a child.

Dissociative disorders don't just pop up out of nowhere, for no reason.

I would recommend something called Trauma Release Exercises which have helped me a lot. Sometimes we have no idea just how traumatised me are, it can be buried deep inside of us. And the TRE is a great way of releasing the trauma, without having to talk about it or relive stuff.

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 01:32 PM

This comes up every few months. DP is not PTSD.

Interesting, I just saw my psychiatrist, a resident who is doing research so he has seen patients of all types, and is very interested in my case. He spoke recently to an individual at the VA Hospital here and is very interested in dissociation/depersonalization, etc. This individual sees DPD as a distinct syndrome. At least in my case. Chronic. He also notes there maybe a number of triggers to DP, but he is very interested in the opiate antagonist analogy, and even recommended I might try Natrexone/Naloxone.

Though I cam from an abusive family and both know my case, from my webiste and the work of Dr. Sierra, I am not considered to have PTSD, and never was.

As noted in its pure form, as in a Veteran, the key thing about PTSD is trauma can be just about anything ... though it is mainly LIFE THREATENING, such as in war, rape at knifepoint, etc. The KEY is not the trauma itself but HOW THE INDIVIDUAL PERCEIVES THE TRAUMA. Only a certain percent of War Veterans develop PTSD, so they have a predisposition.

Also, if you look at any description of PTSD, vs. DP ... the SPECIFIC criteria are different.

And the concept of a "flashback" ... I don't know what people here are describing, but in PTSD, an army Vet will drop to the ground when s/he hears a car backfire, certain it is gunfire or a bomb. The individual relives the horror of a fellow soldier's head being blown off and will literally sometimes hallucinate his house in flames. He/she also startles very easily, becomes angry/agitated easily. Some may experience DP, but that is NOT a key symptom. If it were, we would hear more about it.

There may be DP, or "this isn't really happening" during such an event, but I'm not sure those are even the same things.

DPD is a severe perceptual distortion, the cause of which may be many things. And it occurs in biology/neurology -- stroke, migraine, epilespy.

TRUE PTSD, in the strict definition means one truly beileves they will likely die. We recently had a severe tornado here wherein an entire portion of a town was destroyed. There was shock, acute stress, but I'd gather only some might GET PTSD, that is perhaps dreaming over and over and over of the tornado. Worrying too much when more storms come that aren't as serious. But overall the town is rebuilding and moving on.

DP is also possibly going to be removed from Dissociative Disorders. The one thing that distinguishes it from the other dissociative disorders (which are NOT connected to PTSD), is that there is NO LOSS OF MEMORY during the dissociative experience. Amenestic fugue, dissociative amnesia, and DID all have times where an individual loses a memory for events. DPD does not.

If you look at the Merck criteria, and more serious research out there, and there is more and more FINALLY ... it is being viewed as a neurologicl/medical/biological problem. I am trying to access a recent article ... or may get a copy from my psyhiatrist ... in Biological Psychiatry addressing the opiate receptor theory.

And I often believe now, more and more, that though I was abused, I may simply have had DP/DR on top of that. And the abuse made in worse.

I have not heard from this VA Hospital individual who WORKS in a VA Hospital of ANY connection in the two disorders. He sees PTSD, but he is also interested in Dissociation. He makes NO LINK between the two.

Another example of PTSD -- a friend experienced. She was in a serious auto accident, where she injured her back, her hips, was full of glass. She thought she was going to DIE, literally. It took her six months to get back into a car to drive as she was CERTAIN she would die in a car accident. She would have dreams over and over of the accident. These things slowly faded. She does not know what DP is and I have tried to describe it to her in a million ways.

We can't keep second guessing here. And yes, diagnoses are moved into other categories as more research occurs. But all illnesses occur on a spectrum and can be triggered by many different things. We are unique.

At this time, I have read/heard nothing that would indicate these two disorders are the same or that they are related, save someone with PTSD may have DP/DR transiently, or right during or after a severe traumatic incident or series of traumatic incidents threatening life. Natural disasters, war, rape at gunpoint, robbery at gunpoint, the WTC disaster, etc.

DOGS, military dogs, get PTSD. They become anxious, shy, startle easily, avoidant.

Any "flashbacks" we have may be repeated memories of certain things -- I have had nightmares arguing with my mother for years. That isn't really a flashback as much as it is trying to sort things out. And some of it will never be sorted out.

IMHO supported by research and speaking with therapists, reearchers, hearing veterans speak, live and in documentaries, etc.

And in 53 years, never having been diagnosed with anything but chronic anxiety, depression, and finally, fully acknowledged that I have DPD -- that again, is my official diagnosis AGAIN. Chronic, unremitting. And I am apparently on the best med combo for ME -- Lamictal, Klonopin, Celexa. I am afraid to change that. I'm also on a cancer med that can be affected by even a different antidepressant from the one I'm taking.

If I am wrong, and research reveals something else, I will happily change my POV.

And again ... the study of DP going back to the late 1800s ... found no connection between this and what at that time would have been called "battle fatigue" later "shell shock" and later PTSD.

This is like saying well, it's difficult finding a good medical analogy, but there certainly must be one ... severe coughing due to lung cancer IS the same as severe coughing related to Cystic Fibrosis. They are DIFFERENT diseases, caused by DIFFERENT triggers/genetics, though they may have the common symptom of endless horrible coughing and difficulty breathing, etc.

Edited by Dreamer*, 18 March 2012 - 01:37 PM.

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 01:40 PM

Pablo's chart refers to PTSD in a significant way ...

It does NOT note "feelings of unreality" and it notes typical PTSD responses:

Dissociation is mentioned, but that can mean many different things. And being "shut down" means many different things. And memories are clear and intrusive. There is no "forgetting."

Exaggerated Startle
Hyper vigilance

THESE are the typical hallmarks of PTSD. Does this sound like DP/DR which is a very specific perceptual distortion of whether or not the world is real or one's body is one's own? I say no.


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by recurrent, intrusive recollections of an overwhelming traumatic event.

Events that threaten death or serious injury can cause intense, long-lasting distress.
Affected people may relive the event, have nightmares, and avoid anything that reminds them of the event.
Treatment may include psychotherapy (supportive and exposure therapy) and antidepressants.

Experiencing or witnessing traumatic events that threaten death or serious injury can affect people long after the experience is over. Intense fear, helplessness, or horror experienced during the traumatic event can haunt a person.

Events that can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder include the following:

Engaging in combat
Experiencing or witnessing sexual or physical assault
Being affected by a disaster, either natural (for example, a hurricane) or man-made (for example, a severe automobile accident)

Sometimes symptoms do not begin until many months or even years after the traumatic event took place. If posttraumatic stress disorder has been present for 3 months or longer, it is considered chronic.

Posttraumatic stress disorder affects at least 8% of people sometime during their life, including childhood (see Mental Health Disorders in Children: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). Many people who undergo or witness traumatic events, such as combat veterans and victims of rape or other violent acts, experience posttraumatic stress disorder.


In posttraumatic stress disorder, people have frequent, unwanted memories replaying the traumatic event. Nightmares are common. Sometimes events are relived as if happening (flashbacks). Intense distress often occurs when people are exposed to an event or situation that reminds them of the original trauma. Examples of such reminders are anniversaries of the traumatic event, seeing a gun after being pistol-whipped during a robbery, and being in a small boat after a near-drowning accident.

People persistently avoid things that are reminders of the trauma. They may also attempt to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event and avoid activities, situations, or people who serve as reminders. Avoidance may also include memory loss (amnesia) for a particular aspect of the traumatic event. People have a numbing or deadening of emotional responsiveness and symptoms of increased arousal (such as difficulty falling asleep, being vigilant for warning signs of risk, or being easily startled). Symptoms of depression are common, and people show less interest in previously enjoyed activities. Feelings of guilt are also common. For example, they may feel guilty that they survived when other people did not.

Edited by Dreamer*, 18 March 2012 - 03:36 PM.

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 01:46 PM

I would say the symptoms of "stuck on off" would be considered more SIDE EFFECTS of a CHRONIC battle with DP which saps energy.

It seems similar, but it isn't.

And it has been noted recently that Hoarder/Cluttering is NOT OCD. It may be placed in "anxiety disorders" -- not OCD specifically. There are reasons for different criteria and CATEGORIES as the correct diagnosis yields the bet outcome re: correct treatment.

Also, many here, as I see so often are self-diagnosed, or misdiagnosed.

I have faith in biological/neurological research more than in psychiatric research.

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 02:04 PM

Sorry, last PS. As for DP or anything else "coming out of nowhere" -- many medial problems "come out of nowhere" or can be predicted as being likely to occur.

Mental illness clusters in families. It is known schioprhenia, bipolar, etc. are clearly medical and can easily be genetically inherited going down generations. I have such a variety of mental illnesses in my family I can't rattle them off again. Just about everything serious under the sun. And there is a clear picture of inheritance on one side of the family vs. the other.

And recently, this US soldier in Afghanistan who massacred a group of innocent Afghan civilians. He was going on a fourth tour of duty. I believe he just lost it. But there are many other soldiers who have done SIX tours and seen the same horrors, sufferend from not seeing their families, been injured, seem friends die right and left ... young people. This individual had some predisposition to "lose it" -- and this is a volunteer army. Professional soldiers.

For all intents and purposes my breast cancer "came out of nowhere" and yet both my mother and maternal aunt had it, though I do not have the breast cancer gene. My maternal Aunt died at age 54 from it. My mother did not even need chemo, took no medication and it never recurred.

#12 violetgirl


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Posted 18 March 2012 - 04:20 PM

This comes up every few months. DP is not PTSD.

Says who?

We are only beginning to understand how trauma effects people. Which book or system are you goin by? The psychiatric system is full of crap, as far as I'm concerned. It's obsessed with putting things in the right groups, not about helping people.

I think it's so dangerous to put all this medical jargon on here, it's all just opinion!

OCD/ anxiety/ DP/ eating disorders/ alcoholism. They're all maladaptive coping mechanisms. All ways of coping with pain.

Doesn't matter about semantics or getting the proper names for things.

Dreamer, you need to stop being so hung up on details, and start looking at the bigger picture!

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