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I am 52 years old and have had episodes of derealization since I was 17. Most of these episodes were very brief and manageable (at most a few days a year) until last summer (2019). Ive had some very bad experiences smoking weed when I was younger, but fortunately no weed-induced derealization, just panic attacks. I gave up all drinking and smoking over 20 years ago.

Anyway, starting in April, 2019, I started developing severe problems with anxiety and depression due to various stresses in my life: work, family, kids etc. Ive had anxiety episodes all my like, but this one was much worse than any of the others. Eventually, the anxiety started triggering derealization which also kept getting worse through the summer and fall. The derealization was worse than I was used to but still bearable.

Finally, in November, 2019, the derealization abruptly got much worse to the point where I was experiencing symptoms 8 - 9 hours a day. This forced me to take a leave of absence from my job and has put quite a strain on my marriage. Finally, in early January of this year, it looked like my dr symptoms were improving, thanks mostly to cognitive behavioral therapy I had been receiving in the weeks prior. Then, I caught the flu and in the space of a week not only were all of my gains wiped out, but my symptoms ended up getting much worse. Now, I have derealization 24/7 without respite and am completely unable function. Even sleep is almost impossible due to incessant anxiety and panic attacks. My leave of absence ends in February and, barring a miracle, there's no way I'll be able to back to work by then. So now my job is on the line thanks to derealization.

So, to wrap up this sob story, I have two questions for the forum:
Has anyone ever experienced a big increase in dpdr symptoms AFTER recovering from the flu (I know they can increase while a flu is active)? If so, is the increase permanent or is there an eventual return to baseline?

How bad can dpdr actually get? After lurking on this site for a while, I've seen quite a wide range of symptoms, from people in graduate school or holding high level jobs to others who are completely bedridden. Im very worried about my own situation because my symptoms are getting steadily worse despite using a range of coping mechanisms. I wish I had a better idea of what to expect.
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