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I'm in the camp that says DP/DR is a symptom of C-PTSD, I very much believe everyone with it was a victim of abuse as a child. Whether it be physical, sexual or emotional. Emotional neglect can cause C-PTSD as well, having your feelings rejected and held in contempt by your caregivers as a child is traumatic at that age, and does leave scars.

Dissociation is a symptom of trauma, you dissociate when the threat that is before you is too much for you to handle.

For those of you who are unaware of the 4F's, here is a quote from Pete Walker's Complex PTSD book:

A fight response is triggered when a person suddenly responds aggressively to something

threatening. A flight response is triggered when a person responds to a perceived threat by
fleeing, or symbolically, by launching into hyperactivity. A freeze response is triggered when a
person, realizing resistance is futile, gives up, numbs out into dissociation and/or collapses as if
accepting the inevitability of being hurt. A fawn response is triggered when a person responds to
threat by trying to be pleasing or helpful in order to appease and forestall an attacker. This
fourfold response potential will heretofore be referred to as the 4Fs.
He summarizes them as this:

Fight - Narcissistic
Flight - Obsessive/Compulsive
Freeze - Dissociative
Fawn - Codependent

I believe depersonalization as a result of a panic attack is from a build up of stress, trauma, toxic shame, self-hatred, and a myriad of other issues. A lot of these things developed in childhood due to poor and neglectful or downright abusive parenting, and you have carried with them your whole life, affecting everything you do. Truth is there are many people who have had a panic attack, or several, and they don't come out on the other side as a shell of their former self, instantly developing a dissociative disorder.

But when you are carrying so much anxiety and stress which started in your childhood and has compounded over time, a panic attack is enough to finally push you past the point of no return, into permanent dissociation.

I made a post before, asking people if they identify with the symptoms of C-PTSD, which are as follows:


  • Difficulty describing feelings
  • Restricted range of affect
  • Trust Issues
  • Hates crowds
  • Proud of ability to not show emotion
  • Proud of self reliance
  • Prefers to be alone when stressed
  • Difficulties interpreting body language of others
  • Feels need to please everyone
  • Can't say no
  • Fear that others are talking about you
  • Fear that others don't like you
  • Feeling that others cannot be trusted
  • Periods of inability to feel close to other people
  • Feeling that people will take advantage of you if you do not protect yourself
  • Preoccupation with acceptance or approval
  • Anti-social or disconnected behavior
  • No or limited interest in peers
  • Withdraws under stress
  • Selective mutism


  • Memory issues
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty starting or completing tasks and projects
  • Episodes of disassociation - severe daydreaming or zoning out
  • Sudden blankness of the mind
  • Forgetfulness/memory loss
  • Memory loss surrounding the trauma
  • Periods of disconnection from reality
  • Stutter or other speech impediment


  • Reactive depression
  • Stresses out in normal situations
  • Sudden feelings of sadness, anger, or fear with or without provocation
  • Distressing feelings of loneliness
  • Feeling that there is no future, you have no future, your life/future will be prematurely cut off
  • Argumentativeness/aggression/irritability
  • Feelings of Guilt or Shame
  • Feeling that you deserve to be punished
  • Lack of emotions - feeling neutral/numb


  • Sudden or frequent nausea/dizziness/faintness
  • Pain in the chest/heart
  • Poor apatite
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Inability to catch breath
  • Muscle jerks, especially in limbs
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Hyper/hypo-sensitivity: extremely sensitive to touch or insensitive to pain


  • Difficulty identifying or understanding feelings
  • Does not believe self body language means anything
  • Difficulty taking care of physical or emotional needs
  • Self harm/self punishing eg cutting
  • Seeks high risk activities
  • Cavalier attitude toward death
  • Failures of self-protection


  • Difficulty relaxing - always being alert
  • Periods of restlessness - just wanting to move around or frequent fidgeting
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Jumpiness/Exaggerated startle reflex
  • Nervousness when left alone


  • Loss of interest
  • Loss of ambition
  • Anhedonia
  • Low self-esteem/confidence
  • An overwhelming sense of injustice and a strong desire to do something about it
I have researched this topic to death, I never thought my childhood was bad or abusive. But when that's the environment you grew up in, you really don't know what else could be. I would have never thought anything of what I faced at home growing up if not for this disorder. It led me to the topic of C-PTSD, as well as therapy, and it all started to add up. I finally saw my childhood for what it was, emotionally abusive and neglectful. I won't go into too much detail, but my mother is a functioning alcoholic and when I was as little as 5 years old she would swear at me, call me names, tell me I'm worthless, ignore my cries for help and attention and emotional comfort. My father never did those things but was an enabler and never did anything about her behavior. Neither of them have hugged or said they loved me since I was at least 8, maybe even before, it's impossible to remember.

To address the title, I've been trying to understand and process my rough upbringing and how it has shaped my life. The issues I have and the problems they've caused are all rooted in my abusive childhood. The other day I was really thinking about this, I began to get very depressed and decided to start journaling my thoughts and feelings as suggested in therapy and then I began to cry. Like really cry, I really began to mourn my childhood and how horrible my parents treated me. Why didn't they love me? Why didn't they care? What did I do that was so bad that I deserved that treatment as a 5 year old? I cried and wrote at the same time, releasing so much pent up emotion. After I was done it felt like 1000 pounds had been lifted off of me, and the best part I felt so real! Not totally like I once was but really close.

Overtime my DP/DR has gone down by following the common advice of not thinking about it as well as working through things in therapy. I believe that can happen to anyone, but it doesn't relieve the root issue as to why it happened which is why you see many people saying they cured it multiple times. As in, it came for some months or a year, they got over it, it came back a year later, etc. They still have that trauma, that stress, that toxic shame they've been holding onto for years and years.

The best way I can explain it is 9 months ago I had my first ever panic attack, that is when I was at 100% DP/DR, after some weeks it reduced to 99%, then 98%, then 97%, and so on. The farther away I got from the panic attack the more it reduced, but after letting that emotional load off it was an instant reduction of like 30-40%, I'm going to continue to work through therapy and continue to grieve, understand, and cope with the loss of the childhood I deserved. As well as develop self worth, acceptance, love and compassion which I realized I have completely lacked my entire life. For the first time in a long time I can almost taste what it's like to feel real.

This disorder is horrible, I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Many times I have seriously considered suicide when dealing with it, but in a strange way I am now thankful that it happened. It was a slap in the face for me to wake up and see how horrible things have gotten for me in my life and in my head, and why.

Anyway, I'm just sharing my thoughts and experiences, I'm not trying to convince anyone as I know some here do not believe this.

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6 Posts
I can relate to all of those symptoms but im 99.9999% sure my childhood was not abusive and my parents thought the world of me.

Still, very interesting thread, best of luck in your recovery
I don't know you and will not claim you're lying/wrong about your childhood not being abusive, but something you should consider before writing it off is that when it comes to abusive childhoods (especially those that didn't involved physical/sexual abuse) one of those most common initial aspects is denial. This is something recognized by psychologists everywhere. Another bit from the book:

Confronting denial is no small task. Children so need to believe that their parents love and care

for them, that they will deny and minimize away evidence of the most egregious neglect and
De-minimization is a crucial aspect of confronting denial. It is the process by which a
person deconstructs the defense of "making light" of his childhood trauma. The lifelong process
of de-minimizing the impact of childhood trauma is like peeling a very slippery and caustic
onion. The outer layer for some is the stark physical evidence of abuse, e.g., sexual abuse or
excessive corporal punishment. Subsequent layers involve verbal, spiritual and emotional abuse.
Core layers have to do with verbal, spiritual and emotional neglect.
In a perversely ironic way, my parents' physical abuse of me was a blessing, for it was so
blatant that my attempts to suppress, rationalize, make light of and laugh it off lost their power in
adolescence, and I was able to see my father for the bully that he was. [Seeing my idealized
mother's abusiveness came much later].
Identifying my father's behavior as abusive eventually helped me become aware of less
blatant aspects of my parents' oppression, and I subsequently discovered the verbal and
emotional abuse layer of the onion of my childhood abandonment.
Again not saying you're wrong or right about your own childhood, just that you should consider investigating further before dismissing it entirely. Thanks for reading my post!


Minimization about the damage caused by extensive emotional neglect is at the core of the Cptsd

denial onion. Our journey of recovering takes a quantum leap when we really feel and
understand how devastating it was to be emotionally abandoned. An absence of parental loving
interest and engagement, especially in the first few years, creates an overwhelming emptiness.
Life feels harrowingly frightening to the infant or toddler who is left for long periods without
comfort and care. Children are helpless and powerless for a long time, and when they sense that
no one has their back, they feel scared, miserable and disheartened. Much of the constant anxiety
that adult survivors live in is this still aching fear that comes from having been so frighteningly
Many survivors never discover and work through the wounds that correlate with this level.
This happens because they over-assign their suffering to overt abuse and never get to the core
issue of their emotional abandonment. As stated above, this is especially likely to occur with
survivors who dismissively compare their trauma to those who were abused more noticeably and
more dramatically. I find this painfully ironic because some people suffer significant active
abuse without developing Cptsd. Typically, they are "spared" because there is one caretaker who
does not emotionally neglect them.

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89 Posts
I think it’s a interesting point to make that a lot of us have accumulated trauma that built up to cause dissociation. Questions I still have is why weed would induce it. Other people that have had no bad childhoods could have many other reasons for dp as there’s medical reasons people get it too. Very good post. Thank you!

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537 Posts
I grew up in domestic violence all my childhood and teen and early adult years , I've been told this is a form of complex trauma i agree .
I had my first pabic attack at 15 I remember the first week or two after this i experenced derealization / depersonalization 24/7 then it went away.

After my first pabic attack I went on to develop panic disorder and health anxiety then at 24 I developed ocd.
I am 34 now and over the course of 19 years i have experienced transit derealization and depersonalization, the longest it lasting was 2 months.

Now I've had depersonalization and derealization for over 2 years, why on earth its chronic now unlike all the other times were it lasted minutes , hours to weeks, this time it's not gone away .

I don't understand why I have it non stop now , maybe 19 years of ocd anxiety panic has taken a toll on my nervous system .

The thing is I don't feel for me that is that therapy for the complex trauma eould hel me , i am ok now the situation is over i am safe i am ok .

The only thing that has greatly stuffed me up from my early life is the fact that I have dissociation amnesia , i always had memory amnesia from early age not realated to my current depersonalization.
I have lost massive chunks of my whole life this bugs me and is a major issue for me .

See im not sure I want therapy to bring back my lost memiores, do I really want to remember everything , the bad memories no way I don't want them . But ive lost the good memories yes I want them back but it dont work like that ..
Good post though

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1,091 Posts
The research strongly indicates that childhood abuse (whether psychological or physical, subtle or overt), is a huge risk factor for developing DP/DR later on, and we've all read why that is. For me personally however, I just can't apply it to my life.

I've spent hours trying hard and straining my brain to remember events as a child, and I can't remember any kind of attachment issues or damage. I can remember my parents being somewhat difficult through my teen years, but not as a child.

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47 Posts
As a child I had a good upbringing both parents always cared for me well (even though we had financial issues and moved around a lot) I was always very popular and happy I guess. It seemed it was internal feelings that kinda changed everything in my early teens. Still a bit of a mystery tbh maybe I'm not remembering it well

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73 Posts
Super, is it talk therapy you are doing? About the improvements you had, are they lasting? I had many great shifts in my consciousness level with EFT (tapping) therapy, but they werent lasting for long. I really relate with the symptoms you listed.

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for me it was my parents constant arguing that stands out. Thank fully it was never physical just weeks upon weeks of Yelling.
My folks would argue endlessly because my dad would constantly fall through the door drunk and my mam would absolutley have no way to deal with it besides screaming at him...I was always awake listening to it in fear...My brother and 2 sisters would be fast asleep and not even know it was happening...Even at 8 years of age I was experiencing insomnia and taking on constant fear that my dad or mam would leave and what would happen to us all then...

My mother is also a total obsessive person when it comes to cleanliness and tidyness...Her favourite word is "Organisation" I cringe every time I hear it....And then I wonder why I grew up rigid as a block wall in a state of constant tension...

As regards my dad he was the classic narcissist who would never ever tell you that you had done well...Everything I achieved as a young person (and I was a very high achiever) was basically taken apart with these words "You could have done better" or "You didnt do that part right"..........The message I was constantly being fed was perfection is the only acceptable level...If I got 9 out of 10 in a school spelling test it was the one I got wrong that was focussed on...If my soccer team won a game 7 to 1 it was the goal I conceeded that was talked about....

Of course its only years later in hindsight that I am aware of how all this childhood stuff groomed me for what was to come later in life...Addiction, alcohoism and ultimately DP....

We were always the family on the street that portrayed the 2 point 4, white picket fence, happy happy, model family image....Our house was spotless, we had the best of clothes and toys etc... BUT!!! The reality behind closed doors was very different....Our home was in turmoil late at night...I often remember being awake late at night listening to the screaming thinking " What do the neighbours think of us" ??? That is NOT what an 8 year old should be focussed on at that stage of his/her life...It is so damaging to a child as regards their sense of security and of being loved and protected...And ultimately "SAFE"...

Yup I believe all DP sufferers had their sense of safety and security ripped from them at a young age as a result of outside circumstances...Usually from their primary caregivers and protectors....We just just didnt think at the time it was harmful...Because we were too young to know any different...It would also often sugar coated with gifts and material stuff to disguise the truth...You will often be told "You had a great childhood - You had everything you wanted" "You had alot more than other kids"............Yes thats true but what alot of us didnt get was what we really needed...Simple old fashioned love, attention, encouragement and the sense of being safe and protected...

Food for thought...Of course years of various therapists has brought me to the awareness of all this but unfortunately for me processing all that stuff has done nothing to eliminate my DP...Simply because we are all different...And for some trauma processing can actually do more damage than good...

DP sucks!

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1,763 Posts
Eddy my man, did you just write a story about my upbringing ??????!?!?

Goodness thats almost the same as me
LOL...All too common im afraid....

Heard a great saying recently...We are all victims of victims...

Try not to be too hard on your parents...They did their best...I often think what it was like for my parents growing up...Not easy I bet...My grandfather on my dads side was seriously alcoholic and had serious mental health issues and my grandmother on my mothers side basically drank herself to death via thousands of bottles of gin...Unfortunately that generation were not as educated as us when it comes to addiction and alcoholism and mental ill health....They were the generation of man up and get on with it people...Very very sad to think about...

I like to think our generation are breaking this chain of suffering...
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