Tools to interrupt sudden or particularly severe depersonalization

Many of those affected by depersonalization suffer from sudden, attack-like depersonalization. Also, those who are affected by continuous depersonalization often experience phases of particularly severe depersonalization. The following section outlines several tools that have proven useful in such situations.

Please keep in mind that tools that have been used a lot may lose their effect over time. Also, tools should only be used to the extent they are not harmful to oneself.

It makes sense to establish a hierarchy for oneself about which tools should be used for which stages of depersonalization, and also to spare the most effective tools for every severe states of depersonalization. Through this, it can be avoided that tools get “worn out” easily.

Essences
Some of those affected describe using essences during periods of severe depersonalization as beneficial. Here, mostly Rescue Remedy or Star of Bethlehem (both from Bach Flowers) are used, both of which can be beneficial in severe conditions of shock or internal paralysis. Five drops are taken pure or distilled in water four times a day. The drops should not be taken for longer than a few days. Also, the essence Aura Soma Nr. 26 (Orange over orange) is known as a remedy against severe conditions of shock. Unlike Bach Flowers, this essence is applied externally to particular parts of the body.

Severe instances of depersonalization can be lessened most effectively by stimulating the bodily senses:

Tasting
Those affected often describe it as beneficial to drink icy water, to suck on a lemon, or to bite into a chili. The stronger the stimulus, the stronger the effect.

Smelling
Breathing in penetrating smells can be helpful for phases of severe depersonalization. Ammoniac incense sticks are available from the pharmacy, their effect is very pervasive. However, they wear out quickly when used excessively.

Aromatic salt has become somewhat old-fashioned today, although you may still be able to buy it in some places. It is of course possible to choose a particular essential oil to mix it with and to carry it around with oneself for possible cases of severe depersonalization.

Clove oil is a good essential oil to choose. Its smell is not as pervasive as that of ammoniac, but its effect is nonetheless strong.

Seeing
Most of those affected by depersonalization disorder suffer from visual impairments. Too few visual stimuli but also too many visual stimuli can lead to the worsening of depersonalization symptoms. When intentionally stimulating the visual sense, caution is necessary. Every person should try for themselves the extent to which this is helpful. One idea is to flash oneself with a flashlight.

Hearing
Loud sounds can help those affected to better perceive themselves in their surroundings and in the present. Saying their own name loudly or simply saying “Stop!” loudly can already be helpful. Other options include yelling or singing. Describing themselves or their surroundings loudly is also good when it comes to re-establishing contact with the outside world.

Feeling/sensing
The skin is the human’s biggest organ. Stimuli that are given through the skin can therefore be particularly beneficial. Many of those affected carry a rubber band around the wrist, which they can pull away from the body and snap against the skin when the depersonalization symptoms get too severe.

Often, people perceive it as helpful to consciously perceive their body’s own limits. This can best happen by touching. Either they touch themselves, or another person touches them. It is good for the touch not to be too gentle, but to be a bit harder (knocking, massaging, etc.). The whole body should be touched. A massage ball may be useful.

Touching the whole body is also possible through wrapping themselves in a woolen blanket or in fur, or by letting themselves be wrapped in a cold sheet. Nowadays cold packs are not used often in psychiatric institutions, but they used to be renowned remedies against dissociations. They may be worth a try.

By changing the position of the body, getting up or intentionally retreating from happenings can help to lessen severe symptoms of depersonalization. At the same time, it can be useful to trample one’s feed strongly on the ground. 

Some of those affected describe intentionally summoned “shocks” over the body as beneficial. Some examples include taking cold showers or putting an ice pack on one’s forehead.

What is also useful is to balance on a balancing board, as you need to work in a state of awareness.