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Do you find that life feels dreamlike or distant? Sometimes we can experience feelings of unreality associated with anxiety, sometimes they are more persistent. Either way, you may want to contact a therapist.

What are feelings of unreality?

Sensations of unreality, also known as derealisation or depersonalisation, can be experienced as a feeling of being disconnected from reality. It can feel as if you are a spectator in your own life, or as if the world around you is blurred or unreal. This experience can be both confusing and frightening, but it is important to remember that you are not alone.

Causes and context

  • Anxiety unreality feelings: Strong anxiety can sometimes lead to unreality feelings, as a way for the mind to protect itself from overwhelming stress.
  • Unreality feelings panic disorder: During periods of stress, feelings of unreality can become more intense, creating a vicious cycle of worry and fear.
  • Depression delusions: Delusions may arise as a result of the deep stress and emptiness that characterise the condition.
  • Panic disorder unreality feelings: Individuals with panic disorder may often experience these feelings, reinforcing the sense of anxiety and fear.

Identifying feelings of unreality

It is important to recognise the signs of feelings of unreality in order to deal with them effectively:

  • Feeling of being a spectator of your own life.
  • The feeling that the environment is alien or blurred.
  • Feeling that your own thoughts and body are alien.

When to seek help?

If you experience these feelings frequently, or if they start to affect your daily life, it may be time to consider contacting a psychologist. Professional help can give you the tools to manage these feelings and understand their origins.

Dealing with feelings of unreality

Breathing exercises: Focusing on your breathing can help bring you back to the present moment and reduce feelings of unreality.

Mindfulness and meditation: These techniques can help you become more aware of the present moment and reduce stress.

Physical activity: Regular exercise can reduce stress and anxiety, which in turn can help reduce the experience of feelings of unreality.

Structured routine: Having a daily routine can provide stability and a sense of reality.

We make the hard things easier

Navigating feelings of unreality can be challenging, but remember that you are not alone. By understanding and accepting these feelings, and by seeking help when needed, you can take a step towards feeling better. We offer contact with experienced psychologists and therapists who can support you in this journey. Do not hesitate to contact us if you feel you need someone to talk to.




20 frequently asked questions and answers about feelings of unreality

What is a sense of unreality?

Unreality, also known as depersonalisation or derealisation, is a psychological experience where you feel alienated from your own body or surroundings. It can feel like living in a dream or seeing yourself from the outside. This feeling is linked to different mental states and can be a reaction to stress or trauma.

What does unreality feel like?

Feelings of unreality can vary from person to person, but it is often described as a feeling of being a spectator of your own life or that things around you are not real. You may feel detached from your feelings, as if you are looking at the world through a filter. It can also mean an altered perception of time and space.

Are feelings of unreality dangerous

By themselves, feelings of unreality are not dangerous, but they can be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It is important to seek professional help if these feelings are affecting your everyday life.

Why do you get DDD?

DDD, or Depersonalisation/Derealisation Syndrome, can occur for several reasons. Stress, anxiety, trauma, and certain types of drug use are common causes. Sometimes it can be a defense mechanism the body uses to deal with overwhelming situations or emotions.

How is unreality treated?

Treatment for feelings of unreality varies depending on the underlying cause. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are often effective. Medication can also be used to manage symptoms such as anxiety and depression. It is important to get individualised help from a psychologist or therapist.

Can feelings of unreality be a sign of another disease?

Yes, feelings of unreality can sometimes be a symptom of other diseases such as neurological conditions or brain damage. Even some psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder can manifest similar symptoms. It is important to undergo a thorough medical and psychological evaluation to rule out other causes.

Do feelings of unreality affect memory?

Feelings of unreality can affect how memories are experienced and stored. Because the experience of the present can feel vague or unreal, it can make new memories feel distant or unclear. However, this is not the same as memory loss.

Can feelings of unreality go away on their own?

In some cases, feelings of unreality can diminish or disappear over time, especially if they are linked to a temporary stress trigger or event. However, it is important not to ignore these feelings, especially if they persist or worsen, as they can be a sign of a deeper mental health issue.

Are there any self-help methods against feelings of unreality?

Yes, some self-help methods can be helpful. Mindfulness and meditation exercises can help bring attention back to the present moment and reduce feelings of unreality. Regular physical activity and a healthy lifestyle also contribute to better mental health. Keeping a diary can also be a way to process and understand your experiences.

When should you seek professional help for feelings of unreality?

Professional help should be sought if feelings of unreality are persistent, getting worse, or affecting your daily life and functioning. It is also important to seek help if these feelings are accompanied by other symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or thoughts of self-harm. A psychologist or psychiatrist can provide advice and treatment tailored to the individual’s needs.

Can children experience feelings of unreality?

Yes, children can also experience feelings of unreality, especially in stressful situations or after traumatic events. In children, these feelings can manifest as confusion, difficulty concentrating, or a feeling that things around them are not real. It is important to pay attention to these signs and seek professional help if necessary.

Are feelings of unreality linked to sleep problems?

Feelings of unreality can be linked to sleep problems such as insomnia or altered sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation can in turn exacerbate feelings of unreality, creating a negative cycle. Good sleep hygiene and, if necessary, professional help for sleep problems are important to manage these symptoms.

Can feelings of unreality affect work or studies?

Feelings of unreality can have an impact on work and study performance. Difficulties with concentration, memory problems, and feeling disconnected can make it challenging to maintain normal performance. It is important to seek support and adapt the work or study environment to help manage these symptoms.

Is there a link between feelings of unreality and social relationships?

Yes, people who experience feelings of unreality may also experience difficulties in social relationships. These feelings can lead to a sense of isolation or difficulty in relating to other people. Social support and therapy can help to address these challenges.

How common is it to experience feelings of unreality?

Feelings of unreality are relatively common and can be experienced by many people at some point in their lives, especially during periods of high stress or after traumatic events. However, it is less common for these feelings to become chronic or part of a more serious mental health condition.

Can feelings of unreality get worse over time?

Yes, in some cases, feelings of unreality can worsen, especially if they are not managed. Reasons for worsening can include ongoing stress, lack of adequate treatment or support, and concurrent mental health conditions. Early intervention and continuous care are important to prevent deterioration.

Is it possible to fully recover from feelings of unreality?

Yes, many individuals fully recover from delusions, especially with adequate treatment and support. Recovery can vary depending on the individual’s unique circumstances and the underlying cause of the symptoms. The combination of therapy, possibly medication, and self-help strategies is effective for many.

Do delusions affect physical health?

Although delusions are mainly psychological, they can indirectly affect physical health. The stress and anxiety that often accompany these feelings can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension and sleep problems. Taking care of your physical health is an important part of managing these symptoms.

Can feelings of unreality be a sign of dissociative identity disorder (DID)?

Feelings of unreality can sometimes be associated with dissociative disorders such as dissociative identity disorder (DID), but they are not necessarily a sign of DID. DID is a rare and complex mental disorder involving multiple distinct identities or personality states. A professional assessment is necessary to establish the diagnosis.

Can lifestyle changes help manage feelings of unreality?

Lifestyle changes can be an important part of managing feelings of unreality. Maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, good sleep hygiene, and avoiding excessive alcohol and drug use can help improve mental health. Mindfulness exercises and stress management techniques can also be very helpful.

Dealing with feelings of unreality: a step-by-step guide

Sensations of unreality, or dissociation, can be a challenging and confusing experience. It is important to understand how to manage these feelings safely and effectively. Here is a step-by-step guide that can help you or someone you know navigate through these feelings.

Identify the emotion

  • Understand the feeling: Feelings of unreality can feel like you are disconnected from your own body or surroundings.
  • Observe the symptoms: Note specific symptoms such as feelings of detachment, memory loss or a sense that the world is not real.

Create a safe environment

  • Find a safe place: Find a place where you feel safe and undisturbed.
  • Use senses: Focus on what you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste to anchor yourself in the present moment.

Use grounding techniques

  • Physical methods: Hold on to something firm, walk barefoot on the grass, or take a hot shower.
  • Sensory methods: Listen to soothing music, smell something with a strong odor, or eat something with a distinct taste.

Breathing exercises

  • Deep breathing: Take slow, deep breaths to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Breathing techniques: Try different breathing techniques such as abdominal breathing or the 4-7-8 technique.

Identifying challenging situations

  • Understand triggers: Learn what triggers your feelings of unreality.
  • Journal: Keep a journal to track these triggers and how you react to them.

Seek professional help

  • Therapy: Consider talking to a psychologist or therapist.
  • Support groups: Join support groups where you can share experiences and get advice.

Create a self-care routine

  • Regular exercise: Physical activity can reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Balanced diet: A nutritious diet can contribute to better physical and mental health.

Develop positive coping strategies

  • Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness to be present in the moment.
  • Creative expression: Use art, music or writing as a way to express and process emotions.

Remember that each person’s experience is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to be patient and keep experimenting with different strategies to find what works best for you or your loved one. If you feel overwhelmed, do not hesitate to contact a health professional.


Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.