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Is there a treatment for panic attacks and depersonalization or derealization?
General Psychiatry

Panic attacks, also known as panic disorder symptoms, are essential features of panic disorder but can be accompanied by various psychological and mental disorders and other health conditions.

These attacks are characterized by a variety of physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms that the person may perceive as intense, overwhelming, and uncontrollable. Nevertheless, they have a cause and can be managed. It is helpful to explore the common symptoms of panic attacks, what causes them, and management strategies for each.

Some of these symptoms include:

1. **Heart Palpitations**

2. **Trembling or Shaking**

3. **Excessive Sweating**

4. **Hyperventilation and Choking**

5. **Chest Pain**

6. **Nausea or Abdominal Pain**

7. **Dizziness and Lightheadedness**

8. **Derealization and Depersonalization**

9. **Numbness and Tingling Sensations**

10. **Fears of Dying, Losing Control, or Going Crazy**

11. **Agitation**

12. **Exhaustion**

Two common manifestations frequently seen in individuals with panic disorder are depersonalization (also called derealization) and derealization.


The distinctive feature of depersonalization is a sense of detachment from one's body, as if observing it from a distance. There might be a feeling of not being in control of one's actions. This feeling is often accompanied by thoughts and fears of losing touch with reality or losing control.

Depersonalization can cause frightening physical sensations such as tingling or numbness. It can be a symptom of another mental illness, such as depression, or a side effect of anti-anxiety medications.


Derealization involves feeling separated from the surroundings, not from the body as in depersonalization. Things and people in the immediate environment may seem unreal, distorted, or cartoon-like. Some describe it as a foggy feeling or as if being in a strange, unfamiliar place.

If experiencing derealization, using your senses to reconnect with reality can be helpful. Holding onto something with a pleasant temperature, naming objects in your environment, or focusing on sensory experiences can aid in grounding.

**What Can You Do?**

- For derealization, engage your senses to reconnect with reality.

- For depersonalization, slow down your breathing and reach out to friends or loved ones.

- Seek professional help from a qualified mental health specialist.

It's important to note that panic attack symptoms, including depersonalization and derealization, are not life-threatening, and once panic disorder is treated, the intensity and frequency of these symptoms typically decrease or disappear. Treatment may involve medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Patience is key, and understanding the nature of the disorder and its symptoms is crucial for managing and alleviating them.

*By Bassam Alhourani, Psychological Specialist and Special Education Specialist.*