Anxiety & Dissociation: How They’re Related

Anxiety & Dissociation: How They’re Related

By: Brianna K. Richardson

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental health condition in which an individual regularly experiences feelings of extreme nervousness about everyday life. People who experience Generalized Anxiety Disorder often describe feeling ‘on edge’, or feel a frequent sense of impending doom for no reason in particular. A common symptom among people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder is known as dissociation.

What is Dissociation?

People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder often experience dissociation after a panic attack, or after a period of intense worry. Dissociation works as a mental response to alleviate the stress of high anxiety situations by detaching the person from themselves and/or their surroundings. There are two types of dissociation a person may experience, depersonalization and/or derealization.

Derealization vs. Depersonalization

Following a feeling of intense worry, or panic attack an individual can experience derealization and/or depersonalization.

            Derealization is an involuntary mental response in which a person mentally detaches from their surroundings. When a person experiences intense worry, derealization works to alleviate anxiety by numbing the senses to external stimuli. Individuals who experience derealization will usually describe this feeling by saying ‘nothing feels real’ or ‘everything feels like a dream or movie’.

            Depersonalization is an involuntary mental response in which a person mentally detaches from themselves. When a person experiences intense worry, they sometimes become hyper aware of their body and bodily movements. This can be described as feeling ‘outside of the body’ or ‘floating’.

Other Symptoms Include…

  • Feeling emotionally disconnected from your loved ones.
  • Time seems sped up or slowed down.
  • Sounds seem too loud or too soft.
  • Distorted body image.
  • Feeling like your memories are not your own.
  • Physical and emotional numbness.

Dissociation can last anywhere from days to months, If you or someone you know are experiencing anxiety and/or dissociation please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit



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