Story by "Anonymous"


I'm 43 now, and have been going through a bit of a rough patch lately with fairly frequent panic attacks. Feelings of depersonalization and derealization always accompany the attacks. Last night, for instance, I was driving my stepson's
girlfriend home and had a DP episode.

It started with acute and sudden feelings of sadness and regret over a  minor issue. From there things progressed to a subtle but noticeable change in
perception - everything around me just looked "weird" and unreal in that ineffable way so familiar to DP sufferers. Then my voice started sounding odd when I spoke - disembodied, not my own, and far away somehow. Then the panic hits, and with it, feelings of being outside myself, not really here, not grounded, and not feeling comfortable at all. It was a struggle focusing on my driving and coping with the horrible feelings I was experiencing.

For me, my DP experiences always feel like a kind of delirium, like a drug trip is about to begin. So much so they remind me of the first time I
ever took LSD, when I was 16; the experience was like one long panic attack with hallucinations thrown in for good measure. Smoking some really strong pot about a month after the LSD experience brought on severe depersonalization and panic. This in turn triggered months of feeling numb, very screwed up and yielded still more DP and panic attacks. Eventually all this landed me in the hospital where I was treated for depression. Needless to say it was a hellish time.

The antidepressants did help quite a bit, but for months afterwards I still felt somewhat emotionally arid and unable to enjoy life. I attribute the
drug experiences and their aftermath as the beginning of my DP problem. More to the point, I still think, to this day, that the shrink who treated me never did suspect or pick up on my DP issues.

Since then I've had panic and DP attacks off and on, but for the longest time never really realized what they were. The more I read about DP,
the more I wonder if my situation is a chicken-and-egg sort of thing. Is DP causing my panic attacks, or is it the other way around?

I find that when things get really bad, a low dose of a benzodiazepine like Ativan straighten things out fairly quickly.

Anyone who wants to share their own experiences or just chat about what they're going through is welcome to e-mail me at




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