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Research on the effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on depersonalization is ongoing. The medical community has been looking for ways through which they can utilize the benefits presented by CBD in the treatment of a number of ailments such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders. In this article, we will explore depersonalization disorder, looking at its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Our main focus will be on CBD as one of the treatment options.

What is depersonalization disorder (DPD)?

Depersonalization disorder (DPD) is a condition that is common, although many people have never heard of it. It is documented that at least fifty percent of people at one time in their lives suffer from depersonalization disorder. This condition is in a group of disorders known as dissociative disorders. It is characterized by a marked period of disconnected feelings or detachment from one’s own body, feelings, and thoughts. The psychiatric disorder affects both behaviors and emotions, characterized by an alteration of how an individual experiences and perceives one’s own sense. One experiences a temporary change or loss of the usual sense of their own reality.  It is accompanied by a feeling of detachment of one’s own mental processes, when one becomes an outside observer in their own body, accompanied with a sensation as if one is in a dream.

The real cause of depersonalization disorder is unknown, although it is thought that traumatic events such as war experiences, automobile accidents, suffering a violent crime, among other incidents can trigger episodes of this condition. It is also believed that substance use may lead to depersonalization episodes but not the disorder itself.

In terms of demographics, the disorder is known to affect people between the ages of 16 and 30, with rare cases experienced in individuals who are over 40 years old. Women are believed to be more affected than men; actually, statistics talk of women being twice as affected as men.

Symptoms

Sometimes, depersonalization is described as a disorder where one feels like they are observers in their own life. A kind of a situation when one is dreaming, observing one’s own actions from the outside. One would expect a person with such a distorted mental experience to have lost contact with reality, like not being aware of things which are happening. However, a person affected by this condition does not lose contact with reality; they are well aware that things are not what they appear, cognizant of the fact that something is not right. An episode of depersonalization varies widely from one individual to another as well as one attack to another; some last for a few minutes, while others may take a couple of years. Sometimes, it may be a sign or a symptom of other disorders such as substance abuse, seizures, or brain diseases.

As a dissociative disorder, depersonalization involves the disruption of memory, awareness, consciousness, identity and perceptions. Disruption of one or more of these bodily functions affects the normal function of an individual, including how they relate with others, social and working activities.

One of the main symptoms of depersonalization is distortion of the way an individual perceives their body. One may feel like a robot or like they are in the dream world. Some people may experience an intense feeling of fear, like they are going crazy; as a result of this, they become anxious and experience some panic attacks as well as depression. For some, these symptoms may be mild, only lasting a few minutes, but for others, they may be chronic, lasting or recurring over a long period. This can lead to problems with the way one functions. In some cases, it may lead to disability.

Presence of depersonalization disorder symptom prompts a doctor to start an evaluation. This is part of the diagnosis where a complete medical history, as well as physical examination, is performed. There are no laboratory tests needed, although sometimes they may be conducted for the purposes of ruling out other problems. If there is no physical illness found, an individual may be referred to a psychologist for diagnosis and treatment. A psychologist will conduct interviews and assessment in order to evaluate whether a person is suffering from the dissociative disorder.

Most of those suffering depersonalization disorder seek treatment to address symptoms such as anxiety or depression rather that the real problem. In most of the cases, depression or anxiety will subside, but the condition may recur over and over, more so because the real problem has not been addressed. It is only when the problem is recurrent or lasts for a long time that a person may need treatment. Also, when the symptoms are distressing to an individual, treatment may be needed. The main aim of treating depersonalization disorder is to address the stressors associated with the onset of the problem. The kind of treatment prescribed to an individual suffering from this problem depends on the severity of the symptoms as well as the characteristics. One example of the treatments is psychotherapy, where psychological techniques are used to reorganize and communicate with individual feelings and thoughts about one’s own conflicts which may be leading to depersonalization experiences. Medication is at times prescribed, especially if the person experiences anxiety or depression. Anti-depressants may help the individual, although this may be only temporary. Other treatment options include: family therapy, creative therapies and clinical hypnosis where techniques such as intense relaxation, focused attention and concentration are used to achieve an altered state of awareness, allowing an individual to explore their thoughts, memories, and feelings which may be hidden in the conscious mind.

Alternative treatment methods

Research has indicated that there is a need to explore more treatment options which are based on experiences and cases of clinicians who have experience in dissociative disorders. There is considerable evidence that Cannabidiol can be helpful in the treatment of anxiety and stress issues. Given that these are the major symptoms that persons affected by depersonalization disorder experience, research has indicated that CBD can effectively treat the problem.

Cannabidiol and depersonalization

One of the most important characteristics of CBD is that it’s non-psychoactive; this basically means that one does not get high or get a distorted feeling when they partake in it. Used as oil, CBD is described as an easy-to-use product. CBD is known to be effective in the elimination of the harmful effects of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) such as getting high, intoxication and drowsiness. Endocannabinoid system is the chief part of the CBD, joining it with receptors in various parts of the body, mainly the central nervous system via the antipsychotic effects.

When CBD is used together with THC, there is an extraordinary effect, as it cancels out the properties of THC while ensuring that the medicinal applications are achieved without an individual getting high. This is one of the reasons clinicians and other medical experts are increasingly recommending CBD as an anti-anxiety and analgesic drug to patients. The strong therapeutic potentials make an ideal treatment for those who are suffering from anxiety, depression, and anti-inflammatory characteristics such as seizures. It helps in relieving pain, gives neuroprotection and helps achieve better sleep. Its psychological benefits normally come from its capacity to bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors all over the body including the brain.

Research on CBD has shown that it is useful in the management of a number of conditions including epilepsy, depression, psychotic disorders, and chronic pain among other conditions. Depersonalization as a form of dissociative disorder is also treatable using the compound. Studies show that conditions, where anxiety is a common symptom leading to heightened levels of stress, can be well managed using CBD. A report which was introduced some time back regarding the anxiolytic characteristics of CBD in general social anxiety disorder concluded that the compound helps in lowering the levels of anxiety in paralimbic and paleomammalian cortex regions of the brain.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, just like depersonalization disorder, leads to severe levels of stress, depression and anxiety, problems which need to be dealt with first if the treatment is to be eased and successfully achieved. CBD has anti-depressive characteristics which may help those people with PTSD who exhibit depression as one of the most notable symptoms. Researchers say that at this point, when an individual is stressed after a chronic illness, CBD can be exceptionally useful, as the patient will focus on treatment without any anxiety or stress.  Additionally, CBD has the capacity to diminish short-term brain injuries. A transitional research report which was done three decades ago suggested that the compound can effectively treat schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders due to its antipsychotic characteristics. With this, medical experts concluded that depersonalization disorder symptoms can effectively be eased with CBD.

Can CBD induce DPD?

Substance abuse has been noted as one of the triggers of depersonalization disorder. Cannabis, being one of the substances people take due to varied reasons, falls within this category. When used excessively, just like other substances, it can induce depersonalization disorder. One of the reasons given for this is the fact that cannabis has both psychoactive and non-psychoactive compounds. When consumed in excess, the psychoactive compounds of cannabis will lead to depersonalization.  CBD on its own does not contain psychoactive compounds, one of the reasons why it is recommended as a therapy for stress, anxiety and other psychological disorders. The absence of these properties makes an ideal therapy, one which will not lead to feeling high, delusions or any other mental disorders.

Even when it is in full spectrum, CBD has been proven to be safe; it does not in any way induce DPD. Even though it has THC, a compound which is associated with feeling high among other unpleasant effects, CBD does not lead to depersonalization disorder. Full spectrum CBD contains less than thirty percent of THC, an amount which is considered too low to have any mental disorder or have any impact on the brain. It is also important to note that CBD has been proven to have properties which eliminate the effects of THC; this means that there will be no undesirable effects upon use of CBD as a treatment option. A hundred cannabinoids which include THC are known to help in healing the body in a synchronized way, commonly referred to as the entourage effect. The effect is known to promote more anti-anxiety characteristics in the body, leading to the reduction of depersonalization. Taking at least three drops of the CBD oil when the episodes or attack begin helps in the reduction of anxiety, something that goes a long way in managing depersonalization.

In conclusion, depersonalization disorder is a condition that affects many people, some of which may not even be aware they have a problem. With more than half of the population estimated to suffer from the condition at least once in their lifetime, special attention is needed to address the problem. Given the nature of the disease where it affects the mental function, treatment is required to return an individual to their normal state. Some of the traditional methods have proven effective but are beyond reach to a majority of people. Others are only known to relieve the symptoms, given that most people seek treatment with the purpose of managing the visible system. Also, given that at times it is difficult to diagnose the problem, several treatment options need to be explored. CBD has been mentioned as one of the compounds which can be used in the treatment of this dissociative disorder. The fact that the compound does not leave a patient with feeling high or delusional, it is recommended that it be taken as an effective treatment measure. Also, the fact that research has shown that the compound does not induce depersonalization disorder makes it an effective treatment option. Just like any other treatment option, it needs to be taken in the recommended quantities to give the desired results.