Anxiety Makes You Feel Unreal and Disconnected
Panic attacks suck the reality out of us!
I talked two people down from panic attacks recently and both of them had been worrying that they had lost touch with reality. They felt totally disconnected to the world around them. In talking to them, they were so convincing. I almost believed that this episode was different. But I let go of my own fear for them. (My worry doesn't help anyone.) I quickly assessed that they were not, in fact, psychotic. They were speaking rationally and eloquently.
And I remember from my panicky days how I felt different and disconnected.
And this feeling different and disconnection totally charged up my panic. It went through the roof! Making me feel even more disconnected. This is because anxiety is what we feel when we are disconnected. Anxiety comes from a feeling of separation. That there is something missing in us that doesn't allow us to handle situations. A false assumption that we are different than other people (thus separate).
Feeling Unreal and Disconnected Is a Very Scary Illusion
It feels so much like it is possible we won't come back to ourselves. Like our sanity is about to go off a cliff somewhere, never to return. This is terrifying! And feeds the anxiety. An already huge snow ball, rolling around, gathering yet a wider girth. Intense panic ensues.
If your panic is that intense:
Stop and remind yourself that this is just panic, not death, not psychosis, not a cliff.
Remember: I cannot guarantee much in life, but I can guarantee that things will change, you will not stay here forever. That is impossible. This too shall pass.
Remember: You have most likely been here before and came out the other side, it only feels like this is more intense because it is happening right now. It was probably this intense before and you survived (or you wouldn't be reading this.)
Know: You can get rid of problem anxiety
Please tell me what is on your mind!
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Lobozzo, J. (2012, August 15). Anxiety Makes You Feel Unreal and Disconnected, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/08/anxiety-makes-us-feel-unreal
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
I feel disconnected when I panic. Sometimes I "force" that feeling of being disconnected to avoid the situation i am living. I become a witness to the situation and not a part of it, and it feels so real. It was considered psychosis, and was prescribed anti psychotics, but i wasn't convinced. It didn't help. The feeling of being disconnected often comes with visions of what "will happen". It can be anything, something bad like jumping from the 10th floor or something good like getting a hug. Whatever it is, it brings peace for a while. When feeling disconnected and needing to "come back", the best thing is to have someone talk to me about anything, but i also try to notice and focus on the physical symptoms that come with the anxiety: shaking, breathless, chest pain, etc. It brings me back to reality. Feeling disconnected is very scary, but I learned to use it and now it is helping me.
When I am in the midst of anxiety and panic, I definitely feel disconnected from others and different from others. I feel like everyone else if doing fine--why can't I? You described this very well, Jodi!
When I've very anxious, I can be with another person, but still feel disconnected from him or her--like I can't focus.
Hi i am 17 year girl..and suddenly i start getting wei4d symptomps in my body very weird that doctora refuse to blv me ..i did all test like ct scan mri of brain but all was titally normal.
But thn i wen to a phsycatrist and she gave ne medication..as i use to take i was nt totally out my synptoms but yeah i t qas better thau atleast i can handle..
But .. i startd hoempathic of it as it doest nt harm.
But almost 1 year gonw i dnt feel normal..
My hands lefa scalp of head ia always constantly numb...
i cant get over it..getting frustrated nt able to study ...go out of town for frthrr studies..i feel helpless like there id no solution..i feel so uneasy alld time..it feeldlikei am ..forcely happy just to gorget these symptoms
"Stop and remind yourself that this is just panic, not death, not psychosis, not a cliff." - This is a perfect quote.
I'm glad it touched you, Shawn!
I would probably start to worry that i couldn't trust my own cognitive state to make intelligent decisions. My anxiety is so bad that i have been on permanent disability for 10 years. I can relate to feeling "alien" around other people and this aggravates the anxiety even more, this is all just too depressing for me to contemplate for the remainder of my life.
Anxiety can indeed be debilitating, frustrating, and depressing. If you haven't done so already, you might consider working with a professional. And if you have done so, you might consider seeking different professionals until you find one with whom you click. Therapists and psychiatrists can be very helpful, but it does take time both to find the right one and to chip away at anxiety. If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, there is immediate help available at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ (or 1-800-273-8255).
Tonya. I recognize. You. Maybe... Landen chaudion. Naw problably not. I am on here because of a bad night full of anxiety. Lisa???? My mom. Irk you look familiar
You are so right, when I get them I have to say to myself it's ok it will be over in a minute. But, it does feel like the worlds closing in on me & that every can see I'm having an attack. It's crazy but like I said your right. Somebody once told me " this to shall pass" and it has stuck with me from that moment on. So, if you can keep telling yourself that, it will help. Or it atleast helped me.
Actually, when you are on panic your mind is automatically block because you are focus on what is happening and you are worrying if you would be hit or something.
Tim, This is possible. And it certainly feels totally blocked, but it is not totally blocked. Usually some control gets through, we have to see where and how so we an use this to our advantage!
[...] be afraid of the anxiety. Anxiety needs you to be afraid of it to have any power over you. Since anxiety feels so uncomfortable, we often do fear it. If we were to say. “Oh this is just anxiety, just let it come.” [...]
My anxiety is taking me on a field trip,first I was convinced I had cancer,then I was convinced I was crazy now I think I'm schitzo its so scary,I be so out of it I get so sad and think I may have to go to a menatl institute because I have two little boys!I get scared because so many weird thoughts run threough my mind..can u relate?
Yes, Shletha, I can relate and the fear of it all has it increasing! Once you know this is fear, it may settle your mind a little, and stop snowballing. This is what you want.
Is there someone you can talk to? To help you through?
[...] who have a history of trauma can feel sad, suicidal, anxious, angry, disoriented, have chronic pain, nightmares, and difficulty in relationships. Sometimes they can have [...]
[...] week: I just started having panic attacks last Tuesday and it felt like I was paralyzed also. (See Anxiety Makes Us Feel Unreal) My body instantly overheats and my chest and shoulders feel very tight and it feels like I’m [...]
Hi im curriently in the process of thinking im goiing mad. I dont even feel like me
Hi im currently in the process of thinking I'm going mad. I don't even feel like me. Why is this? I feel stiff, feel like I can't breathe and my heart is racing. My mind won't stop. I thought I was going mad till I read this so thanks!
Thank you all. I know it will pass. xx
It will pass, Milly, know this. Glad to help! Xoxox
Hey Milly did your anxiety pass. Because I'm feeling exactly that way, it started early this month it comes an go but I really don't like the feeling an I'm a varsity student I feel like its gon affect my studies.
I'm scared it like I really don't know myself I don't get wants wrong wit me I feel like I'm not me I hate looking in the mirror I feel like I'm n the wrong body I have bad dreams n I feel like can get out my head idk wat to do but sit n pretend like I'm OK but I'm not I feel empty like I always been crazy and didn't know it can someone please reply n give advice???
I feel the exact way you just described. I'm seeking CBT treatment and I heard it can really help and totally fix the situation we are in, which is just fear even tho it feels like some sooo much more. Maybe you could look into CBT yourself?
...also. As a quick fix solution I got prescribed Diazepam from my GP which is a sedative! Sounds drastic but it totally relieves the feelings for a bit. The only downside is that they are HIGHLY addictive! But therapy is the way to go.
I think you raise a very valid point, Rob. Sometimes medication really is necessary -- and helpful. But the side effects (including addiction/dependency) can't be ignored. You're right that therapy is very effective. Sometimes a combination of approaches is necessary. Even if it takes time to find just the right approach, anxiety is indeed treatable.
my mind is running i feel like i can not breath im here but im not here feel like im losen all control please help me
Dat How I feel too.
You're not alone, christabel.
Does this mean I have a mental illnes?
Not by my definition, Milly, anxiety and fear are natural human emotions. It's how you react that leads them to get worse. If you can't nip it in the bud, see a therapist, who can help quickly! You don't have to be mentally ill to see a therapist. They help the 'worried well' too!
I think I developed anxiety disorders/phobias/panic attacks because I was always a closeted adrenaline junkie. haha. Everything I wanted to do in my life (in childhood...but it's carried over to now) was somehow unrealistic/impractical. It's not like I wanted to jump out of airplanes when I was 5..I did want to do outdoorsy stuff like "extreme" sports (never even truly understood what was extreme about them, TBH), when I was little I used to ask my parents if we could travel places and then always felt personally rejected when they'd rationalize why we can't (can't afford it, too much else to do, "do it here", etc.) I got annoyed b/c I lived in the city (NYC)--to the point I ended up feeling emotionally and mentally claustrophobic around almost anyone--gridlocked!
Now I have kind of this internalized gridlock that I really just want to get rid of, but it's kinda been built up there not only b/c of the city, but also to control my own impulses (I was kind of "secretly" aggressive as a kid...e.g. I loved the idea of wrestling but not with all the rules and other "crap" they "added in" and put on TV...I just wanted to do things like that, and not have to think about them. But yet I knew that would be kind of, not socially acceptable. lol.)
Part of it might be AD/HD...but that's kind of a chicken/egg thing. It seems to "disappear" when I don't feel "restricted" by "authority." I have almost an instantaneous defiant reaction to authority, too...but it really depends on the person...and usually it's men which explains why I avoided male friendships most of my childhood. So I wouldn't start something I couldn't finish by telling them all they're moronic wimps and not actually being able to "prove myself" in a fight if parents got involved.
lol....so I was kind of a 'roid rage child too, in a way...
my mom says I was also an angry baby, which is interesting...
You are in this process trying to figure it all out and decide how to think about it. Try to be a least judgmental as you can. It'll all turn out better that way! Keep being a fascinated witness, rather than a frustrated victim.
I am dealing with Feeling disconnected and Unreal. But the thing is. It gets waay worse when I eat. Im starving and have lost 40 lbs. If I could just get rid of the disconnected feeling."unreal" or not here. I would feel so much better. Id be able to eat again. Many people say its anxiety. And I have some symptoms of it but I also feel like maybe its something else. Ive done blood test and vitals and they came out fine. Idk what to do.
Eat tiny meals or at least get some calories in drinks/smoothies, even if you can only manage one bite every ten minutes. Keep eating tiny until you feel better, then increase slowly. I hope this helps!
Im going through the same feelings and sometimes have to force myself to eat and mine also gets worse around eating time or when i need to eat mine has gotten a little worse lately and i got through atleast one a day and sometimes all day
I have this feeling constantly like I am not really here, it was coming and going but now seems more like its here every day, when I try to think of the future with my son the idea comes in my head you arent going to be here anyways. I am getting alot of anxiety and it seems to focus around that feeling of not really being here, when I go out I can act normal but it puts alot of stress on me to do things and causes me anxiety...I can control the anxiety to a degree by telling myself im fine over and over, but its the feeling in the back of my head like im farther away and cant focus ....like I just dont want to be here. I have a son I love so much and want to be here for him, but that feeling gets so strong.
I would venture to say it might be anxiety. But obviously I cannot diagnose you on this alone. Have you gone to a counselor? I might be helpful to you to see someone right away. You don’t want to do anything rash and have your son lose his mother. Sometimes we get thoughts in our head and we get confused about what is real. Talking to someone can help so much because they can give you feedback and help you realize what is what. Did something ever happen to you, Nancy? How long have you been like this and when did it start?
Hang in there.
I understand what you feel with the "not here" feeling. I feel like I can think real thoughts and respond correctly to people but in my mind I feel like I'm not really here or fear of my mind completely erasing or leaving my body. I dont know if you feel that as well? I keep thinking this is something else wrong with my brain or something or is it actually anxiety. I question everything about myself now. It's been a long month and in ready for this to pass.
This is very similar to what I am going through Marissa. It's really hard to explain to others. Feels like I am going through the motions of the day but nothing really regesters in my mind. Everything is done on an autopilot. From everything that I read though I understand that it is a symptom of anxiety. One of the scariest ones. Hope you feel better soon.
Yes, this is anxiety and when you react in fear to it it is called secondary anxiety. One thing I want to put out there is to google "Candida symptoms" and "Candida diet". This is a diet designed to lower anxiety. You eliminate most sugars and vinegar. It's based on the fact that Candida, a normal part of our bodily flora, can become overgrown and its chemical byproducts can play havoc and cause anxiety and depression. Look into this as a possible cause and it may help you. What helps me is to eat healthy, get exercise, and repeat affirmations such as "I'm feeling better and better" or whatever phrase works for you. When I had so much negative chatter in my mind that helped to drown it out.
One of my biggest anxieties is my mind going blank and forgetting everything. I know it is completely irrational, but the first time it happened to me 3 years ago it put me into a wicked anxiety loop. Now I just try to tell myself "so what, what's the worst that can happen." Easier said than done. When my mind doesn't feel like it is there I just call it my brain fog. I feel bad that you feel this way, but it also makes me feel a little better seeing someone else with the same type of thing.
thanks for the reply Jodi, I am seeing someone but she is not much help as she does not offer councel as much as medication,I went off of a medication and had this occur, and keep feeling more and more like I am not really here, and not sure why as I love my boy so much and want to be here for him, but I guess there are times where I wonder what the point is to life, I am taking a medication now called cipralex and am really hoping it does help me,I have had numerous things happen in my life, losses and traumas, but have been through councelling and thought I was better, I had been on effexor for fibromyalgia for years and once I went off of it I started to present with these issues and am having such a hard time getting back to myself, your post here gave me some hope as its positive that this will not stay like this, I dont want to lose touch with my boy which is what I am most afraid of, that I will forget I have him somehow....not sure what that is about, I am fighting every day to go out and try to keep contact with reality it just seems like I am walking around in my own head alot.
Since I am not a MD, I cannot comment or give advise on medication. BUt going to someone for counseling again seems to be in order. Sometimes we feel better and then later in our life we get down to a further level of healing. This doesn't mean you are not really better, it is just the next layer. I am glad you are getting out. Keep that up. Stay out of your head as much as possible. Make sure you are speaking to your doctor about the side effects of the med changes. Hold on and get yourself to a counseling. I hear your desire to live and be OK. I know you can do this.
I get this same exact feeling! Especially how you said you can control the anxiety to a degree but its the feeling in the back of your head like you're so distant and far away. I wish I just had a panic attack from something I could pinpoint, but instead I have constant feelings of not feeling real. Sometimes I am okay with it and I can be strong and tell myself "this will pass, there's nothing wrong with you. It's just anxiety." But then it gradually worsens because I start getting overwhelmed and panic when the feelings don't go away. It's so horrible not being able to concentrate or "connect" with people and the world around me. I'm 34 weeks pregnant and having a baby soon and my anxiety was fine for almost a year and during my pregnancy up until just a few weeks ago when I hit my third trimester. That's the main thing I can think of that would be triggering my anxiety. All I can think about is the baby coming and feeling like this after she is here and I imagine myself so crazy and feeling like this that I won't even be able to take care of her :( I am so glad someone else feels this way though and that maybe I'm not going crazy. My therapist told me that if I question myself and I'm afraid of going crazy, then chances are I am not because crazy people don't know they are crazy and don't question it or even realize! I am also in my last semester of college right now in a very fast paved medical program. Graduation is right around my due date and I'm so stressed. My mom says I should take it easy on myself because I have so many stressors and should give myself a break. She says no wonder I have anxiety, that she would be anxious too if she had all this on her plate. When my anxiety is this bad though, all I can think about is how uncomfortable I feel. My voice is constantly talking in my head and trying to analyze how to fix this, what it could be, etc. I sometimes even convince myself this is a medical disorder and I'll be stuck like this forever. I have had anxiety all my life and started struggling with these feelings of being unreal about 3-4 years ago. At one point it was so bad I wanted to die so bad also. I still have those feelings now but I dismiss them right away. I feel terrible and guilty for my anxiety feelings because I have a great family and I'm having a baby soon, graduating college, I feel like I should be happy :(
I have good news for you. Thinking you'll be like this forever is your trigger. You know you won't. Anxiety can and does go away. You can get rid of it. The second bit of good news is that (and I know this bc I was uber anxious when I was pregnant!) if you breast feeding, the oxytocin this releases is a wonderful anti anxiety! I was going crazy during my pregnancy and once I had the baby it went away completely. Also, holding and cuddling a sleeping or staring baby is the best meditation in the world. You'll calm right down!
Love to you, sweet mama!
Thank you, I am just freaking out lately! Yesterday was a better day for me. But today I had a panic attack again when my boyfriend left for work and I was at the house all alone. I got a crazy "unreal" feeling. It's like I'm not myself and I can't think straight, my thoughts get distant and it's scary. Sometimes my body feels fine but inside my head I feel weird. Then I think what if I have some type of disease or disorder or something is wrong with my brain!? Can pregnancy cause anxiety to become worse? I haven't had any issues with my anxiety for the past year or two. It just started when I entered my third trimester and gradually had gotten worse to the point of where I'm afraid to be alone or be certain places because I will feel this way. Im just so scared and frustrated it won't go away because I don't want to feel like this when the baby comes. I think, "what if I feel unreal still and can't I next with her like I usually feel when I have this?" Or "what if I go crazy and can't take care of her because I can't even take care I myself during this!?" Just feels like I'm in slow motion lately. My mom and everyone tells me, even the doctor, that I should be feeling extremely tired and my hormones are all out of whack lately. This is just the worst scary feeling. I tell myself this time it is different and something IS wrong with me this time, but as I know from past experience, anxiety will try and convince you that this time it isn't anxiety and this time it's worse, etc. It feels like it for sure but nobody understands what I mean when I tell them this :(
I hear all the time, "This time it is worse." I heard the same thing from a client every week for two years. Actually from many clients. You are right, this is the tactic of the Anxiety. It means what meaning you give it. Hormones can throw off your anxiety, and so your sense of reality, out of control. Busyness of caretaking will kick in when the baby comes. You'll be distracted away from the panic. Oxytocin will take care of you. Forget the house or the worries and just sit and hold your warm beautiful bundle. Imagine this. See yourself in the big chair holding him or her. See yourself smiling. Imagine yourself relaxed and worry free in this scene. Do this imagery three to twelve times a day. Drink red clover tea.
If you feel this when the baby comes, you can get your hormones checked out by an herbalist and you'll be fine.
Hope this helps, also I do online therapy if you need some more!
I am glad to read that someone else feels terrible and disconnected while pregnant. Im only 9wks pregnant and have a history of anxiety but it hasn't bothered me in like 4yrs but as soon as I hit the 6wks mark I had full blown Anxiety!!! It is so scary and it feels like it is never going to go away this time. Everyone keeps telling me its my hormones and it will get easier the first trimester is the hardest, i hope they are right.
I think they might be right. Try not to be afraid of it. This will help it go away when the hormones calm. Try to get massages and other things that will help you stay grounded! xoJ
Hey Nancy, it sounds like what you are experiencing is called 'depersonalization' and or 'derealization' which are both prevalent in anxiety and depression. Usually when you can get the anxiety/depression to go away the DP/DR will go away also. There is a great online community called www.dpselfhelp.com. Hope that helps!
Jodi, I guess I didnt answer your question of how long and when it started, I think I was feeling a bit like this for a few months, but it was once I got off effexor completely that it started to worsen and it has been about two months now of feeling like I have to fight to stay here and seems to get worse some days. I need some hope things will improve and I wont lose myself completely.