First Advisor

Nadeeshani Jayasena

Date of Award

Spring 6-16-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors






Depersonalization -- Research, Depersonalization -- Prevention, Symptoms, Recreational drug use




Depersonalization/derealization disorder (DPDR) is a severely under-studied mental disorder, regardless of being relatively as prevalent as other serious mental illnesses (SMI) to the general population, such as schizophrenia and obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD). Due to the nature of the current body of work on the disorder, it's clear there is a need for further research, as there are only a few small scale studies that approach the contradistinction in symptomatology between varying onset triggers. This paper proposes an investigation into whether there is a distinction in severity, duration, and persistence of symptoms between individuals with DPDR triggered by drugs versus non-drug induced cases. The proposed study hypothesizes that symptoms in drug induced individuals will be significantly different from cases induced by other triggers. The outcome of symptoms may depend on many factors, a few such as whether or not an individual continues to experiment with drugs following the development of DPDR, running the risk of re-exposing themselves to a severe episode, whether or not symptoms rooted in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) retrigger dissociative episodes, and the potential of co-occurring hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) causing symptoms of perceptual disturbances. The proposed study will use a survey design to collect data from 175 participants, targeting individuals who are currently experiencing DPDR or DPDR-like symptoms, or have recovered from the disorder. Given that significant evidence of distinction is uncovered, this study may be the stepping stone to addressing and developing treatment options for DPDR sufferers in the future.


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