Signs of Disconnection in Depression and Tips to Reconnect
Signs of Disconnection in Depression and Tips to Reconnect
Anyone with a depression disorder, especially major depression, will understand what you mean when you say “disconnected”. The term refers to a range of medically recognized symptoms including emotional blunting, emotional detachment, feeling numb, and feeling disconnection from yourself or from others. For many of us, disconnection is a natural symptom of major depressive disorder. While a normal symptom, it can dramatically interfere with your ability to live a normal, happy life.
If you feel disconnected, depressed, and emotionally cut off from the people and things you love, that’s a good sign you’re feeling disconnection. The following signs of disconnection are often symptoms of depression and there are real steps you can take to improve those symptoms so you can get back to your life.
Inability to Enjoy Things
If you find that you’re not enjoying things you used to, you might be struggling with disconnection or emotional blunting. Friends, family, hobbies, food, sex, and other activities should bring joy. Most of the things you love should activate the reward circuit to send a rush of serotonin through the brain, so that you feel pleasure. When you’re detached, you fail to experience that, normally because serotonin levels are too low (or too high) and you’re unable to correctly regulate the reward circuit. Instead of experiencing and enjoying the things you love, you move through life in a single haze of depression or even numbness.
This symptom of disconnection is a strong sign that you need therapy and maybe even medical treatment. Breaking out of numbness might be a matter of changing perspective, getting new insight, and getting psychological help in doing so. It might also mean going to your doctor and eventually getting a prescription to improve how your brain regulated serotonin. For many people with depression, the answer is both. However, many types of depression are treatable using therapy and counseling only.
You Feel Disconnected with Yourself
The person in the mirror looks like a stranger. You often feel like a robot, not human, or like you’re watching yourself in third person. You feel like living is moving through water or nothing feels real. This type of disconnection is a major sign of depression as well as PTSD, Schizophrenia, and some other disorders. It’s also a major sign that you might need professional help.
For many people, disconnection with the self is a result of stress, purposefully disconnecting to avoid feeling or dealing with emotions, and as a trauma response. For this reason, you should seek out professional help including therapy to help you cope with trauma, learn to manage and deal with emotions, and to manage stress. Taking stress management and personal regulation classes and courses may also help. For example, practices like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness have shown to help with disconnection, improving how people connect with themselves. Similarly, engaging in physical activities like sports where you are forced to connect with your body and do so in an active fashion can help you to reconnect with yourself.
Derealization is the idea that nothing around you is real. It can be a primary symptom, it might also come and go, with other symptoms like depersonalization filling in the blanks. Where depersonalization feels like you aren’t real, derealization feels like everything else isn’t real. You might feel like you’re walking through a dream, you might have trouble differentiating dreams from reality, and you might struggle to decide if you’re imagining things or not. These types of symptoms can be indicators that you haven’t slept enough, that you’re suffering from schizophrenia, or that you’re having a bad reaction to medication. It’s also a common symptom of severe depression.
Here, therapy and long-term treatment is still your best option to right how your brain processes things and to return to normal. Derealization is often a response to extreme stress (internal, caused by depression or external, caused by stressing factors). Learning stress management, coping techniques, and working on physical activities that connect you with the world are important. It’s also critical that you ensure you’re getting enough sleep for your mental health (7-8 hours for men, 8-9 hours for women), keeping a regular schedule (which will help you to ground your perception), and spending enough time around other people. Avoiding large doses of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other stimulants is also important.
Why? Most of these things exacerbate symptoms that are already there. If you get a regular sleeping schedule, manage stress, stay away from drugs and alcohol (caffeine is a drug), and keep a regular schedule filled with grounding activities and people, you’ll likely see improvements. However, this can take time. If you’re in danger in the meantime, even if by being in danger of interacting badly with your environment, you should seek out help now so that you and the people around you stay safe.
You Have Trouble Maintaining Relationships
You care about people, but you often lack motivation to engage with them, to do things with them, or to see them at all. Where you used to feel rewarding sensations of love and contentment around people you cared about, you’re now just on edge, drained, or worse, numb. It’s not that you don’t care anymore, it’s just that your brain isn’t making things work. This again relates the reward circuit and the lack of dopamine (which provides motivation) kicking in to motivate and reward you for social interaction.
This kind of disconnection can be extremely difficult for you and the people around you to deal with. Depression cuts you off from the people you love, but you need people to get better. And, if people aren’t aware of your condition, they’re likely to take cold, disaffected attitudes as rejection and be hurt. You might lose them as part of your life.
Having clear, open conversations with your friends and family is important. It can be difficult to voice that you need help, that you are disconnecting, and that this is affecting your life in major ways, but it is important for you and for them. In some cases, you might benefit from going to family therapy to ensure that you can build the kinds of relationships you want and need. It’s also crucial to express how you feel, how you care about them, you just suffer from disconnection and disassociation. The good news is that more interaction tends to overwhelm depression to a certain degree, providing you do so in a way that is not overwhelming or too taxing. Manage your energy levels, spend time around people you care about, and engage in things that are actually enjoyable for everyone involved.
Disconnection is a major sign of depression. While there are many things you can do to improve symptoms on your own, getting treatment should always be your first step. Depending on your existing diagnosis and previous treatment, you might need medication, behavioral therapy, counseling, or other forms of therapy. Most importantly, these should help you to reduce symptoms, manage those symptoms moving forward, and get back to your life. Reconnecting to your life, your friends, family, and emotions is possible and it will help.
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression or other mental health issues, it’s important to seek out help. Modern mental health treatment uses a combination of counseling, behavioral therapy, and life skills development to help individuals recover and learn the tools to live a healthy, happy life.