Depersonalisation disorder: clinical features of 204 cases

Dawn Baker, Elaine Hunter, Michelle V. Lambert, Emma Lawrence, Nicholas Medford, Maxine Patel, Carl Senior, Mauricio Sierra, Mary L. Phillips, Anthony S. David

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Depersonalisation disorder is a poorly understood and underresearched syndrome.

Aims To carry out a large and comprehensive clinical and psychopathological survey of a series of patients who made contact with a research clinic.

Method A total of 204 consecutive eligible referrals were included: 124 had a full psychiatric examination using items of the Present State Examination to define depersonalisation/derealisation and 80 had either a telephone interview (n=22) or filled out a number of self-report questionnaires. Cases assessed were diagnosed according to DSM—IV criteria.

Results The mean age of onset was 22.8 years; early onset was associated with greater severity. There was a slight male preponderance. The disorder tended to be chronic and persistent. Seventy-one per cent met DSM—IV criteria for primary depersonalisation disorder. Depersonalisation symptom scores correlated with both anxiety and depression and a past history of these disorders was commonly reported. ‘Dissociative amnesia’ was not prominent.

Conclusions Depersonalisation disorder is a recognisable clinical entity but appears to have significant comorbidity with anxiety and depression. Research into its aetiology and treatment is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-433
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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