I tried marijuana for the first time in December of 2013. I did it a few times after that, each time feeling fine before during and after. Then in February of 2014 I had a really “bad high” and was freaking out and hyperventilating the whole time. A day after I felt weirdly detached from the world, like looking through a screen, and didn’t recognize my body, also really anxious. Internet tells me it’s derealization/depersonalization and anxiety, and I live with it after reading up on it. I feel like it’s mostly gone away, only slight depersonalization and derealization and anxiousness (which worsens when I feel anxiousness), and I’m terrified of marijuana now. But someone brought schizophrenia to my attention and now i’m terrified that I have it and scared that I got dereal/deperson because I’m schizophrenic, and that I won’t heal over time like I was told. I’ll admit I’m scared to find out, but I’ve gotta know. Can I heal from Derealization and Depersonalization, because I’ve read about it? Am I Schizophrenic? I know anxiety is essentially stuck with me, but I’ve found ways to calm that so I’m not that worried about it, but are there more effective ways to deal with it? Thank you for reading this and helping. Sorry I wrote so much.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual For Mental Health Disorders (DSM), the book that professionals use to diagnose mental health disorders, a diagnosis is only made when an individual meets a certain number of criteria associated with each disorder. Derealization and depersonalization are not symptoms of schizophrenia. You also did not describe having any other symptoms of schizophrenia. Thus, a schizophrenia diagnosis is unlikely.
Generally speaking, it’s not uncommon for people with anxiety to fear that they might develop schizophrenia. People with anxiety tend to fixate on what they consider to be “worst-case scenarios.” For some people, schizophrenia would constitute a worst-case scenario.
Derealization and depersonalization are often associated with traumatic experiences and trauma-related disorders. Anecdotally, they also tend to be associated with people who have had negative experiences with drug use, marijuana in particular. Using drugs and subsequently experiencing feelings of derealization and or depersonalization seems to be a relatively common experience. I receive many letters like yours from people who are dealing with the psychological aftermath of their illicit drug use.
Thankfully your symptoms are improving but to protect your psychological health, it would be in your best interest to never again use illicit drugs. Illicit drug use is dangerous for the very reasons that you have described in your letter.
Because you continue to experience anxiety, consider consulting a mental health professional. Depending upon the nature and intensity of your symptoms, medication might also be beneficial. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle