When Does DP Become a Disorder?

I have thought about this long and hard over the years, and for me it has essentially been 50 years ... Disclaimer: do not take the chronicity of my problems as your fate!
One day at a time.

My DP and DR have changed over time. I attribute that to everything from the deaths of my parents (1990 and 2001-- both abusive and absent), therapy, medications, distractions of all kinds (from university courses), to hobbies, to work to volunteering.

I also have GAD I now know I had ... probably since I was born. I also had panic attacks which have DP/DR as a secondary symptom. These days, I have a lot of anticipatory anxiety without an increase in my "daily" DP/DR. Very odd. In the past I anticipated DP/DR and that brought on anticipatory anxiety OF the DP/DR. When I have horrible DP/DR THAT is the focus of my attention. I have TERROR, not anxiety.

At any rate, I would say in the majority of psychiatric DP/DR, the symptom is indeed secondary. But a secondary symptom can BECOME CHRONIC as in my case. Again, research at the IoP would indicate ... as I interpret it ... that "Depersonalization Disorder" is rare. The description in the DSM-IV is incomplete and misleading. I hope to God they get a better definition in the new DSM in 2014.

And clearly, each case is unique. Every single case here [on my DP support board] includes more than just DP/DR. If DP/DR were the ONLY symptoms per the DSM, it would be true Depersonalization Disorder. Many here have noted over the years they recall being anxious on some level before the DP hit. Or they were under stress. Or they had a bad drug trip that included panic and anxiety.

I have not had a HORRIBLE DP/DR experience in about 5 years. Now my anxiety is high as it was when I was a teen.

DP/DR, IMHO, becomes a CHRONIC SECONDARY SYMPTOM in many situations -- not necessarily a DISORDER which would be "pure" (and that definition is ridiculous save in neurological cases, IMHO), and it depends on so many factors to reduce the symptom. Pure DP/DR is described in neurological disorders more frequently, and in taking antibiotics and in Lyme Disease. Epilepsy auras as well.

Meantime, fight the good fight! As best you can, in any way that helps.