Depersonalisation Disorder: Getting Medical Help Turns out a Challenging Task
It may sound surprising, but there are still health conditions that only few medical professionals are aware of. This is usually the case when it comes to rare or only recently recognized conditions. However, so-called depersonalisation disorder doesn’t seem to fit under this type of conditions.
It’s been more than a century that this disorder was first mentioned in medical circles. Frankly speaking, it really was considered rare at the time and for many decades afterwards. However, according to some psychiatrists, one in 100 people is believed to have depersonalisation disorder nowadays, which makes it rather common than rare. Despite all that, most GPs have never heard of the condition. The explanation is quite simple: even today there are very few medical schools and colleges that mention this disorder in their academic programmes and even fewer that teach their students how to treat it.
As a result, the unlucky ones living with depersonalisation disorder have serious difficulties trying to get any professional medical help – and that’s the state of affairs as of today even in the most developed countries with best health care systems in the world.
There is only one clinic in the UK that specializes in depersonalisation disorder. The facility is rather small and can have only 80 patients at the same time, while it’s estimated there are more than 600,000 people living with the condition in the UK.
But problems don’t stop just there. Dr Elaine Hunter, the head of the clinic, says they are allowed to provide medical service only to people over 18. Because of this policy, the clinic is obligated to turn down adolescents with depersonalisation disorder. “Sometimes we get terrified patients who are just 15 years old… and we’re so concerned that there is hardly anything we can do,” Dr Hunter says. She has also mentioned one patient who came to the clinic as an adult while the disorder first manifested when he was only 13. As a result of the condition the patient couldn’t leave the house for two years, during which he had about 10 panic attacks almost every day.
Few medical professionals that look into depersonalisation disorder claim that the incidence is very likely to gradually increase even farther as the condition is believed to be linked with the drastic changes in modern life that have taken place in the last decade. According to some psychiatrists, even now depersonalisation disorder has become so common that it is equated with the incidences of such well-known mental disorders as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia.