How is depersonalization/derealization disorder diagnosed?

If symptoms are present, an evaluation will be done with a complete medical history and physical examination. Although no laboratory tests diagnose dissociative disorders medically, various diagnostic tests such as blood tests or imaging (X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs) may be used to rule out physical illness or medication side effects.

If no physical illness is found, the person might be referred to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychiatric social worker, who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. They will perform a clinical interview to get a full picture of the person’s past experiences and current functioning. Some psychiatrists and psychologists may employ specialized tests (for example, the Dissociative Experiences Scale—DES) or a standard interview such as the Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociation (SCID-D).

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/20/2016.

References

  • American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013.
  • Carlson, E. B. & Putnam, F. W. DES: Dissociative Experiences Scale II Accessed 4/20/2016.
  • Mental Health America. Dissociation and Dissociative Disorders Accessed 4/20/2016.
  • Steinberg, M. Interviewers’ Guide to the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 1994.

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