Depersonalization and Vestibular Issues

For the first couple of months after I got “sick,” I experienced a great deal of depersonalization. I was feeling very detached from the world, almost as if my head was not my own. (Sorry, I know that sounds so crazy.) I walked around feeling as if I had taken a huge dose of a cold medication. That weird sensation gradually went away only to return a few days ago.

I am recovering from cervical fusion surgery and had been wearing a hard collar for a month that immobilized my neck. I “graduated” from using the collar a few days ago and then experienced horrible motion sickness and a bobble-head type sensation once I started moving around without the collar. The motion sickness lasted for a couple of days and then went away.

I now have that horrible depersonalization feeling (out-of-body sensation) again. I am wondering if my brain is trying to adapt to using the proprioreceptors in my neck again to coordinate with the other inputs from the vestibular system?? It can’t be just a coincidence that the motion sickness and depersonalization sensations started again once the hard collar was removed, can it?

I found an article discussing the link between depersonalization and vestibular issues. Here’s an excerpt and a link to the article:

"We propose that derealisation occurs in vestibular patients because their distorted vestibular signals create a misleading frame of spatial reference which mismatches with the other senses, giving rise to illusory, “unreal” perceptions of the patient's transactions with the physical world."

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2006 June; 77(6): 760–766.
Published online 2006 February 7. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.2005.075473
PMCID: PMC2077438
Depersonalisation/derealisation symptoms in vestibular disease

It’s not the same, but for years I have suffered from spontaneous episodes of derealisation that last about 20mins.
I never knew what they were until I got diagnosed with MAV and having them since I was about 12 was very frightening.
It feels as though I am locked inside a world that is not real. The world sounds funny, almost echoey- like I am hearing sounds but they don’t belong in my world.
I know it’s different, but I wanted to let you know that I have something similar, though not the same and that in my research of this, I have found that depersonalization and derealisation are very much real issues that can be linked to migraine.

Your link is interesting and I really hope this episode starts to lift for you very soon.

Hi there,
My inner ear doctor just diagnosed me two weeks ago with MAV. I’ve been having symptoms since March 2012. I have those unreal feelings and it’s very scary because it feels like you are not here and in some sort of coma or bad dream. How did you get over these feelings? Is your medicine helping take them away? If so, please let me know what medicine you are on. I cannot drive in fear of passing out and I have a two year old little girl that I want to be able to enjoy my time with more.
Thank you,

For me, the depersonalisation completely goes away when I drive – I found this out when I rushed to the doctor, of course. On the other hand, I get that horrible feeling when I drive for more then 45 minutes, so it’s both a cure and a cause.

Two tips:
epsom salt (magnesium) bath
20 minute youtube meditation, works even with my child bouncing on me!

I too go through the derealization feelings. Some days are worse than others. The first really bad one gave my my first panic attack. I’ve since just learned to let them go and eventually, sooner or later, I will feel normal again.


Can only sympathise with you. I had derealisation the first time I had this/labs in March 2012. It then lifted with all other symptoms for 6 months until it returned again in Oct 12 and I’ve had it ever since.

My specialist Dr Surenthiran said that Derealisation goes hand in hand with migraine. It’s a very unsettling effect of vestibular issues/migraine but it is something which will resolve. The only thing I can advise is to try and stay as busy as you can and not focus on it.

Good luck.


— Begin quote from "Cockrel01"

The only thing I can advise is to try and stay as busy as you can and not focus on it.

— End quote


Stay focused on whatever you are doing and you will get through it. If you get anxious, just tell yourself that, no matter what, you are going to make it through it just fine.

Where I live, we are having some really crappy weather come through again - expecting about 4-8" of snow, after a couple of days in the 50’s F. I had some really bad derealization issues today that tested my anxiety, but I got through it by just concentrating on what I was doing at work. It finally eased up in the afternoon.

I would say that this is the worst symptom, by far. :frowning: