Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Evidence-based treatment for Depersonalisation-derealisation Disorder (DPRD)

Eli Somer1*, Taryn Amos-Williams2 and Dan J Stein2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Social Work, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel

2 Department of Psychiatry, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

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BMC Psychology 2013, 1:20  doi:10.1186/2050-7283-1-20

Published: 28 October 2013



Depersonalisation-derealisation disorder (DPRD) is a distressing and impairing condition with a pathophysiology that is not well understood. Nevertheless, given the growing interest in its pathogenesis, and the publication of a number of treatment trials, a systematic review of randomised controlled pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy trials is timely.


A systematic search of articles on DPRD published from January 1980 to August 2012, using Cochrane methods, was conducted. All randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, somatic interventions and a blend of these modalities for the treatment of depersonalisation disorder were included in the review. Searches were carried out on multiple databases. The bibliographies of all identified trials were checked for additional studies and authors were contacted for published trials. No unpublished trials were found and no restrictions were placed on language and setting. Data extraction sheets were further designed to enter specified data from each trial and risk of bias information was identified. PRISMA guidelines were also followed to ensure that our methodology and reporting were comprehensive. Of the unique 1296 papers that were retrieved, four studies met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed.


Four RCTs (all within the duration of 12 weeks or less) met study criteria and were included (180 participants; age range 18–65 years). The four RCTs included two lamotrigine studies, one fluoxetine study and one biofeedback study. Evidence for the treatment efficacy of lamotrigine was found in one study (Cambridge Dissociation Scale, CDC: p < 0.001) with no evidence of effect for lamotrigine in the second study (CDS: p = 0.61 or Present State Examination: p = 0.17). Fluoxetine and biofeedback were not more efficacious than the control condition, although there was a trend for fluoxetine to demonstrate greater efficacy in those with comorbid anxiety disorder. The four studies had 'low' or 'unclear' risk of bias.


The limited data from randomised controlled trials on the pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy of DPRD demonstrates inconsistent evidence for the efficacy of lamotrigine, and no efficacy for other interventions. Additional research on this disorder is needed.

Depersonalisation disorder; Derealisation disorder; Depersonalisation-derealisation disorder; Depersonalisation syndrome; Derealisation syndrome; Depersonalisation-derealisation syndrome; Drug; Pharmacotherapy; Medication; Randomised control trial; RCT; Treatment