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Can Anxiety Make You Zone Out

author
Maria Garcia
• Monday, 11 January, 2021
• 7 min read

In cases of severe anxiety, a person may feel as though they're going crazy. Derealization is also completely subjective, making the experience sometimes very difficult to understand unless you've experienced it.

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Contents

It's not entirely clear what occurs in the brain to cause people to enter a trance-like state and feel out from reality. It is believed to be a natural coping mechanism created within our bodies.

During intense periods of anxiety (as occurs with panic attacks), the mind seems to decide it's going to tune the world out in order to, at least temporarily, eliminate thinking about the anxiety inducing stimuli. Since the mind keeps working during this ‘tune out, ’ the world becomes a place that feels unreal.

For those who have not personally experienced derealization it may help to imagine being transported into a place that you do not recognize nor do you understand. Your brain’s failure to process the information being taken in by your sense (sight, sound, etc) results in even the most familiar places looking unfamiliar and strange.

You may feel like you're watching something going on with no understanding of what it is, or that the world is a dream that you aren't able to escape. In some cases, derealization may be combined with depersonalization, which can make it feels like you're watching yourself.

Other anxiety symptoms may make the feeling of derealization worse. During anxiety attacks your pupils may dilate, and this can cause unusual vision.

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Anxiety may also weaken your muscles, making you feel lighter. There are countless ways that your anxiety symptoms may interact and potentially exacerbate one another.

If your derealization is so persistent that it's altering your sense of reality, or if it lasts for a long period of time, you should contact a doctor immediately. Doctors and psychologists generally agree that the best way to stop derealization is with mindfulness.

Ever spaced out over a long, difficult book and realize you haven’t read a single word in 10 minutes? It’s also pretty common to experience prolonged spaciness or brain fog if you’re dealing with grief, a painful breakup, or other difficult life circumstances.

In these cases, zoning outran serve as a coping tactic of sorts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Zoning out is considered a form of dissociation, but it typically falls at the mild end of the spectrum.

This can happen when your brain recognizes that toucan complete your current task, whether that’s folding laundry or walking to work, without really thinking about it. Still, the following factors canmakeyou more prone to zoning out, even when the task really does require your full attention.

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A similar process might also happen during high-focus activities, like a precise dance routine. This is often a coping tactic that helps you keep stress and overwhelm at a distance until you feel equipped to deal with them.

If you’ve gone through any kind of trauma, this tendency to zone out might border on more severe dissociation. In the face of extreme stress, some people respond by shutting down, or completely detaching.

Shutdown dissociation can affect function in the central nervous system, which can lead to a more total absence of presence. Plus, when you’re really involved in doing something you enjoy, whether that’s drawing, working out, playing video games, or reading your favorite book, you might feel totally absorbed and not notice what’s happening around you.

If youzoneout to cope with something difficult, like an argument with your partner or a lecture from your boss, you might feel less distress at the moment. Maybe youzoneout while driving on the freeway because you’ve driven the same route every day for the past 7 years.

Still, even though you know the road well, losing focus while driving can easily lead to an accident. Dissociation can have a protective function when people, especially children, can ’t escape from a traumatic or distressing experience.

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Logging these episodes can give insight into any patterns of mind wandering and help you take note of your thoughts before zoning out. If you’re washing dishes, for example, stay present by thinking about the fragrance of the dish soap, the roughness of the sponge, the temperature of the water, and the satisfaction you feel when you get a filthy pot sparkling clean.

Good self-care techniques can help you manage stress and overwhelm more easily, which can make zoning out less likely. Short, frequent breaks to stretch, rest, and have an energizing snack can increase your productivity and concentration.

Generally speaking, you don’t need to worry about zoning out occasionally, especially if it happens mostly when you’re engrossed in a task, and it doesn’t seem to have any negative effects on your daily life. But frequent daydreaming, mind wandering, or brain fog can sometimes be symptoms of other issues, including ADHD and depression.

It’s important to talk to a healthcare professional if your zoning out is accompanied by other systems, including: If your child appears to be daydreaming but doesn’t respond when you try to get their attention, it’s a good idea to see their pediatrician.

Getting in the zone while enjoying a good run and realizing you’ve lost track of the last few minutes probably isn’t something you need to worry about. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health.

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Depersonalization is also, in some cases, a symptom of depression, drug abuse, or even the result of taking anti- anxiety medications. Although the exact reason(s) why depersonalization occurs, there are some hypotheses around it being a way one’s brain copes with stress.

Intrinsically, certain parts of the brain will shut down during periods of depersonalization, disconnecting a person from the emotions. Nonetheless, the mind tends to over-focus on the feelings of the tongue, causing a false sense of it being enlarged.

Finally, during times of increased anxiety and panic attacks, neurotransmitters in the brain are often firing at a much more rapid rate. Some believe these neurotransmitters are activating or deactivating parts of one’s brain that can contribute to the dissociative state of depersonalization.

Hyperventilation reduces blood flow to the brain and causes other symptoms that can result in intense stress. Learning to slow down breathing can cause a dramatic difference in one’s stress and therefore the intensity/length of depersonalization.

Finding positive distractions, such as calling a supportive friend, or talking to those around you, can be helpful. Although depersonalization can be a difficult topic to discuss, it can prove extremely helpful to get out of one’s head and be open and honest with trusted individuals.

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In the same respect, jogging can be very beneficial to managing stress, anxiety, and thus decreasing one’s chances of experiencing depersonalization. Engaging in exercise can be a grounding experience, and bring the mind back to the present moment.

Running can be hard when a person is having anxiety (due to rapid heartbeat and other difficult symptoms). Depersonalization is not dangerous, so the key is to learn ways to reduce the extent of your panic attacks and your anxiety.

No matter what, you'll still need to address your overall anxiety levels so that you decrease the likelihood of experiencing depersonalization. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

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