Challenging The Idea Of What It Means To Take Care Of Our Mental Health

Welcome To The Outside The Box Project

What is The Outside the Box Project?

Anxiety and Depression have been the focus of mental health discussions for years and there is a significant need to start looking at the bigger picture.  Symptoms present themselves in numerous ways and are often signs of other disorders rather than just “anxiety” or “depression.”  The Outside the Box Project aims to help us all gain a better understanding of our mental health and the various disorders that naturally occur over our lifetimes.
One of our missions is to challenge our traditional ways of thinking about what it means to take care of ourselves.  The Project addresses evidence-based ways of bettering our mental health Outside the Box of traditional methods.  The current focus of The Outside the Box Project is to raise awareness about Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder and other Dissociative Disorders.

What are Dissociative Disorders?

Dissociative Disorders are highly prevalent Mental Health Disorders that affect around 10% of the population, but have little recognition within society and the medical community. They can cause an impaired awareness of actions, thoughts, physical sensations, and identity. Evidence shows they have an enormous societal and individual cost and many of those who suffer from them will never receive a diagnosis. In addition to the lack of societal awareness, they are treatment resistant, underfunded, and under-researched.
Dissociation is a process that provides protective psychological containment, detachment from, and even physical analgesia (an inability to feel pain) for overwhelming experiences, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature. Dissociation is conceptualized as analogous to the “animal defensive reaction” of freezing in the face of predation, when fight/flight is impossible. Dissociation is defined in the DSM-5 as a disruption of the usually integrated functions of: consciousness, memory, awareness of body and/or self, environment, and identity. [1]

What is Depersonalization/ Derealization Disorder?

Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder is a Dissociative Disorder frequently misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety.  Those affected often feel empty or numb and have difficulty expressing full ranges of emotions. It leaves those affected feeling as if they are disconnected or detached from one’s body and thoughts.  DPDR is not a psychotic condition; those affected are acutely aware that what they are perceiving is abnormal.
Depersonalization/Derealization is the 3rd most common mental health condition next to anxiety and depression, but is still under-recognized and under-researched.  Most people will experience DPDR at some point in their life, but for many the Depersonalized state does not alleviate and becomes a chronic condition.

Depersonalization/ Derealization Disorder Statistics

Average Age of Onset
Average Number of Years It Takes to Diagnose From the Point of Symptoms Appearing
Current Estimated Number of U.S. Citizens Living with DPDR Disorder
Known Cures or Specific Treatments

DPDR Organizations

Initiative for Depersonalization Studies

The IDS works to raise awareness for and support those who are affected by Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder.

Unreal Charity

Unreal is a United Kingdom based charity dedicated to raising awareness about Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder that launched recently this year.


The National Center for Biotechnology Information is a great resource for information regarding mental and physical health. Much of the information on this site was gathered through the Center’s website.

ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs Database allows you to see doctors that have accepted payments from pharmaceutical companies for promotional talks or research and consulting, among other things. This tool allows you to search for general payments (excluding research and ownership interests) made from August 2013 to December 2018.


MAPS is one of the groups paving the way with research into how psychedelics can assist in treating mental health conditions within a proper clinical setting. In addition to MAPS, Johns Hopkins and Imperial College London have opened their own psychedelic research wings.

Dissociative Disorders

DPDR In The Media

Men's Health Article with Adam Duritz, lead singer of Counting Crows, discussing his struggle with DPDR Disorder. The article suggests that Adam has recovered, but unfortunately, he is still affected by it.

Logic describing his experiences with DPDR Disorder.  “I was having this crazy physical feeling like I was gonna faint…I felt like my soul was leaving my body.”

Musician and writer, Dodie Clark describing life with DPDR.  “I didn’t know what it was for the first 5 years…I also thought it was just a part of growing up and that’s why people glorified childhood so much, because it’s so much more vivid.”

Cavaliers at Wizards 11/21/14
Kevin Love's article from The Player's Tribune regarding his mental health and a panic attack he experienced during a stressful time in his life. The description is very similar to that of DPDR. "It’s hard to describe, but everything was spinning, like my brain was trying to climb out of my head."

DPDR In The News

"Enlightenment's Evil Twin There's a lot that psychologists still don't understand about depersonalization disorder, in which the self doesn't feel real"
"'I'm not me': A bizarre disorder leaves people feeling distant from their bodies"
"Depersonalisation disorder: 'I was unable to feel love'"
"Depersonalisation: Why Do I Feel Empty and Numb?"