Does Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Cause Anxiety or Depression?

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The phenomenon that Alice experiences in the story Alice in Wonderland is not just a tell-tale, but experienced by people in real life in the form of a neurological disorder.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Symptoms and Treatment

The feeling of shrinking to the size that everything around you looks abnormally more extensive, or your body has enlarged itself to the level that everything around you seems tiny, is very genuine to the people suffering from Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

Does Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Cause Anxiety or Depression?

Human beings deal with a wide range of disorders and syndromes some time or the other. From eating to neurological to psychotic, these disorders gravely affect our mental and physical health, including the thinking process, mood, and behavioral patterns. One of these disorders is the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, in which everything from size to time seems like an illusion to the individual.

A study collectively conducted by the students of Segal Institute of Clinical Research, USA and Larkin Community Hospital, the USA, on a 29-year-old Hispanic female established that the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome symptoms includes depression, anxiety, frequent panic attacks, and comorbid migraine.

Due to the distorted body image perception, the person suffering from the syndrome is most likely to undergo depression. The distortions and hallucinations terrify the individual and give rise to anxiety and panic as well, among other symptoms.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Definition

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that causes disorientation and distortions of visual perceptions, time and body image in a patient. The distortions in one’s visual perception make the patient perceive the sizes of external objects, including their own body, incorrectly.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Hallucinations

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The temporary episodes of visual and somatic alterations lead to personality changes and hallucinations. The person suffering from it may feel smaller or larger than their actual body size. They may visualize that the room they are in, or any of the things in their surroundings, seem to shift and/or appear farther or closer than it is.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome may also affect your senses such as vision, hearing, and touch, making things seem unusually small or large. The individual may also lose a sense of time, and it may seem like it is passing by incredibly slowly or very fast.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Statistics

The lack of epidemiological studies on Alice in Wonderland Syndrome has led to very little data about its prevalence since there are not many established criteria.

However, a few studies have been conducted that have constituted that not more than 180 clinical cases of this syndrome have been diagnosed worldwide, which only included the cases that needed medical attention. Out of these, 50% of the patients showed a favorable prognosis. There have also been about 30% of transient cases among the general population that did not need professional help for the treatment of alice in wonderland syndrome.

One of the studies was conducted in Japan on a lot of 3224 adolescents. The study indicated micropsia and macropsia (both are variants of Alice in Wonderland disorder) in 7.3% of girls and 6.5% of boys among the total number of adolescents. It suggested that the occurrence of the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome may not precisely be rare.

How Do You Get Alice in Wonderland Syndrome?

  • According to a study conducted in 2016, the most common causes of the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome are migraines and Epstein Barr virus infections. It is supposedly one of the initial symptoms of the Epstein-Barr virus and mainly occurs in children. Migraineis a typical symptom of alice in wonderland syndrome amongst the adult population.
  • There are a few other infectious diseases that can cause the occurrence of this syndrome. Some of them include,
    • Influenza A virus
    • Mycoplasma
    • Typhoid encephalopathy
    • Lyme
    • Neuroborreliosis
    • varicella-zoster virus
    • streptococcus Pyogenes
    • Tonsillopharyngitis
  • There are other causes of this neurological syndrome, such as medication, brain lesions, psychiatric conditions, stroke, epilepsy, etc.
  • As per a 2014 case study, the syndrome could temporarily result from a brain tumor.
  • Head traumas can also lead to the occurrence of the syndrome.

Does Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Cause Depression?

As per a case report, a 74-year-old French man was admitted to the University Hospital for major depressive disorder and psychotic features. He had no family history of epilepsy or migraine, and was described as a jolly and social man by his wife.

After his admission to the hospital, the patient experienced the following conditions:

  • Loss of interest and pleasure
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe fatigue
  • Depressed mood
  • Persecutory and somatic delusions
  • Psychomotor retardation.

Ten days after the patient’s admission, the patient demonstrated delusional symptoms such as perceiving his hands and feet to have become smaller than before, and believed his clothes to have shrunk.

The aftermath of this report was that the symptoms exhibited by the patient supported the hypothesis made in a previous study on this syndrome, stating that major depressive disorder is a causal factor of the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

Does Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Cause Anxiety?

Micropsia and Macropsia are two common symptoms of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. It is a visual disorder that means that the person suffering from it will perceive the surrounding things as smaller or larger than their actual size. Dugs, migraines, neurological factors, and even glasses can fuel this condition in a person.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome was first reported in 3 children, 2 of which were teenagers, and one was as young as nine years old. The symptoms of the syndrome included anxiety-provoking episodes each day that lasted up to half an hour.

People suffering from Alice in Wonderland Syndromeperceive their bodies to have a distorted and disoriented image. Apart from a warped visual perception, they may also have a distorted auditory and tactile perception. These illusions and hallucinations can lead to overwhelming anxiety, fear, panic and discomfort in a person.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Facts

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  1. One of the most interesting Alice in Wonderland Syndrome facts is that Lewis Carol, the author of the book Alice in Wonderland, himself had this Syndrome. It is speculated that his personal experiences and visual perceptions influenced the story, resulting in the origin of some unusual aspects of the story.
  2. The occurrence of this syndrome may be rare, but this is because experts believe that it is under-diagnosed since very few studies prove otherwise. Epidemiological studies have not perfectly shown the prevalence of this syndrome amongst people.
  3. There is also no universally accepted way to diagnose this syndrome. The causes that are believed to generate the occurrence of this syndrome are pretty common, such as migraine and epilepsy, which is why one of the two people with the same symptoms may be diagnosed with AiWS, and the other may not.

Therapy for Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Treatment

Presently, the Syndrome does not have a standardized treatment plan.

Then how to treat Alice in Wonderland syndrome, you ask?

The course of treatment for this syndrome depends on the underlying cause of it. Take a look.

  • Meditation, psychotherapy, and relaxation techniques are generally used to treat this syndrome if it has been exacerbated by stress in an individual.
  • The clinical manifestation of the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome may be frequent and relapsing, and require long-term treatment to avoid the same. Therefore, therapies such as electro-convulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation are helpful to treat its underlying symptoms.
  • Approach a neurologist or a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, if you see a close one suffering from this syndrome.
  • If migraine is the source of this syndrome, preventive medication and managing a person’s diet can facilitate treatment.

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