Does déjà vu cause anxiety attacks?

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Does déjà vu cause anxiety attacks?

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It is reported that deja vu can cause distress and resulting anxiety. Increased stress or anxiety leading to deja vu can in turn lead to increased feelings levels of déjà vu.

When an individual hasn’t experienced a certain situation before and the brain contradicts them by telling that they have it leaves an individual vulnerable to an anxiety attack.

Deja vu occurs between the ages of 15 to 25 and decreases progressively with age. This age bracket is commonly known to be more vulnerable to anxiety than the others due to various lifestyle, environmental and personal changes for thus reducing their threshold to an anxiety attack.

What is déjà vu?

Deja vu refers to the feelings one reports about having been done something or being present in a place before.

It’s derived from the French word which means “already seen”. Deja vu is known to leave an individual unsettled and with a considerable amount of distress.

Deja vu is commonly experienced by about 2/3 of the people around the globe. However, many researchers are still critical about the idea of déjà vu.

The reason that it is criticized is the lack of laboratory samples supporting the experience, further narrowing down its understanding and relevance in the real world.

 

What causes déjà vu?

Déjà vu is a neurological symptom. It is related to the features of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Recordings of the brain before the surgery of temporal epilepsy offer some insight into the mechanisms of déjà vu.

In the brain, part of the temporal cortex lies just below the hippocampus. Seizure discharges from this temporal cortex simultaneously activate two circuits in the hippocampus.

The simultaneous activation compresses time between the two brain functions, causing us to “remember the present,” or experience déjà vu.

When is déjà vu considered to be a concern leading to an anxiety attack?

Deja vu might be a matter of concern making individuals more vulnerable to anxiety attacks when:

  • It occurs frequently between a few times a month or a few times a year
  • It is followed by dreamlike memories or visual scenes that are abnormal
  • Followed by loss of consciousness, increased heart rate, or intense feelings of fear.

What are the symptoms of déjà vu?

It is believed that deja vu is sometimes a sign of seizures, especially epileptic seizures.

Some symptoms that individuals experience with intense feelings of déjà vu concerning the seizures are:

  • Lack of control over one’s muscles such as twitching or inability to move certain voluntary muscles.
  • Experience of sensory feeling such as touch, smell, vision, and hearing that is nonexistent
  • Unexplained and sudden feelings of sadness, anger, and joy
  • Repetitive behaviors such as twitching, blinking, repetitive mouth movements which are involuntary
  • An unusual feeling that a seizure is about to occur is usually termed aura.

What an anxiety attack caused by déjà vu looks like?

An anxiety attack makes an individual feel overwhelmed with fear, panic, a sense of loss of control over oneself and the environment post an experience of déjà vu.

The intensity of the anxiety attack might build up gradually over a few minutes after experiencing déjà vu and reaches its peak in about 10min and then subsides.

Anxiety attacks caused by déjà vu might ideally last for up to to 30 minutes.

Anxiety attacks caused by déjà vu  are characterized by a set of signs and symptoms such as:

  • Sweating
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sense of joking
  • Complaints of chest pain
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness
  • Fear of losing control over oneself and their environment
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Increased heart rate

These symptoms vary in severity from person to person and their experience of déjà vu. However, it is noted that many people experience anxiety attacks that are not significantly displayed.

What are some ways to manage anxiety attacks resulting from déjà vu?

Identify and acknowledge the triggers

The most significant strategy that can be used to control one’s anxiety attack caused by déjà vu could involve identifying and acknowledging the triggers.

Being able to recognize what makes an individual anxious makes them better equipped to take action.

 

Relaxation techniques

Even though anxiety attacks can be bought under an individual’s control they cannot be predicted considering the uncertain occurrence and nature of déjà vu. In such situations, it is necessary that an individual actively carries out relaxation techniques.

These might include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing which helps to reduce the intensity of anxiety within a short period after experiencing déjà vu.

Socialization

A key to reducing the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks post a feeling of déjà vu and its aftermath could be spending time with close family and friends.

The kind of emotional and practical support provided by these social and personal groups help the person feel connected and aid in distracting one’s mind from negative and recurring thoughts that lead to anxiety after an experience of déjà vu.

Apart from friends and families, individuals can also consider speaking to groups of people that are experiencing similar episodes of déjà vu.

Set realistic goals

When an individual is feeling overwhelmed setting goals and targets keeping in mind priorities can help resolve overwhelming feelings of fear or panic caused by the experience of déjà vu.

Setting goals provides structure and routine to an individual’s life reducing space for uncertainty and time to dwell over negative thoughts which can be a major trigger for anxiety attacks in many cases.

Take up new challenges

Apart from doing activities that an individual is usually fond of and has expertise in, trying new and challenging activities that put an individual outside their comfort zone in a healthy manner may help reduce the stress and fear caused by déjà vu temporarily.

Signing up for new activities also provides a path to meeting people with unreal experiences and stories.

Lifestyle changes

An individual’s lifestyle plays a major role in their experience of anxiety attacks regardless of the occurrence of déjà vu. An unhealthy and busy lifestyle usually leads to unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep which all contribute to increased stress and an exhauseted mind.

A combination of a well-set diet, exercise, and sleep can help to regulate an individual’s mood and equip them with a favorable coping mechanism.

these coping mechanisms in turn help to get control over once anxiety caused by déjà vu in a more adaptable manner.

Making journal entries

Last but not least having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.

Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.

In the case of journal entries, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their unreal experience of déjà vu.

What are the therapy options for anxiety attacks caused by déjà vu?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

This helps to work on the negative thoughts caused by the experience of déjà vu and replace them with more positive and realistic thoughts.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular stimulus that they usually fear or are anxious about in a graded order.

As and when the individual gets comfortable with the situation or stimulus introduced or exposed to them with each session individuals get more comfortable with a real-life situation that might have otherwise been a source for triggering anxiety.

Exposure therapy might help overcome a fear that was caused and maintained by the experiences of déjà vu.

 

Group therapy

It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same fears they might not feel left alone or isolated. Group therapy usually involves a group of individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.

Medication

Anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health care professional.

Though medication alone cannot help in reducing persistent anxiety it can help in restoring a sense of control and bring temporary relief post an experience of déjà vu.

Conclusion      

Even though frequently criticized many people experience the feeling of having been somewhere or experiencing a situation before when they haven’t really.

Deja vu can also result from chronic illnesses like epilepsy or increased stress in an individual’s life followed by deprivation of necessities such as sleep.

However, individuals should consult a  health care professional as deja vu can be a sign of something much more serious which if not given immediate attention might lead to irreversible damages.

Frequently asked questions

 

Can anxiety trigger deja vu?

Studies show that there might be a significant link between high levels of stress and anxiety with the frequency and intensity of feelings of deja vu.

Is deja vu a kind of seizure?

Deja vu is looked at as a precursor of a temporal lope seizure of the brain. it is commonly linked with epilepsy. however, its occurrence in some cases is undefined.

 

Is deja vu a warning sign?

Deja vu occurs for a very short period it does not cause or indicate a warning for the individuals. many researchers believe that déjà vu is a memory-based experience that is a result of the brain mechanism.

Why do I get déjà vu?

Deja Vu’s can be experienced by any individual at any given point in time. Researchers indicate that a lack of attention towards the first sight of something might be responsible for the experience.

Whereas other studies indicate that it is a memory-based experience that is a result of some unknown brain mechanisms.

Is deja vu good or bad?

Deja vu in itself does not indicate a good or a bad signal. It does not cause any physical changes to an individual’s environment or cannot be taken as a mark of guarantee for an occurrence.

Different people perceive déjà vu  differently some take it positively and look at it as a key of hope while some are very skeptical and fearful about the experience

Citations

https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2019/july/deja-vu

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