Caregiving Deja Vu
Is it common for our loved ones to always have déjà vu moments?
Déjà vu is a kind of strange or uncanny feeling of something that you have experienced the same feelings before. A feeling that you have lived through the current situation before, knowing that you never have.
While it is common to have déjà vu moments at some point in our lives, experiencing it every time certainly doesn’t sound normal. It has been estimated that about 60 – 70% of healthy individuals experience this transitory mental state at some or other point in their lives. The most common age of experiencing déjà vu is usually between 15 – 25 years, but individuals of any age can experience this phenomenon. Before we dwell further into the details, let us first understand what déjà vu is, its accompanying symptoms, and how to deal with it.
What is déjà vu?
Déjà vu is a French word meaning ‘already seen’. This experience was named after French scientist and philosopher Emile Boraic, who was the first to research this experience way back in 1876. The feeling of, having already experienced something, which you are experiencing for the first time is termed as déjà vu. Although, déjà vu was first described in 1876, but only in the year 1979, it got its universal definition. The universal definition of déjà vu was proposed by Dr. Vernon Neppe, and it goes as – “any subjectively inappropriate impression of familiarity of the present experience with an undefined past”.
Déjà vu is a quick, brief encounter with a feeling that you have already experienced or lived certain identical situations from the past. The kind of feeling that overwhelms you when you realize to have experienced the same thing in the past.
You, at the same time, also realize that such kind of a thing cannot be true, as you have never been in the same place or haven’t met the same people before. Oftentimes, visual context triggers déjà vu. However, in certain cases, just spoken words are enough to start this phenomenon.
Some facts about déjà vu that one should know
Here are some 10 interesting facts about déjà vu, which every caregiver should know:
- More often than not, déjà vu occurs frequently during periods of stress and fatigue. When your loved one is tired or stressed, they are likely to experience déjà vu.
- Certain research analysts explain, that déjà vu occurs due to electrical stimulation of the cortex and the brain structures that are deeply seated.
- Déjà vu is known to decrease with age. However, some elderlies are also prone to experience déjà vu, because of certain neurological problems they are suffering from.
- If your loved ones travel frequently, they are more prone to experience déjà vu moments.
- In certain cases, déjà vu is a manifestation of a dream the individual once had.
- Younger people are more prone to experience déjà vu as compared to their older counterparts. It is believed that the happenings of déjà vu can be correlated to the dopamine levels in the brain.
- According to parapsychologists, déjà vu has a connection with the individual’s past life.
- Researchers believe that one of the triggers of déjà vu is split perception. It occurs when you just simply glance at an object and do not take its full look.
- It affects both men and women equally.
- Déjà vu is usually experienced more during night hours than daytime.
How does déjà vu happen?
The causes of déjà vu are not known. Mainly because, the episodes are so quick, that many times individuals fail to recognize what they just went through.
In many cases, fatigue and stress are known to trigger déjà vu. In addition, people who travel frequently or those who remember more dreams are more prone to get déjà vu. It is also been said that individuals who study a lot or who pursue education for a longer duration are known to experience déjà vu. In addition, individuals who are given serotonin-based drugs are also known to get more déjà vu.
What does it mean to get déjà vu a lot?
When your loved ones experience déjà vu more often, then it can signal an underlying neurological disorder or temporal seizures. Look out for the following symptoms in your loved ones.
- The déjà vu phenomenon is accompanied by abnormal dream-like memories.
- It is followed by rapid heart rate, feelings of fear, unconsciousness, or other symptoms such as unconscious chewing, or fumbling.
- The seizures that last for more than 5 minutes.
- Your loved one has experienced two consecutive seizure attacks.
- Heavy breathing after a seizure attack
It has also been studied that many epilepsy patients, constantly experience déjà vu before the onset of a seizure attack. The electrical disturbance that happens in the neural system, gives rise to an aura, which in turn induces déjà vu before an attack or epileptic event. The kind of déjà vu that is experienced before an epileptic event, is known to last longer than the kind of fleeting feeling experienced by individuals without epilepsy.
What studies has show for caregiving deja vu
On the other hand, déjà vu in healthy individuals occurs due to a kind of mismatch between the memory-recalling output and the sensory input. This kind of mismatch explains, why, does an experience or feeling appears to be familiar, but not substantial as a fully recalled memory.
In research studies, it has been found that déjà vu is more easily induced in patients with epilepsy by the electrical stimulation of the rhinal cortices of the brain.
It has also been documented that, temporal lobe seizures can also produce feelings of déjà vu. Some of the signs that indicate your loved one may be having a temporal lobe seizure in comparison to a normal déjà vu include:
- Muscle twitches
- Recurrent involuntary movements such as grunting or blinking
- Unexplained feelings such as anger, joy
- Problems in controlling your muscles
- Experiencing hallucinations, that include taste, hearing, smell or even imagining things.
- Feeling as if a seizure is about to happen
If your loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms or is having déjà vu frequently, then it is advisable to see a healthcare provider at the earliest.
What is the experience of caregiving deja vu
Intense feelings of déjà vu can happen when one is experiencing focal seizures. In such cases, the person may experience the following associated symptoms:
Motor feelings characterized by the inability to move a particular part of the muscle.
- Muscle twitching
- Feeling of sudden anger, joy, sadness
- Having repetitive behaviors such as blinking, twitching, or involuntary movement of the mouth
- Experiencing sensory feelings such as that of hearing sounds or feeling the taste of foods which is not real
Doctors further add that focal seizures are pretty difficult to diagnose. Therefore, if your loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms along with intense feelings of déjà vu, then it is always best to consult a doctor at the earliest.
There have been cases when déjà vu is also thought to be a symptom of dementia. They have several recurrent déjà vu moments, as a result of which they begin to create false recollections. Individuals with schizophrenia, also experience déjà vu for longer and intense periods.
Experiencing repeated episodes of déjà vu is certainly not normal, and can indicate an underlying neurological disease. Therefore, it is best to consult a medical practitioner at the earliest to help your loved one live a comfortable life.
Déjà vu in the elderly
Most cases of déjà vu occur in individuals aged 15 – 25 years, and the incidence is known to decrease as one ages. However, certain instances of déjà vu moments have been noticed in the elderly population as well, although the incidence in this group is not high. Older adults experiencing déjà vu are more likely because of an underlying neurological condition. Déjà vu in the elderly is more likely to occur because of epilepsy and seizures. Older adults with dementia, also are known to experience déjà vu symptoms.
According to Tonegawa, déjà vu is a memory problem. He further explained that our brains struggle to differentiate between two particular similar situations. As people age, they can experience déjà vu moments, however, this feeling is more noticeable in the elderly with Alzheimer’s.
If your loved one is experiencing repeated and frequent episodes of déjà vu, then here are some questions you can consider.
- How frequently do they experience déjà vu? Few times each month or more
- Do they have any other accompanying symptoms such as loss of consciousness after a déjà vu moment, fumbling, or muscle twitching?
- Ask your loved one, whether they visualize any kind of abnormal scenes during déjà vu moments.
If the answer to any of the above questions is affirmative, then it is advisable to consult a neurologist at the earliest.
Ways to prevent déjà vu
Having learned about the possible causes of déjà vu, it becomes necessary to understand the different ways by which we can prevent déjà vu or effectively manage a déjà vu episode. So, if your loved one is experiencing déjà vu moments quite frequently, then check the tips below:
This is perhaps one of the most effective ways of managing déjà vu. When your loved one is experiencing a déjà vu moment; it is important that you distract or channel their thoughts in some other direction. Instead of getting overwhelmed, or stressing about a déjà vu episode, you must help your loved one think about something else.
You need to tell your loved one to take deep breaths when they experience déjà vu. It improves the supply of oxygen to the brain helps you relax and also helps the brain remove the feeling of déjà vu.
Focus and only focus:
When your loved one is having a severe moment of experiencing déjà vu, the brain likely loses focus. In such cases, it is necessary that you help your loved one, regain their focus, and it is best done by counting backward from 10 to 1. Backward counting helps in regaining the focus, and you would essentially train your brain to shift its focus away from the déjà vu feeling. Additionally, you can even ask your loved one to rub their hands, which will also shift the brain’s focus to the heat generated in between the palms. Like this, the focus will shift and divert the brain from the déjà vu moment.
Stay away from drugs:
Certain medicated drugs and illegal substances often mess up the human brain, taking it to another imaginary world. Such a kind of practice causes déjà vu feelings when one is not taking drugs. In the long run, the drugs have a severe impact on the brain, which fails to process reality.
Understanding Caregiving déjà vu:
You need to help your loved one understand what is caregiving déjà vu all about. Instead of panicking about the entire episode, you must help them understand that déjà vu is a common feeling that is experienced by millions across the globe. It is a kind of feeling that usually lasts for seconds and one should not panic or fret over it.
While experiencing a déjà vu moment, always help your loved one to calm themselves, and help them relax and divert their attention to something meaningful. Helping them to do this, will not only help you manage their current déjà vu episode but will also help prevent future experiences. Always remember, that worry and stress only make the situation worse and pave the way for frequent déjà vu moments.
The majority of the population will experience déjà vu at some other point in their lives. In many of the cases, the feeling is pretty quick and fleeting and wards off quickly. However, it may also happen, that your loved one gets frequent episodes of déjà vu that are intense and stays for long. In such cases, it is always better to look for other signs and symptoms. If you happen to notice any other accompanying symptoms during or before déjà vu, it is best to get medical advice. Many of the cases, may get alright with a little more sleep or some therapies, while others may need a proper medication, indicating an underlying neurological disease.