Dream flashbacks...is this a thing?
January 1, 2021 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Occasionally, I have days in which I experience deja vu a LOT. Sometimes as frequently as every 5 minutes or so. Should I be worried?

And I know the real answer is "see a doctor," but let's just say that's not an option for the time being. I'm really just looking to see if others have experienced this frequent, incessant deja vu like I have.

And actually, it's not so much deja vu as these strange flashbacks to dreams that I had last night (or whenever). Or maybe that's what deja vu is, I don't know, but more and more I'm now thinking they are connected somehow: that my brain is popping into Dreamland for a split second while I'm awake.

I remember this first happening maybe a decade ago, and the deja vu/dream flashbacks linger for a day or so. This year it's happened more frequently, like 3 or 4 times, so I assume it's due to 2020 stress (which I certainly have), and I hope it's not some physical problem inside my brain..."stroke" and "aneurism" have come to mind but like I mentioned above, I'm not going to the doctor anytime soon anyway, so...

Any input or experiences you guys have shared would be great.
posted by zardoz to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: What you're describing sounds about halfway between déjà vu and déjà rêvé (which is more the sensation that you have previously dreamed this thing that is happening right now while you are awake). Both ARE neurological events, but I can tell you from personal experience that they can definitely be hormonal in trigger, which covers a lot of ground.

Stress, a run of poor sleep, general poor self-care particularly in the realms of too much alcohol or really unhelpful eating habits. Some people can have a run of either one around a change in ongoing medication (or - and this is the one that I consider a potential red flag - if changes in your requirements mean a medication dose is no longer appropriate in one direction or another), so IF you have a medically managed health condition like blood pressure or diabetes, or if you're on anxiety/antidepressants, at the very least track any other symptoms you might be having carefully. (Especially if your weight has changed a lot over pandemic, it could affect medication.)

Otherwise my personal response to this is to better manage my stress as best I can, and prioritize healthy meals and really good sleep hygiene.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:44 PM on January 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I don't know the answer but one question that comes to mind is, do you have a history of taking hallucinogenics?

I'm sure lots of people will tell you to go to the doctor but I kind of doubt a non-specialist would take this seriously as a symptom, given it only happens 3-4 times a year, in the absence of anything else. Do you have anyone you're close to who can give you honest feedback about if you've had any behavior changes or if they have any concerns about your mental health? All other things being normal (including your blood pressure which you can get checked at the machine at the local pharmacy), my guess is this is just a mysterious thing? If the frequency continues to increase or if you have other physical or mental symptoms, that's when I would seek professional advice, personally.
posted by latkes at 6:46 PM on January 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've had recurring déjà vu (and, more rarely, jamais vu) for years. It occurs more frequently when I'm stressed or tired. I also had a particular antihistamine that seemed to make it more frequent, although that may have been due to effects on sleep etc. rather than a direct effect. I've run it by various medical people and mostly just gotten "huh, yeah, brains are weird."

Eventually I got diagnosed with and treated for a sleep disorder, and it's been less intrusive since then, although still present. I've also noticed an uptick with 2020, for what it's worth. I do pay attention to increases in frequency (and particularly to incidents of jamais vu) because it's a very strong signal that I need to take a break and get some damn rest.

The other thing I'll say is that the more I try to push into the experience of the déjà vu and try to figure out what's going on and when I'm remembering it from, the longer it seems to linger. If I can observe the event occurring and say "ah yes, this here is my déjà vu" and redirect my attention to what I was doing already, the feeling is less likely to linger. I have no idea if that's true for others with recurrent déjà vu, but it's been helpful for me.

All this being said - if you have any other reasons to be concerned about your medical situation, it may be worth at least considering reaching out to a doctor. I get that you may not be willing or able to go to the doctor in person right now, but if you're concerned, would a phone consultation be a possibility? Or a nurse hotline? It could provide some context and reassurance for you.
posted by pie ninja at 6:56 PM on January 1, 2021

Response by poster: Lyn Never- deja reve, that's what I was looking for! Now I have a Google-able term and can research this phenomenon.

And latkes, I have imbibed hallucinogens, namely LSD and mushrooms, but not a great amount, and haven't done them for at least a decade or so. I'm physically healthy (jog 20km a week), not on any medication. Sleep is...ok. Maybe. Hard to say precisely, because often I get a solid 8 hours of sleep and then other nights more like 5 or 6 hours. So yeah, more sleep is always a good thing, that might help a great deal.
posted by zardoz at 7:02 PM on January 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Do you lucid dream, have flying dreams, or have you ever had sleep paralysis?
posted by vrakatar at 7:45 PM on January 1, 2021

This can be a symptom of epilepsy, specifically partial seizures in the temporal lobe. I would see a doctor about it as soon as you are able to.
posted by Amy93 at 8:01 PM on January 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm glad I read this post. I have been having Deja reve on and off for years and didn't know it was a thing. I'm particular, I don't always know if I did something in real life or in a dream. I know I've been stuck in an elevator but don't know if it was real. Kinda messes with your mind a bit.
posted by DixieBaby at 11:49 AM on January 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

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