Déjà Vu: Definition, Reasons, Causes, and Tips

Dr. Vidhi Modi

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vidhi Modi


6 min read


Déjà vu is that strange and uncanny feeling of something you have already experienced before. Many people believe that this is some sort of greater spiritual calling. Although, if it occurs too often, you should consult a psychiatrist. This article deals with all the different causes of Déjà Vu and how to deal with them. 

Key Takeaways

  • Déjà vu is extremely common and is experienced by people in all walks of life
  • The experience of Déjà vu does not mean irregularities on one’s brain activity
  • If Déjà vu is frequent, doctor consultation is a must

What is Déjà vu?

Déjà vu is a French word that means already seen. It is tough to state precisely how many people experience it, as most of it goes unnoticed. Still, according to a study in 2021, about two-thirds of the world population have experienced Déjà vu. [1] It is not a very common medical study because it is hard to test. 

You have nothing to worry about if you go through a few episodes. However, you must know when it can be a cause for concern. Déjà vu is relatively common to people in the age group of 15-25 years old. If you travel more or remember your dreams, you will most likely have Déjà vu.

What Causes Déjà vu?

There are several theories about why you may experience this. Here are a few of them:

You Have Experienced Something Similar

This is the most common reason. You may have Déjà vu simply because you have been in an atmosphere like the one you're experiencing. To explain this point, let us take an example. Say you are meeting with a person for the first time, and you suddenly feel that you have met them before. This may happen due to two different causes:

  • The first is when their behavior, attitude, way of talking, or even how they look is very similar to a person you already know and have met before 
  • The second one, with a simpler explanation, is that you already met this person quite a long time ago, and you don't remember it. This is known as split perception because you have met them only for a short period
who gets Déjà Vu

Minor Circuit Malfunctions in Your Brain 

Mental illnesses can also cause Déjà vu. Sometimes, some electric malfunction in your brain is similar to the aftereffects of an epileptic seizure. This mix-up happens if the part of your brain that recalls past memories and tracks present actions is active. Hence, it seems that what's happening in the present is a memory. This should not concern you unless it's happening very frequently.

It may also be caused when your short-term memories take a shortcut to long-term memory storage. In this case, it may seem that you are trying to remember something from a long time ago instead of something that just happened.

Delayed processing is another explanation for Déjà vu. Different paths in the brain work at different paces. Some of these neural pathways are faster than others. Although the time difference is very negligible, if it's measurable, it may lead you to think that there are two different events when, in fact, they are the same. 

Psychic Experience 

Another popular reason for Déjà vu is related to psychic behavior. In other words, you have experienced the present situation in your previous life or your dreams. Many hypnotists explained that Déjà vu happens when you find some place or person unconsciously similar due to some past life experience. There is no proof supporting this claim, but many people find it a therapeutic experience.

How does Déjà vu happen? 

It generally happens when there is a collision between two different types of awareness, especially when you are going through the present situation and an incorrect recollection. However, you will realise that you haven't seen it before.  

What actually happens is that your mind is processing one single sight twice because your vision might have been obstructed the first time. Hence the second view immediately after the first is processed as the only consciously experienced memory. It feels unfamiliar because the first one was partially processed.

Additional Read: Top 7 Best Brain Foods to Improve Memory

Who is most likely to get Déjà vu? 

Most people suffer from this, but it has been seen that there are certain types of people who go through it the most. Listed below are some of the traits: 

  • Well educated 
  • High salary 
  • People who can remember their dreams 
  • Whosoever likes to travel 
  • In the age group of 15-25 years 
  • People who are liberal in politics

If you think you have these characteristics and suffer from frequent Déjà Vu, before consulting a doctor, you can take a Mental Health Test to know more. 

what is Déjà Vu and its treatment

When Should you be Concerned with your Déjà vu?

It is one of the neurological symptoms of many serious mental illnesses like epileptic seizures or focal seizures. When a person goes through an epileptic seizure, everybody can detect what's happening. But focal seizures start in one part of your brain. They are very short, and you will not lose consciousness in the meantime, but you may not be able to respond or react to your surroundings. So people might say that you're zoning out.

Déjà vu commonly precedes focal seizure. Following are the other symptoms:  

  • Hallucinations or disruptions in your senses such as smell, hearing, tasting, etc. 
  • Loss of muscle control or twitching 
  • A sudden emotional rush 
  • Some continuous involuntary movements like grunting or blinking

Sometimes people who have dementia also get episodes of Déjà vu. In that case, people may even make up wrong recollections. If you are having these problems frequently, consult a psychiatrist.

Additional Read: Dementia: Types, Symptoms

How to Help Yourselves in Case of a Déjà vu? 

There are several ways you can control your mind during such an episode. Try to go through the steps given below to control it. 

Try the Below Mentioned Tips to Distract your Mind

  1. Distract your mind: As soon as you feel you're having a Déjà vu try to distract yourself from getting rid of the unwanted thoughts and feelings 
  2. Rub your fingers: One of the most common distractions is to focus clearly on the sensations produced from the rubbing 
  3. Count from 1 to 10: Focus mentally and try to visualise the numbers in your head. If the Déjà vu feeling still disturbs, count higher 
  4. Take deep breaths: If you breathe mindfully, it will help you relax 

Learn about Déjà vu to Feel Less Scared 

  1. You should not be afraid if you think an experience is uncannily familiar; just consider it as an emotional experience
  2. You must know that most people face Déjà Vu every once in a while
  3. If you have Déjà vu, it indicates that you have a good memory
  4. There is nothing harmful about experiencing Déjà vu. Do not panic since anxiety will only make it worse
Additional Read: Anxiety and Ways of Managing it

Although if the episodes are frequent, it is advisable to ask a specialist. To make this process easy, get a doctor consultation with a click on Bajaj Finserv Health. The best thing here is that you can book a teleconsultation from the comfort of your home and get all the advice you need online.

Published on 16 Oct 2022Last updated on 18 Jan 2023
  1. https://deja-experience-research.org/surveys

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Vidhi Modi

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vidhi Modi

, MBBS 1 , MD - Psychiatry 3

Ms.Vidhi Modi Is A Psychiatrist, Adolescent, And Child Psychiatrist In Gota, Ahmedabad, And Has 8 Years Of Experience In This Field.Dr.Vidhi Modi Practices At Vidvish Neuropsychiatry Clinic, New S.G.Road, Gota, Ahmedabad As Well As Hetasvi Hospital, Shahibaug, Ahmedabad.She Completed Mbbs From Nhl Medical College, Ahmedabad In 2014 And M.D.Psychiatry) From B.J.Medical College, Ahmedabad In 2018.She Is A Member Of The Indian Psychiatry Society As Well As The Gujarat Psychiatry Society.Services Provided By The Doctor Are: Consultation, Psychotherapy, Child Counseling, Counseling Regarding The Sexual Problems In Females, Anger Management, Career Counseling, Marital Counseling, Behavior Therapy.


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