What are the Meanings of Intrusion?

Intrusion is a symptom of psychotrauma. In response to a key stimulus, patients relive the traumatic experience. Treatment is a combination of different psychotherapy methods and medication.

What is an intrusion?

The intrusion is just a symptom. The psychologist usually recognizes it in direct connection with the larger framework of various primary illnesses. Intrusions always speak for trauma sequelae. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Intrusion.

Traumatic experiences are the cause of a wide variety of mental illnesses. The traumatic event does not have to refer to a threat to oneself, but can also correspond to an observation situation. The patient’s understanding of the world is deeply shaken by the traumatic event. The self-understanding is shaken. Symptoms such as helplessness often appear.

In the context of various clinical pictures, intrusion regularly occurs after the traumatic event. This means reliving the traumatizing situation. Intrusions can correspond to flashbacks. Nightmares or fleeting images related to the trauma are also grouped together as intrusions. Intrusions are usually experienced with a high level of emotional involvement. The opposite symptom is emotional dullness.

In the context of many illnesses, intrusion and emotional dullness alternate in episodes. Patients often experience intrusion in response to certain key stimuli, the so-called triggers. Many of those affected are unable to hide the images of the intrusion in a controlled manner and are literally overwhelmed by it.


The primary cause of an intrusion is a psychotraumatic event. Psychotraumas are psychological, psychological or mental traumas that have caused an emotional injury. Every traumatic event is accompanied by a strong shock to the psyche. Different clinical pictures can grow on the breeding ground of traumatic experiences.

The most well-known of these is post-traumatic stress disorder, which is primarily known in the context of war events. Post-traumatic stress disorder develops after traumatic events of catastrophic magnitude. The traumatizing threat of the situation does not necessarily have to be a threat to oneself, but can also correspond to the threat to others observed from outside.

Post-traumatic stress disorder usually follows about six months after the traumatic event. Intrusion plays a major role in post-traumatic stress disorder, but the symptom is also relevant to diseases such as acute stress reactions. Each intrusion is triggered by a trigger or key stimulus that reminds the patient of the trauma they have experienced.

The intrusion differs from trauma patient to trauma patient. Furthermore, for the same trauma patient, the symptom may differ from time to time, corresponding to nightmares one time and debilitating daytime flashback images the next. The person concerned experiences the traumatic event of the intrusion against their will in countless details.

In addition to images and perceptions, this re-experiencing of the trauma mostly includes thoughts. For example, children with post-abuse PTSD tend to re-enact the traumatic experience after an intrusion through play. During the intrusion, the patient has no influence on his or her memory and its course.

The intrusion thus eludes voluntary control and can overwhelm the person concerned in such a way that “speechless terror” occurs. Patients in this context are often unable to move or speak. Intrusions cannot be hidden. In most cases, the event of intrusion immediately alternates with emotional numbness. Patients often avoid situations that could harbor potential trigger trips.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

An intrusion is primarily expressed by reliving a traumatizing situation. Affected individuals experience flashbacks or recurring daydreams that are difficult to control. The sufferers are overwhelmed by the stimuli, which can result in sweating, nervousness and panic attacks.

The intrusion is triggered by key stimuli and can last from a few seconds to several minutes. In addition to images, feelings and perceptions, reliving the trauma also triggers negative thoughts. Typically, the characteristic symptoms appear during periods of relaxation and at night. Nightmares can occur during sleep, often dealing with the trauma and thereby disrupting the night ‘s sleep.

Accordingly, an intrusion can cause subsequent symptoms such as fatigue, irritability and malaise. In certain disorders, intrusion occurs in interaction with emotionless behavior. Then there are often further behavioral problems that can be traced back to the frequent changes in mood and the associated psychological stress.

The patients appear mentally shattered and often also suffer from psychosomatic complaints. Involuntary twitching can occur, which leads to further limitations in the everyday life of the person concerned. If the intrusion is treated therapeutically, the symptoms and discomfort can slowly be reduced. In the absence of treatment, the traumatic experience often leads to further mental illnesses.

Diagnosis & course of disease

The intrusion is just a symptom. The psychologist usually recognizes it in direct connection with the larger framework of various primary illnesses. Intrusions always speak for trauma sequelae. The severity of the intrusion depends somewhat on the severity of the traumatic concussion.

Not every trauma patient necessarily has to suffer intrusions. Although the intrusion is a reinforcing symptom in the context of trauma diagnostics, it does not necessarily have to be present for the diagnosis of a psychotrauma. The prognosis for patients with an intrusion depends on the primary disease and the causative trauma situation.


Since the intrusion is usually a psychological complaint, it primarily leads to psychological upsets or depression. It is not uncommon for patients to suffer from severe panic attacks or states of anxiety, which can also lead to sweating. The patient’s quality of life is significantly restricted and reduced by the intrusion. In many cases, social contacts are broken off.

Those affected appear exhausted and tired and no longer actively participate in life. It can also lead to self-injurious behavior. Patients are often aggressive or irritable and suffer from mood swings. Furthermore, the intrusion can lead to involuntary muscle movements or twitching, which further limit the everyday life of the person concerned.

Concentration and coordination are also usually restricted by this disease. Treatment can be with medication or therapy. In many cases, the drugs have other side effects and can lead to severe fatigue. The therapy does not promise a positive course of the disease in all cases.

When should you go to the doctor?

Repeatedly experiencing emotionally distressing events in dreams or mentally relaxed situations is a cause for concern. If this causes insomnia or the fear of falling asleep, you should see a doctor. If there are sudden and uncontrollable moments of memories arising in everyday life after traumatic experiences, it is advisable to consult a doctor or therapist. If the person affected finds the intrusions emotionally stressful and suffers mentally, it is advisable to seek help to process the events. If the person concerned withdraws from the social environment, if he avoids talking about what he has experienced or if his personality changes, a doctor’s visit is advisable.

Developments should also be discussed with a doctor if the intrusions begin months or years after the original event. If the everyday professional and private requirements can no longer be met as usual due to the mental state of the person concerned, a visit to the doctor is recommended. If there are other mental disorders, such as depressive experiences, melancholic behavior patterns or a strong euphoric appearance, a doctor is needed. In the event of severe weight changes, panicky behaviour, inner restlessness, concentration disorders and loss of zest for life, the person concerned is well advised to contact a doctor or therapist.

Treatment & Therapy

Drug therapies are available to suppress and relieve symptomatic intrusion. Tranquilizers, antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and neuroleptics are particularly suitable for treatment. With this symptomatic treatment, however, the patient is not cured.

In order to achieve a cure, a causal treatment must be carried out. For trauma patients, the causal treatment corresponds to psychotherapy, which is applied in different ways. In addition to psychoanalytic methods, imaginative methods are widespread in this context, which start with inner images and dream-like processing methods on a deeper level of the psyche.

Behavior therapy approaches, on the other hand, track exposure to traumatic stimuli and ideally achieve cognitive restructuring that weakens stressful memories and makes them controllable. In narrative procedures, the patient follows his human urge to put together the individual intrusive elements of the trauma into a coherent story and to integrate it into his personal life story in a meaningful way.

In eye movement desensitization, intensive stimulation of both hemispheres of the brain through eye movement, sounds or touch is intended to process incompletely integrated memories. Gestalt therapy addresses the body, mind and soul at the same time. In addition, body therapy procedures such as TRE exercises are used. Creative therapy methods are also suitable in individual cases for coping with trauma, especially for children.

Outlook & Forecast

Intrusion is not a disease in its own right. It is considered to be a symptom that occurs in the event of a strongly formative event. The inner repetition of what has been experienced can be present in both healthy and sick people. Therefore, it does not always have a disease value. This depends on the experiences and accumulated experiences of the person concerned. It is usually diagnosed in people who have experienced trauma and seek medical advice.

In the event of a severe trauma, the person affected should seek therapy to alleviate existing symptoms. What has been experienced must be processed or worked through in order to achieve an improvement in the quality of life. The more successful the therapy is, the fewer disorders and irregularities, such as intrusion, occur.

If the person concerned refuses to seek therapeutic help, in addition to a reduced quality of life, an increase in mental and emotional stress is to be expected. The prognosis worsens because in many cases the self-help regulation of the organism is not sufficient to process what has been experienced. In addition, the healing path is lengthened. Depending on a person’s personality, experiencing mild trauma can improve over time without the help of a doctor or therapist. However, those affected rarely report freedom from symptoms.


The symptom of intrusion can only be avoided insofar as the causal psychotrauma can be avoided. Traumatic events can hardly be prevented. It is estimated that 90 percent of all people have experienced at least one trauma in their lifetime. Although intrusions can be prevented by strictly avoiding key stimuli, this approach is counterproductive for trauma management.


In the post-treatment phase, it is important for patients who suffer from an intrusion to avoid the triggering stimuli. The mental and emotional stress in everyday life is enormous. Therefore, patients need ongoing medical and psychological care. Music and art therapy, creative therapy approaches, light and aromatherapy, as well as memory and behavioral therapy are key strategies in aftercare.

A life with intrusion can certainly be made possible over time by helping people to help themselves. Positive changes in the patient’s life can contribute to this. However, completely discarding a traumatic experience remains relatively impossible for the patient. However, if the medical and psychological follow-up treatment does not take effect, the patient’s quality of life remains severely restricted.

In order to achieve inner peace in the patient, drug treatment is necessary. In this way, symptoms of the intrusion can be controlled in the long term. Restlessness and sleep disorders are treated. Homeopathic remedies consisting of lavender, valerian, passion flower or St. John’s wort are helpful.

These can then be taken without hesitation by the patient in the form of capsules or tea. However, if the mode of action of homeopathic remedies is not sufficient, prescription drugs for calming and sleeping must be resorted to.

You can do that yourself

In addition to drug therapy, an intrusion is managed using various behavioral therapy methods. Guided by a therapist, many of these strategies can be self-applied to avoid intrusion.

So-called eye movement desensitization, in which those affected use sounds, touch and eye movements to process memories, has proven effective. From there it is important to avoid key stimuli or to learn how to deal with them. Here, too, a conductive therapy is indicated, which is continued by those affected in everyday life. The aim is to overcome the post-traumatic stress disorder in the long term and thus restore the mental health of those affected.

The causal treatment can be supported by a symptomatic therapy of the individual symptoms. Inner restlessness and nervousness can be treated with the help of natural sedatives from nature and homeopathy. For example, the medicinal plants valerian and passion flower, which can be taken as tea or in the form of capsules or dragees, have proven themselves . Homeopathy provides the preparations Argentum nitricum, Arnica, Chamomilla and Aconitum napellus. However, if the symptoms are severe, the doctor should prescribe a medicinal drug.