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Is your "startle reflex” super sensitive?

Discussion in 'Other Symptoms' started by Michiel Tack, Jun 12, 2020.

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Is your "startle reflex” super sensitive?

  1. Yes, clearly so

    51 vote(s)
    75.0%
  2. No, clearly not

    8 vote(s)
    11.8%
  3. unclear

    9 vote(s)
    13.2%
  1. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Saw someone asking this on Twitter and receiving a lot of positive responses from ME/CFS patients. I have this as well. Not really a big problem but something that is noticeable.



    I know there's selection bias at play but I thought it might be worth asking around here on the forum.
     
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  2. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I put unclear because it varies too much, but is still significantly more than normal at times.

    Though it feels more like my mind tripped on itself than a genuine startle reflex, like it just went through a surcharge of sorts.
     
  3. Peter Trewhitt

    Peter Trewhitt Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Pre ME I did not startle easily, but do now.

    However, given I live a very different lifestyle, much much quieter, only going out every few weeks (pre lock down), only infrequently have anyone other than carers in my home, is this related to the ME or the resultant lifestyle?
     
  4. ahimsa

    ahimsa Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    It was not sensitive before I got ME, but my startle response is a lot more sensitive than normal now. However, it does vary a little.

    When I'm feeling worse due to PEM, getting startled happens more easily. Also, the recovery (heart rate going back to normal, being able to think clearly) takes a few minutes longer.

    But if it happens during a period when I feel more rested, getting startled is not as bad.

    There was a thread about this on the old PR forum.
     
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  5. Daisybell

    Daisybell Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes - particularly if I’m not feeling good. And then if I do get a fright, it takes a long time for me to feel ok again.. I am also hypersensitive to noise generally now.
     
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  6. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    When my kids were growing up I had a no latex balloons policy (thank goodness for mylar for birthdays). I was always expecting them to pop and startle me. When people came up to me quietly while I was facing away when they'd speak I'd startle with a scream almost jumping.

    I've also been told by just about every dr I've ever seen in the past that I have the reflexes of a cobra. Some of them didn't quite believe it in fact and would use the hammer thing several times to see the result (I half expected them to call others into the room to show them- hey look at this).
     
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  7. Rosie

    Rosie Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I have this and first noticed it in my early years of ME while I was still working. From what I can gather it feels related to allodynia and intolerance to noise and what is felt is many more times greater than normal.

    When I got to severe ME I couldn't bear to be touched, scratching my leg lightly was very painful. I also used try not to pass anyone too closely because I couldn't take bumping into them.
     
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  8. lunarainbows

    lunarainbows Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yes although had an issue pre ME as well. Now worse.
     
  9. ahimsa

    ahimsa Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Same here.
     
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  10. Milo

    Milo Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I answered yes, as in general that reflex is very sensitive, but i would say that within that yes, it fluctuates over time.
     
  11. Arnie Pye

    Arnie Pye Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I answered Yes, because I've startled easily for as long as I can remember. I think in my case a major contributory factor in later life has been my very poor hearing. I rarely get any advance warning that someone has walked up behind me because I don't hear them.

    If someone drops something big in my vicinity e.g. my husband in the kitchen, or a staff member in a restaurant, I will often jump out of my skin if its loud enough.

    Edit : I realised my phrasing was a bit odd. It isn't my husband getting dropped in the kitchen I was referring to him dropping something big in the kitchen, e.g. a saucepan or a bottle. :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
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  12. Forbin

    Forbin Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think, for me, the answer would be "sometimes," depending on the situation.


    Possibly the most effective "startle" scene in cinema occurs in the original version of "The Exorcist." Father Karras is alone in a university basement listening to tape recordings of the possessed girl, Regan. He thinks he hears something in a dead space on one of the tapes. As he keeps playing this barely audible snippet over and over again, we, as the audience, are also straining, trying to hear what he hears. Thinking we might just be able to make it out, it has our full attention when...

    ...someone bursts through a door behind the priest and says "Hello!"

    This illustrates a couple of features that I think can magnify the startle response - complete fixation on a task and hypersensitivity to sound. The film makes you hypersensitive to sound by getting you to drop all your defenses to loud noises in your effort to make out what's on the tape. It also makes you devote all your attention to the task of figuring out what you're listening to - then something loud comes out of left field.

    Sound sensitivity is something that seems fairly common in ME. Fixation on a task may also be more common because the effects of "brain fog' may require an unusual amount of focus in order to accomplish some objective.

    Just some thoughts...
     
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  13. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I've put unclear because sometimes it is and at others it isn't. I think I was like that pre ME too.

    At times, especially the better times, I barely startle at all. I have had someone jump out at me late at night, outside when leaving a friend's house expecting me to scream. Gobsmacked when I didn't turn a hair and just said "hi". Literally no jumping, no raised pulse. Nothing.

    Then at other times I'll jump and scream with the best of 'em.

    I don't understand the difference, or what's going on. In work or driving, for example, my reactions to an emergency situation were just fine regardless of whether there's an adrenaline rush or not.
     
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  14. Forbin

    Forbin Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    One thing that I know increases my own startle reflex is poor/insufficient sleep. Though it's probably not the only cause, I think this connection is pretty well accepted.
     
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  15. JemPD

    JemPD Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Just to say be careful in front of whom you flag this up.... An exaggerated startle response is a significant part of PTSD.... don't want to give them ammunition.

    I would expect however that a stronger reaction to perceived threat would be had by any animal who was significantly weakened by illness/disability. Any animal 'in the wild' would be more vulnerable to being eaten if injured. therefore i'd expect a survival mechanism to make that reflex stronger in those who are unwell.
     
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  16. Arnie Pye

    Arnie Pye Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Off-topic for the thread... My husband and I got a puppy nearly 20 years ago. One day we were walking her in the local park when she was still very young - probably three months or less. She jumped through a wire fence which was sagging and broken and in a freak accident she got caught up in it and ended up hanging upside down by her "ankles". She started screaming in panic. I rushed over to support her body while I disentangled her legs and feet, and she attacked me. I got a couple of bites. (The dog was completely unharmed by the way, apart from a miniscule cut on one leg).

    I found out later that dog packs in the wild will often attack and kill an injured member because screams could alert a predator to the presence of the pack, so they kill the screaming one as fast as possible to make them shut up. So, my dog screamed, I rushed over to help her and she must have thought I was about to kill her and defended herself as best she could.
     
  17. pteropus

    pteropus Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    don't judge, but when i'm well enough, i play "pokemon go" on my mobile phone.

    if the pokemon runs away from me, there is a millisecond where i recognise this is about to happen,
    and #simultaneously# my body triggers a simple seizure (muscle spasms).

    similar with cutlery - i'm startled #before# the dropped cutlery hits the plate/table/floor/foot/cat.
     
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  18. DokaGirl

    DokaGirl Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I often scream when startled. When I don't know someone is there, and they start speaking, I am so startled I scream. This in turn startles them.

    The phone ringing used to make me startle, and I would feel jangled for quite some time after. I don't watch thriller movies as a rule, not much into them, but also because I really startle at the scary
    bits, and this makes me feel like I've been pulled through a knot hole backwards.
     
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  19. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Definitely. Can be noise (I don't miss a thing), but also visual stuff, like someone moving towards me on screen has given me a completely overblown response.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
  20. Marky

    Marky Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yes :laugh: I thought it was just me.

    A feather might fall to the floor and I have already jumped through the roof
     
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