1. Guest, the 'News in Brief' for the week beginning 7th June 2021 is here.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Welcome! To read the Core Purpose and Values of our forum, click here.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Contribute to feedback on the CDC Evidence Review, for more details click here
    Dismiss Notice

Is your "startle reflex” super sensitive?

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


Is your "startle reflex” super sensitive?

  1. Yes, clearly so

    53 vote(s)
  2. No, clearly not

    8 vote(s)
  3. unclear

    9 vote(s)
  1. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Usually I am totally anti-startle. However if I am in PEM, its the opposite. I react super fast. I just don't have the energy to jump.
    Mij, Squeezy, Invisible Woman and 5 others like this.
  2. Forbin

    Forbin Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    When telephones first began to switch from mechanical to electronic rings, there was one particular kind of electronic ring that sort of startled me, or at least put my teeth on edge. I may not have been the only one, since I never hear that particular ring anymore. My own phone did not have a ring like that, so the effect was not from some personal phone call anxiety.

    My theory is that some phone company genius decided to conduct extensive tests on what new electronic ring got the most attention, and succeeded only too well. The only place I hear that particular ring anymore is in movies made at that time (early to mid 90's I think) and it still creeps me out.
  3. Cytokinda

    Cytokinda Established Member

    Likes Received:
    Mine has never been normal since I got sick, but it is variable and mixed. These days, the most common response is what most people here are reporting - an exaggerated startle response. However, sometimes I'll have none at all (at least not outwardly) in response to a stimuli that should trigger it. I think a few people above mentioned the patellar reflex - the knee jerk thingie with the hammer. In the early years my docs were always surprised that I had no response at all to this.

    Quite frequently, I'll feel a startle response - it travels down my spine and rattles in my mind - but no overt movement accompanies it. If anything I go a bit slack. This brings to mind Polyvagal theory, which if I recall* posits 3 branches to the ANS, the third being a freeze/"play possum" response.
    *(it's been a long time since I last read about it)

    "play possum" in conjunction with hibernation/torpor/dauer is intriguing to think about. I wonder if some of us have conserved pseudo-vestigial genes and pathways for entering these states, but - over millennia of disuse - have lost the genes for exiting them. ...I suppose this isn't an optimistic theory... Perhaps the "switches" are both conserved and a treatment would be to find the correct epigenetic modifier to trigger transcription of the "exit torpor" instructions. Entirely speculative. (and possibly this last paragraph belongs in a different thread? I'm new here :) ...will go poke around with the search function in a mo)

    I upped my NAC intake about 5-fold starting 3 weeks ago. I feel like my startle response has reduced since then, but it's too early to say with any certainty.

    Does anyone else experience what I mentioned above? An internally felt startle response but with no accompanying movement?
  4. NelliePledge

    NelliePledge Moderator Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    UK West Midlands
    What I reckon ‘triggered’ insomnia and startle being heightened (not always but a good portion of the time). Was being regularly woken in the middle of the night by my parent who had dementia waNdering into the bedroom I slept in on fortnightly weekend stays and switching the light on to see who I was. This obviously made me very startled

    nowadays not so much although obviously getting used to living in a different house makes you jump at all the noises you’re not familiar with. This experience with my parent was a couple of years before the time when my health started deteriorating and I began to have regular flu symptoms, laryngitis etc. Over 20 years ago.
  5. Arnie Pye

    Arnie Pye Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    I'm curious what effect you are looking for in taking lots of NAC?

    Welcome to the forum, by the way. :)
    Invisible Woman likes this.
  6. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Now you mention it, yes. Whenever the fire alarm goes off in the building I live in. Though sometimes also accompanied by a slight physical start but not always.

    Not sure but the difference may be as to whether I'm lying on the couch or standing up somewhere. I've never been standing when the alarm has gone off and being startled standing up is mostly in the past as there is only my husband home to startle me and that is always when I'm standing in the kitchen making something to eat.

    These days there is no accompanying adrenaline surge as I believe I experienced long ago with the balloon example.
    Invisible Woman likes this.
  7. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Marky likes this.
  8. Aslaug

    Aslaug Moderator Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    I also have an interbal startling response. It's more pronounced during PEM.
    Invisible Woman likes this.
  9. Colin

    Colin Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Brisbane, Australia
    I quite often get what I call an uncaused, stress reaction, which is a plain jangled-nerves sort of thing. It occurs, apparently spontaneously, once a week or so. However, of late, I have taken closer notice and have been able to pick the odd occasion when it was caused by some minor stress. I'm too far gone for it to do anything to me externally; but I did get, early on, for a year or two, some trembling, occasionally. I have associated it with the CFS/ME and have wondered if it is all to do with having been very nervy as a teen. A highly-primed flight-or-fight system, or nervous exhaustion, has often been suggested as associated with CFS/ME but I've not heard if others with CFS/ME were also nervous sorts before coming down with it.
  10. rel8ted

    rel8ted Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Riding in a vehicle & being passed by another vehicle on the highway & I am on the floor nearly crying.
    andypants likes this.
  11. richard7

    richard7 Established Member

    Likes Received:

    One of the things I noticed in the first year of ME was that I was very sensitive to dogs barking, motorcycles revving and other sudden loud sounds.
  12. Peter Trewhitt

    Peter Trewhitt Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    What not to do!

    Don’t climb on a chair to change the battery in the smoke detector and then press the button to check it is working without bracing yourself for the startle reflex when it goes off. And certainly don’t repeat the action a second time a couple of minutes later.

    At least only fell off the chair once.
    Simbindi, Trish, Mij and 7 others like this.
  13. Mij

    Mij Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    For me it varies from day to day, but when in PEM I'm highly sensitive and jumpy.

    Years ago when I took mg/taurine injections you could have blowened an air horn right beside me and I wouldn't have even flinched. Maybe I was taking too many shots, but boy did it feel good.
    Simbindi, Invisible Woman and Trish like this.
  14. JellyBabyKid

    JellyBabyKid Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Yes, but I also have anxiety and tend toward hypervigilance. The anxiety accompanied a worsening of ME symptoms so a bit chicken and egg...
    Simbindi and Invisible Woman like this.
  15. DokaGirl

    DokaGirl Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    For many months when had EBV, I would have a startle feeling right when I woke up. It happened just upon waking. This returned for a few weeks after my COVID vaccination.
    mango, MEMarge, Trish and 1 other person like this.
  16. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Same, it is only a problem when suffering from PEM and I find it hard to concentrate.

Share This Page