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Sound Sensitivity Causing Panic Attacks

Discussion in 'Neurological/Neuro-sensory' started by Carrigon, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    That's exactly it, it just shorts you out. My neighbor started blasting the stereo this morning, and I went into complete freakout panic mode. I was shaking, I was not able to call the police. And the management here doesn't understand why I can't call the cops. It just freezes me up. I'm literally frozen and unable to think or do the things that need doing. I just panic, and I have to sit there trying to tell myself to calm down. It's horrible. I'm a totally different person when things are quiet. I can get stuff done and function. But if someone blasts a stereo on me, forget it. Same if someone is yelling. I can't take the noise.
     
  2. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    Alright everyone, I did some digging and found a new vocabulary word for us: Hyperacusis. The symptoms appear to match what we are describing here. It is most often caused by exposure to unusually loud noise but can also be caused by damage to the neurological system, which includes neurological disease. I seem to remember something about holes in our brain. Lyme disease is mentioned on wikipedia as one cause. My research thus far is cursory. Chronic ear infections are also mentioned, wich fits my history perfectly. EDIT: just found a webpage that mentions hyperacusis being caused by M.E.)

    So far from what I'm reading it says it is relating to sounds that normal people don't find unpleasant that there can be ear pain, general intolerance to the sounds, panic attacks, crying spells, startle reflex to everyday sounds, etc. As an example, my phone just rang and it startled me. I'm obviously not afraid of my phone, the sound is set to as low an as inoculous as possible, and yet still I get that involundary shot of adrenaline. Thankfully it wasn't too severe, but that's jsut the kind of minor thing that hyperacusis includes. It isn't a syndrome, I don't think, more like the technical name for the symptom we're describing.

    Except I have yet to read about hyperacusis causing people to "freeze" during unrelenting sound. I don't know if that's because my research as been minimal, or because that's only in very severe cases, or because it may be CFS-specific.
     
  3. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    It is Hyperacusis. There have been people with Lyme who have actually committed suicide from the sound sensitivity. It can be that bad. I've been getting it since I was about fifteen or sixteen. I don't know if it's from the Lyme or from the aspartame poisoning, but that's when it hit me. But I have been Lyme since I was eight years old.

    But I also, alternately get audio processing disorder where people will sound like they are speaking in a foreign language. I mostly seem to have trouble if someone asks me a question and I'm not expecting it. It takes a few minutes for my brain to realize what was asked. And sometimes I get it watching a movie or tv. I'll have to rewatch the show.

    But the actual sound sensitivity, that just kills me. If a motorcycle drives by my street, I have to put my hands over my ears.
     
  4. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    I also suffer from (undiagnosed) APD. One of these days I figure it'll become a high enough priority for me to get that squared away, but at the moment it doesn't even make the list. Thankfully it hasn't been so bad lately, but I've had a few frights where I would stop being able to understand people completely. I've described it exactly the same way: like they're speaking another language. And even when it's only half the sentance is not understood, how many times do you ask them to repeat themselves before you're socially obligated to pretend you've understood? :p

    But I agree with you; the hyperacusis is far worse due to the suffering it causes, and the inability to stop it, and how much it disables.
     
  5. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    People think I have a hearing disability because I keep asking them "what???" and "can you repeat that?", but it's really that I heard them, it just sounded like a foreign language. It takes my brain a minute or so to process it, then I understand what was said. It takes me a hundred times the concentration of a normal person to listen to someone. I have to sit there and like strain myself to really try to listen and understand what they are saying. And if that doesn't work, I just smile and nod alot. And most of the time they don't realize I haven't got a clue what they are saying and talking about :D
     
  6. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    I'm reviving this thread because time and time again this symptom of APD/hyperacusis/whatever it is really interferes with my independence and my dignity, and can be rather traumatizing. A few months ago I was in a meeting with a group of people, which worked out okay until afterwards when they all decided to start mingling and conversing. My brain got scrambled and I froze with my hands over my ears....I couldn't communicate the need for them to stop, and no one recognized what was happening to me, I was just screaming internally but the noise blocked my ability to even have the thought of speaking up or moving away. I don't know how long I was like that until there was enough of a break in the noise for me to barely ask someone else to get my caretaker.

    I'm so used to having my caretaker there that it actually surprised me just how terrifying it was to be paralyzed by noise with no one able in that moment to help me.

    That was bad enough, but finding myself in the back of an ambulance as they asked me questions was even worse. The siren wasn't on or anything, but they were doing things that made noise and asking me questions at the same time, and the background noise was making it nearly impossible for me to think at all. I was barely able to say, "the noise, the noise....disoriented...by...noise..." and they were all, "you just need to calm down, there isn't any loud noise..." and they're expecting me to be able to answer questions on an unrelated matter while this is going on, and here I'm getting frustrated and very concerned that there won't be a long enough break in the noise for me to be coherent at all... (there was, thankfully).

    It's a very helpless position to be in. Having this symptom is like everyone around you posessing a remote control that can interfere with your ability to think or even turn it off completely, except no one realizes they have this remote control so they just keep it in their pocket or their shoe where the buttons get accidentally pressed quite often. When one of the buttons are inadvertantly pressed, then not only do you lose your ability to think but you also lose the ability to communicate the problem. It's akin to someone not realizing they're stepping on your foot and you have no way to tell them they're doing so--only it isn't your foot, it's your brain.

    Not too long ago someone next door turned on a generator, and the noise was too much for me. My caretaker couldn't come immediately, and I got worse and worse....I wandered outside looking for a way to escape the noise, was crying, disoriented, confused, just trying so hard to keep cogent enough to seek out a safe place but mostly just stumbling around in circles, after a while I was nearly hysterical from the cognitive pain and confusion until the noise stopped and I was able to gather my wits about me again.

    It's humiliating to have such a loss of dignity over noises that should be tolerable, but instead are completely disabling. It's frustrating to hear it perceived as mere anxiety. And finding yourself "trapped" by noise, unable to communicate with those around you when it is essential to do so is.....a very bad feeling. These three times that for some reason or another my caretaker was not immediately there to "rescue" me were traumatic, and for those times it takes me longer to recover emotionally than it does physically.

    Just another disabling symptom competing for the top spot of what to focus on next...
     
  7. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    For me, it's just as bad or worse than if someone shot me with a gun. When my neighbor blasted the stereo on Saturday, it caused such a scary reaction in me. I was literally shaking. My muscles were shaking as if I was in some kind of drug withdrawal. I could barely speak, my heart was going crazy, I couldn't breathe right. It just completely incapacitates me and I'm unable to move, speak or do anything. And when I try to fight through it to get help, I have trouble speaking the words. No one understands. They're always like, what's the big deal, call the cops on the neighbor. But they don't understand that I am not capable of making the call at that point. And when I do call, I have trouble explaining what's wrong. I can't breathe or get the words out. It's really bad.
     
  8. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

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    Carrigon I am so sorry to hear you are having this awful problem with your neighbour. I know you have such a hard time already and have had obnoxious neighbours before, too.

    I have this sound problem, and light sensitivity too. I have been feeling perpetually jumpy lately so when a noise startles me the effect is all the more intense. Since I constantly fluctuate between being pretty badly deaf and being so sensitive that hearing my husband peeling vegetables nearly makes me cry, I just cannot handle it. The weirdest thing is when I have the TV on full volume and literally cannot hear it because the voices are being completely drowned out by the sound of hubby rustling a piece of paper in the next room.

    I recently found a very surprising solution to the sound thing. I go round practically all day with my MP3 player plugged in my ears playing calming music. I bought an expensive pair of ear thingies (cannot remember the right word) that block out all external sounds while playing what I choose into my ears. This means I am basically stone deaf to the outside world until I choose to remove one plug and listen. The way this helps me achieve and maintain a feeling of calm is wonderful.

    BTW thanks to Carrigon for starting this thread. My little boy, who is mildly on the autism spectrum because if his Lyme /CFS, is having extreme problems with sounds, lights etc and so everyone's descriptions of how this makes them feel is very useful. I just wish I could find a better solution for him as my PM3 thing would not be suitable for a little child. He also seems to get set off in the same way by smells, especially perfumes and cleaning products, and by strip lighting or energy saving light bulbs.
     
  9. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    I'm so sorry to hear of the awful time you are going through Carrigon. My symptoms echoed all here and tactics used to aid too given by Members. Am sure it has to do with neurological damage, and for me did ease as general health improved. Blocking of sounds and complete quiet (if you can) - over ear headphones, choice of silent places eg bedroom, relaxing music - all to cover painful noise and the "raging" head, agitation the pain sets up, until it calms. Wish I could suggest more and very much hope your restless thoughtless noisey neighbour frankly moves on. Any clause in the contract about sounds not being heard between certain hours ?
     
  10. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    Dainty sorry to hear too about the "trapped by noise" I knew so well - screaming (well not literally) to get out and away and the time it takes to recover from this crash. Like you mind scrambled (still selective about where and with whom out and certainly not if tired).
     
  11. SaveMe

    SaveMe *****

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    the birds outside keep twirping, damn it i want to kill them
     
  12. PNR2008

    PNR2008 Senior Member

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    There is a website for misophonia and support. It is more specific sounds that irritate the limbic systems (peeling veggie's, loud chewing etc.) so it is made much worse by CFS/Lyme anything nuerological. Many suffers wear noise cancelling headphones or play white or pink noise. When not using headphones they always wear earplugs. Also having an anti-anxiety med readily available should help with that caught in the headlights feeling so you can think clearer and get relief. Hope this helps.
     
  13. SaveMe

    SaveMe *****

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    misophonia occurs in healthy individuals, and does not accurately describe the ME/CFS "sensitivity" to noise.

    Misophonia, literally hatred of sound
    People who have misophonia are most commonly annoyed, or even enraged, by the sound of other people eating, breathing, coughing, or other ordinary sounds.
    Often, people who have misophonia are also annoyed by other people's repetitive movements, such as leg-tapping, nail-biting and typing.

    Misophonia is more like hating that screeching made by nails on a chalkboard. totally different than what I experience.

    here, read this for a more accurate description: http://chronicfatigue.about.com/b/2008/03/13/fibromyalgia-sensitivity-to-more-than-pain.htm
    AND

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5izZXxC9y4

    Thus, the noise sensitivity that ME/CFS/FM patients experience is not "misophonia" but rather a result from "central sensitization". Remember that word, because its here for the long haul. :)
     
  14. PNR2008

    PNR2008 Senior Member

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    SaveMe, I wasn't talking about your tweety sounds. I was talking to Athene and her veggie cutting and earphones. Even though "normal" people get misophonia. People with misophonia can get CFS/Lyme.
     
  15. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    For me, it's mostly loud sound I can't take. A booming bass, a loud lawn mower. OMG, Monday, they were mowing the lawn here with large tractors and the sound, I was dying so badly that I went out. I got in my car and left. I couldn't take it.

    The fire alarm here truly nearly kills me. It's like someone shooting me over and over again.

    I can't take my neighbor's stereo or tv coming through my wall, even when he's not blasting it, it's just enough to be annoying.

    Maybe the birds chirping are bugging me lately. They start chirping here before three am, which is weird to me.

    I'm just plain massively noise sensitive. I have to have this drone sound on in my room to block out all the other noise. It works much better than white noise because it's low level. But I worry about wearing out the cd or my player because I can rarely turn it off. My neighbor rarely goes out for long.

    Sometimes I do resort to earplugs when I have to sleep and there's too much door slamming and stuff going on here. But I can't always do that when I have to be somewhere and must have my alarm set for it.

    I vaguely remember many years ago, before I got sick, not having this problem. But I think it must have been before I was fifteen. Somewhere after about age fifteen it started. Prior to that, I used to love carnivals and amusement parks and rides and didn't mind the noise of fireworks. So I'd say about that age, that was the end. Because we lived in my grandmother's house and I used to complain all the time that her tv was too loud. It was driving me crazy at the time.
     
  16. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    I just wanted to add, my heart goes out to any autistic child in today's world. I think I've been autistic on the scale since I was four years old. That's about as far back as I can remember with it. I was one of those quiet kids. Things were always different for me. That's where I believe my coding talent comes from. My ability to read and write numeric languages. Code just speaks to me. And my focus. That drive, that's what it takes to be a real coder.

    I never fit in with the other kids. I'd usually be off by myself.

    This world is too noisy and full of too many modern things that people like us and autistic kids were just not wired to be around. If you put us in front of a computer, in a quiet room, we're fine. Or if you put us in some isolated, dead quiet town in the middle of a European grape wine field, we'd probably do fine. But in the modern, busy world, we weren't meant to be in it.
     
  17. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

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    Hi folks,
    I looked at a misophonia website as suggested by PNR. I also read the link from SaveMe.

    I do agree they seem to be two different things and I am sure I have both. I remember as a child finding the sounds of my poor father eating his food so intolerably infuriating that I would constantly explode and scream at him. My younger sister had the same reaction. Any slobbering sound anyone makes with their mouth still makes me feel like this - an instant explosion of rage so intense I sometimes fear I could lose it and attack someone. Any sounds to do with spit or phlegm have the same effect on me.
    I never knew this was a medical condition, so thanks for that info.

    For me, there are two main differences between this and the Lyme/CFS hearing problem. First, my reaction is not rage, but confusion and feeling weak and ill and desperate to be left alone. I have sometimes just broken down and cried. There's no feeling of anger at all. Second, my relative perception of sounds is actually distorted - the sound I am trying to pay attention to seems too quiet to hear no matter how loud it is, while at the same time I percieve some tiny background noise as so loud it totally drowns out the louder noise. Third, the severity of this problem constantly fluctuates, ranging from so severe I cannot talk to anyone, to so mild I hardly notice it.
    I know for certain that all these problems have nothing do do with my ears.

    I think the first problem is psychological (it has to be) and the second one is neurological.
     
  18. PNR2008

    PNR2008 Senior Member

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    Athena, soundsensitivity@yahoogroups.com I agree the two are different but I am surprised at how many suffers have both. Misophonia is thought to be a limbic disorder but the verdict is still out. One thing it is not is physchological but alas self talk can help but not cure.
     
  19. icalla

    icalla

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    My biggest problem with this is that it severely limits my interaction with my family. My sister has three young ones, and I adore them, and they lift my spirits, but spending time with them, especially when there are also various adults around, is painful, and exhausting. When we get together as a whole family, I have to leave the room every once in a while just to get through the evening.

    Light is also disturbing, but I find it's move than just that visually speaking. I am extremely sensitive to what I think of as visual noise. For example, part of the issue being in a store or a mall is the constant movement and the sheer amount of visual stimulus - the colours and shapes that are all designed to attract attention.

    When it gets down to it, it seems to be, for me, a problem of attention - my brain doesn't seem to be able to tell what is important and not, or to filter out the unimportant as it once did.

    I will fess up now and say I did not go read the articles - although I want to - because my brain is taxed enough at the moment :)

    This whole issue of sensitivity to sensory stiumli (sometimes it's textures, too, or smells - it's not limited to sight and sound for me) is extremely debilitating in social situations, and makes life a whole lot harder. I want to be in social situations, because they keep the depression at bay.
     
  20. Carrigon

    Carrigon Senior Member

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    I get that. Too much sensory input. I can't be around too many people or be in stores too much. It's just too much stuff going on. It's actually caused panic attacks in me when it's been bad. I just try to be in and out of a store as fast as I can. And I leave social situations kind of fast. I think some people must think I'm rude, but they don't know that I'm like dying and must get away from there.
     

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