Too Loud, Bright, Crowded, Confusing? Dealing with Sensory Overload

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by ProHealth, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. ProHealth

    ProHealth Member
    by Bruce Campbell, PhD
    March 21, 2012

    Dr. Bruce Campbell directs the educational CFIDS and Fibromyalgia Self-Help website (, and online self-help group discussion courses focused on practical ways to deal with the daily challenges of chronic illness - such as the following.


    Sensory Overload: Sources and Strategies

    Do you experience confusion, fatigue or pain that you can't explain? One possible cause is sensory overload: Receiving more sensory information than your body can process.

    There are many causes of overload, including:

    • Sensory information coming from several sources at the same time (e.g., TV on when having a conversation),

    • Noisy environments,

    • Fluorescent lighting,

    • Socializing in large groups,

    • Being touched, or the feel of clothes on the skin,

    • Weather changes,

    • Strong aromas

    • And sometimes specific people.

    Sensory overload is a significant part of many people's experience of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia...

    Continue reading:
  2. MsBrandywine

    MsBrandywine Member

    I just logged on and was going to search on this but decided to look thru the topics first..
    I am going to continue reading on this but.. Yes, it is very interesting. I do get this. With everything that was listed here.. except for being touched.. unless they are rough or guess You could call heavy handed.. I remember telling my Ex now husband that he was too rough.. and he always said " All I did was touch you" .. and I would always say " Don't touch so hard" lol Gosh.. but the rest of this really hits home.. The lighting is a big thing for me right now.. Well, It all is.. as I said.. but right now my eyes are bothering me big time and in the stores its like everything is too much to take in? when walking down the isles.. especially if the isles are so narrow.. Gives me the weirdest feeling .. The bigger isles aren't too bad.
    I don't see where anyone replied on this but me but I think it was just posted..
    But again. Thank You so much for sharing this!..
    Be blessed..
    Gentle hugs, Debbi~
  3. FaithHopeCure

    FaithHopeCure New Member

    I just finished reading the whole article and it was great! I have always told my husband to turn down the TV, radio, and stop talking so loud. He really didn't understand how much these things bothered me until I had a panic attack at Disneyland when we were standing near a very large speaker that was playing music. We were in the middle of a crowd and I wanted to leave but he wanted to stay. I tried to tolerate it and then had a complete meltdown. He finally saw the pain in my eyes and face. Going to amusements parks are extremely exhausting to me and it takes days to recover from them. Now we do other types of family outings such as going to the park or beach.

    Socializing in a noisy restruarant drives me insane! I do a lot of smiling and step out for a walk to get away from the noise. I much prefer small gatherings 4-6 people for a BBQ. I like one to one conversations and can't handle people talking over eachother. Oh, and the TV suround sound systems spook me out. The background noise suddenly becomes the only thing I can hear....I feel like a spooked out dog that barks at some odd noise in the the house.

    Another bad experience was when the music was set on the highest volume and when the car started my body completely freaked out! I started kicking and my arms went flying all over the place and was screaming. My husband quickly turned off the radio and said he was sorry. My 10 year old son started to laugh because I must of looked so freakish. I looked back at him and started busting up laughing too because I know I had to of look like a crazy lady. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine...

    Although, when I get completed exhausted from light, sounds, crowds and emotional environments I can get headaches and migraines. My body feels as if it is constantly guarded from all of these items listed above. I love the sometimes specific people item. I read that these people cause second had stress! They unload so much of their emotions that we fibro people feel all their stress. Being around my Italian in laws can be a two day recovery period! Nothing against Italians but this group likes to agrue a lot!
    [This Message was Edited on 04/03/2012]
  4. hermitlady

    hermitlady Member

    I deal w it everyday...noise and bright lights are the worst. I cannot stand it when everyone is home and there are 3 different TVs on all over the house. Thank goodness for earplugs....I also wear sunglasses a lot, even in the stores w flourescent lighting.

    You won't find me in a restaurant, or anywhere there are crowds....makes me feel like screaming, it hurts my entire being when there's a lot of commotion and noise. Not many people understand unless they've experienced it.
  5. rosemarie

    rosemarie Member

    I dont' attend church any more as I can't deal with the sensory overload I get from babies crying, people talking, buzzing of the microphone , the sound of the lights make. It is as if I feel each sound in my muscles, nerves , tendons and bones, eye's , head all over I hurt so badly that I get sick to my stomache and have to leave.

    AFter I have gone to church and left it takes a most of the day to stop all the noise that has gotten into my body. Not that it makes scense but it is how I feel.

    I can handle small groups but only in small dose's, even my grandbabies can send me up the wall in pain when one of them screams that high pitched squeal that revels the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.

    NO one understands this sensorey over load stuff, I get told to just stay there and don't stress over it. but it is some thing that is so over whelming that I can't stand it or deal with the horrialbe pain that comes with it.

    My family does not get it that sounds, scents, noise, lights, I really hate it when I am driving and the police have pulled some one over and they leave on the flashing red and blue lights it gets to me fast and hurts in my eye's and head. I don't like the bright lights from the new florecent car headlights that to me are purple and so bright that I am blinded by them for a few moments and then the pain is over whelming me and it hits all at once.
    Some scents do the same thing make me sick to my stomache, headaches, ect.

    I some times feel like some one screwed up my body's wiring, or punched the nerves over load system it is like it has been over taken and shut down. Like a computer that has been taken over by a virus it runs rampent and nothing stops it once it has overloaded.

    I pictured this over load as an old phone switch board with all the wires having been pulled out and put in the wrong spots and then getting a huge surge of electricity. Have you watched the movie the Green mile. When the gurad is told to roll on one, then roll on two and you see the lights flicker and go so bright that they burst and sparks come out. That is what an over load feels like to me. It is no wonder I don't want to attend church when I get that kind of feeling. Oh how I wish there was a cure and I could go and meet people and not feel like I need to stay in my bubble of soft fleese where no sounds can get in easily.

    Thanks for letting me know about the article, It is a good one to read.