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195469 tn?1388326488

Brain Overload...Lord I was scared...

Noises, crowded places, loud voices, etc....seem to have made their way into my list of bothersome MS "weird-a-tees" of late.  Too much sensory information at one time is driving me further up, the "insane" wall.

A couple of weeks ago, it was a crowded store with lots of noise, last night it was a tv that was way too loud..  My other half turned on a program with the sound too high as usual.  There were quiet moments to the program then all of a sudden very loud ca-booms.  I could actually feel the "sensory over-load" starting.  I became so overloaded that I screamed, put my hands over my ears and the item I had in my hand, went flying across the room.  I then broke down into uncontrollable weeping.  I found myself going into the quiet bedroom and locked the door.  I had to have silence.

I swear this is not a psychiatric event, it was 'sensory overload.'.  If was as if every sound in the world, hit my brain at one time and I could not process all the different sounds.  It was like Chinese torture, used in prison camps or something.

I wonder if anyone can tell me whether they have experienced this to such a degree?  It seems to be happening more and more often to me.  All I want to do is go into a quiet room with no sensory stimulation.  I can't seem to process all the sounds bombarding my brain at one time.

All I know from the Neuro is that a few lesions in the center of my brain have enlarged.  A couple near the rear ventricules of the brain.  This also seems to be the area of the brain that controls emotion.  

Quix, maybe you can help describe this better.  I know that some newborns are born so prematurely, that they also have a very immature nervous system...therefore you will see a sign posted on their isolets that say, " No excessive stimulation."  It reminds me of something similar to this.

I want to get a better understanding of what is happening in the brain, if anyone knows.  I will also do some research of my own.  I do know that many people with MS talk about such events and say they become very confused.  Since this has now happened twice in one month, it is a concern for me.  Something I will talk to my Neuro about at my appointment in three weeks.

Thanks for any advice,
6 Responses
382218 tn?1341185087
Sounds like a scary episode.  I have not experienced anything to that extreme, but I do find lately that background noise at normal volume is very distracting when I am having a conversation with someone.  I also find I'm asking my husband to turn the TV down more often.  I don't know whether I find certain noises irritating because of some neurologic/perceptual change, or if it's more of an emotional thing.  I find I'm more easily irritated by lots of things these days, I think for me it's out of general frustration with my health and functioning.

I get the wanting to go into a quiet room with no stimulation.  I wonder if doing this on a regular basis (like the meditation exercise that Kathy talked about) might help to fend off future extreme responses like the one you had.  Training the mind to be calm and steady through regular practice.  I am intrigued by this method as a way to manage pain.  I'm looking into it.
378497 tn?1232147185
Hi, Heather--

I can only speak to this from the perspective of autism. We receive millions of inputs every second of every day. From infancy--or earlier--we begin learning how to ignore some of those inputs and prune away the "noise" as we integrate all of the information into something that makes sense in our brains. Imagine a brain without the ability to prune well, and you've got a brain that is overloaded with information that it cannot integrate into something that makes sense. One outcome of this is intense anxiety because EVERYTHING is noticed. Another outcome can be fear/escape response, which sounds like what you had last night. The outward response to that overload can be anything from the kind of withdrawal people think of when they think of classic "autism" to what we call "meltdowns," lashing out, seeking some other input to drown out the ones that are overwhelming. The endpoint for either response is to block the overload in some way.

I've always been this way. I cannot go to a mall and shop without reaching overload within an hour, at which point I simply have to leave. I've learned better to know that this is coming in a given situation, and I "control" myself as much as I can until I get away to someplace alone and quiet. I notice everything and receive, I think, far more inputs than most.

You mentioned in a previous post that you thought you might be nearing menopause? One thing that mediates our auditory sensitivity is hormones. There are autistic children who can hear in frequencies that no one else can, and to them, a high voice is like an ice pick in the ear. It may be that you're experiencing some hormonally influenced hearing sensitivity right now that culminates in the kind of overload you describe.

My only "advice" is that you learn to recognize when an overload *starts* rather than when you're about to "blow" and remove yourself from the inputs as soon as you can.

428506 tn?1296560999

I've heard this termed as hypervigilance, where the senses are overly acute.  Some people I know who have migraines go through this.  I've also had problems with this, in particular with my hearing and also with my vision.

For me it can feel like I have "super hero" hearing.  Things that should be quiet and that are happening far away feel like they are happening inside my head, with a loudspeaker!  For some reason, plactic bags crinkling at the far side of a huge auditorium can seem so loud and offensive such as to make my whole body jerk.

Sometimes if this acts up when I'm out shopping or at some big event I will need to take "sensory breaks," I'll have to find a spot with less people/sounds, sometimes even cover my ears/eyes, and regroup.  I guess that is along the lines of the "quiet room" that DV speaks of.  I've had to leave the movies, and rather than waste the $10 I now prefer to rent and watch at home where I can control the environment.
Bio is right on about picking up on the early stages and working to adjust while you can.  It's hard to judge how long a fuse you have, but I agree that it is much easier to recover from these incidents when they are stopped early.

I can't offer any advice on the physiological side of this.  Hopefully someone else can help answer those questions.

195469 tn?1388326488
Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID, also called sensory processing disorder) is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with processing information from the five classic senses (vision, auditory, touch, olfaction, and taste), the sense of movement (vestibular system), and/or the positional sense (proprioception).

For those with SID, sensory information is sensed normally, but perceived abnormally. This is not the same as blindness or deafness, because, unlike those disorders, sensory information is received by people with SID. The difficulty is that information is processed by the brain in an unusual way that may cause distress or confusion.

SID is not necessarily related to autism or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). SID is its own diagnosis, but it can also be linked to other neurological conditions, including ASDs, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, Developmental Dyspraxia, Tourette syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and speech delays, among many others.

Diagnosis is increasing by developmental pediatricians, pediatric neurologists, and child psychologists. While it has not yet been included in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as a discrete diagnosis, Regulatory-Sensory Processing Disorder is an accepted diagnosis in Stanley Greenspan’s Diagnostic Manual for Infancy and Early Childhood and the Zero to Three’s Diagnostic Classification.

There is no known cure; however, there are many treatments available.

The meaning of Sensory Integration Disorder falls under the DSM-IV criteria for Asperger syndrome. [1].

Sensory integration is the ability to take in information through the senses of touch, movement, smell, taste, vision, and hearing, and to combine the resulting perceptions with prior information, memories, and knowledge already stored in the brain, in order to derive coherent meaning from processing the stimuli.

The mid-brain and brain stem regions of the central nervous system are early centers in the processing pathway for sensory integration. These brain regions are involved in processes including coordination, attention, arousal, and autonomic function. After sensory information passes through these centers, it is then routed to brain regions responsible for emotions, memory, and higher level cognitive functions.

195469 tn?1388326488
Since this "sensory overload" happened to me suddenly in the past month - only two times in my entire life...I have a feeling that it is the result of a lesion in the frontal area of my brain.

This overload sensation does not happen in all loud siutations or everyday.  So I feel sure that it is a disturbance having to do with the vestibular system and it's signals, into the brain and out.  SO...I am ruling out anxiety as the cause or hormonal.  I really do believe this has something to do with MS and it's damage to certain areas.  My research came up with MS in articles time after time.

195469 tn?1388326488
I think I misquoted myself...I believe this has to do with the hippocampus area of the brain, which is in the center and on each side of the brain, which is exactly where I have a large lesion load at present.

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