Does PTSD Cause Sensory Overload?

Aug 7, 2022PTSD

Invictus Clinic
August 7, 2022

Maybe you avoid concerts by your preferred musician because the music is “too loud.” Perhaps you have a difficult time dealing with large crowds or public events. These senses of sensory overload may actually be a sign of PTSD. Continue reading to find out more about these symptoms and treatment options.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological health condition activated by a traumatic experience — either experiencing it directly or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, headaches, severe stress and anxiety, and unmanageable thoughts about the occasion.

Many people who endure PTSD have difficulty changing and handling it, but with time and effort, they typically get better. However, if signs get worse, seemingly lasting forever and hindering everyday life, there’s a chance you have PTSD.

Risk Factors

Not everybody who suffers through a harrowing experience gets PTSD. In fact, you may not even develop the disorder at all. Many concerns contribute to whether you develop PTSD, and specific risk aspects enhance the possibility of getting PTSD. These consist of surviving the injury, getting hurt, experiencing trauma during childhood, extreme worry, lack of social support, extra tension after the occasion, or a history of mental disorder.

What is Sensory Overload?

Sensory overload consists of the five senses — hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch — absorbing more information than the brain can manage. If the human brain is overloaded by this input, it can freeze or go into fight-or-flight mode as an action to a perceived crisis, resulting in fear or panic.

Like other psychological health conditions, sensory overload might be activated by an entire series of sights, places, or sounds. Anyone can be overwhelmed by something distinct.

What Triggers Sensory Overload?

People who experience PTSD or related conditions know the symptoms can be intensified by different triggers, which may include loud music or sounds, crowded spaces, environmental changes (light, temperature), unexpected or unsolicited physical contact (like hugs), traffic congestion, tactile triggers (itchy or tight clothing), or extreme, pungent odors.

Put simply, sensory overload happens when your brain takes in more information through several of the senses than it can handle.

Does PTSD Cause Sensory Overload?

PTSD, other psychiatric conditions, and sensory overload are inherently connected. If you have a type of mental health condition, you could be susceptible to getting sensory overload in everyday situations. If you don’t know how to recognize the specific input that triggers your sensory overload, there are a range of symptoms you can also look out for:

  • Problems concentrating 
  • Excessive irritation
  • Restlessness and discomfort
  • Sudden tension, worry, stress, or anxiety
  • Increased sensitivity to textures against your skin
  • Desire to obstruct your ears or cover your eyes to block out sensory input

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing PTSD or other conditions which cause sensory overload has numerous challenges but can typically be accomplished through a medical examination or psychiatric examination. The goal of these examinations is to discover a medical cause for the condition or to root out a personal or household record of mental illness. Such exams may include blood tests, imaging tests, personal or household questionnaires, and utilizing industry-standard diagnostic reference products like the Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Your doctor may also recommend several treatment choices, such as psychotherapy or ketamine infusion therapy.

Final Thoughts

PTSD affects millions of people who have experienced a trauma that resulted in sensory overload or other unpleasant adverse effects. If this explains or resonates with your circumstance, contact us today to learn more about treatment choices for symptom management and how to regain control of your life.

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