ELI5 , What is Sensory Overload?

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ELI5 , Is it common?

In: Biology

Too much stuff for your senses to keep track of happening at once – a lot of stimulus can become disorienting.

My niece’s son has and from what I understand it occurs when one or more of the body’s senses experiences over-stimulation from the environment. There are many environmental elements that affect an individual. Examples of these elements are urbanization, crowding, noise, mass media, technology, and the explosive growth of information.

I think it’s actually on the autism spectrum and can be quite challenging to deal with.

I experience auditory overload.

For me, it’s like normal white noise (people chatting, dinnerware tinkling, a distant highway) just becomes amplified. You feel like it’s nearer and louder until you can’t hear yourself think, and you can’t focus.

It gets to the point where you physically feel a headache, or your eardrums hurt. I personally get nauseous too.

Mentally, you feel closed in and breathless and disoriented. It could be so stressful you could cry or lash out.

Some people have triggers – maybe PTSD (Commonly bombs or gunshots or abuse) and some people have autism where overload is more common.

TL;DR Brain put the world on loud sometimes and it sucks.

Anyone can get sensory overload in an extreme environment. For example, some neurotypical people experience it after they have spent time in a “float tank” undergoing sensory deprivation. Alternating sensory deprivation and sensory overload on a prisoner is a method of torture.

Nearly everyone has experienced mild sensory overload at some point in their lives. People who hate crowds, or loud concerts, or hate highly stimulating places like game arcades, are probably experiencing a mild degree of sensory overload, which is unpleasant.

A relatively mild instance of sensory overload can make a person feel anxious, irritable, distracted, or tired and withdrawn.

ADHD, sensory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders can lower a person’s threshold for sensory overload and give them a more severe reaction.

A more serious instance of sensory overload could lead to an emotional meltdown because the person feels overwhelmed and can’t control or filter the intensity of the stimuli.

It is extremely common! sensory overload is your brains way of balancing & figuring out new senses. That’s why when people from the suburbs visit the city they think it’s smelly and loud, it’s becauses their senses haven’t adjusted. However more extreme cases of sensory overload are related to things like autism where the brain doesn’t know how to react to new sensations, which is why you see many autistic rocking and flapping their hands. They are trying to balance out the stimuli surrounding them.