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Need Help Understanding

Discussion in 'Autism Science Discussions' started by ChibiChick, Sep 27, 2020.

  1. ChibiChick

    ChibiChick New Member

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    I'm relatively new to the autism world and autism in general, so I need some help here.
    What's the difference between meltdowns, sensory overload and panic attacks?
    Because, today, like most days, I experienced what I thought was a panic attack but lately I've been thinking it might be sensory overload (or a combination of the two?)
    Like, I was sitting at my kitchen table, eating dinner with my family. My father was watching football and shouting at the T.V., my siblings where chattering away, and most of the lights where on.
    Then, suddenly, I got this overwhelming feeling of anxiety pop up and start making me anxious. I start to sweat. My body tenses. I start to fidget. I have trouble swallowing my food and everything happening around me is just too loud. Too stimulating. Too much.
    I try to maintain it, try to calm myself down so I can eat without the possibility of choking on my food but every little thing that happens seems to just grate on my nerves.
    Eventually, I have to take my food and go finish in a quiet room with no one around.
    It takes a little while after that for me to get my overall panic to finally subside but I eventually am fully able to relax.
    To me, it feels like I'm having a sensory overload that leads to a panic attack or vice versa?
    I'm honestly just not sure. I've never been diagnosed, and I've never talked to anyone about these symptoms because no one I know has what I have.
    Could someone please explain this to me so I can understand this better?
     
  2. Les

    Les New Member

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    From the sounds of it, you've experienced sensory overload. I too have a sensitivity to frequent, loud sounds sometimes as I've built up a sort of resilience or coping mechanism to deal with it as I've matured. As far as I know sometimes these frequent and loud sounds aren't a bother and then are suddenly a bother, which causes me to experience sensory overload. This USED to be follow by what you've experienced; a sort of meltdown/panic attack, as this is the most innate way to react to overstimulation.

    Basically, the idea of "sensory overload" in neurodiverse (ND) people is literally that, an overload of sensory input. The capacity for this I believe can change, e.g. I sometimes can go into very busy environments and not have much trouble and sometimes I'll go back the next day and I can't handle it well (close up, avoid eye contact, etc). So I think you described it well as sensory overload as a causal condition that then leads to a panic attack/meltdown.

    Leaving the area is the easiest thing to do at first sign of symptoms particularly if you don't have much idea of how to cope with sensory overload. If you do believe you may be on the spectrum closer to being ND, definitely go and see someone for it. I was diagnosed as a child so a pediatrician did it, I'm not sure where you would go if you're older than that.
     
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  3. ChibiChick

    ChibiChick New Member

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    Finally someone replies! Lol.
    I've been trying to figure out if what I've been experiencing is actually what I think it is but, when you have no one else around you with same conditions it can be quite hard. Thanks for helping to confirm my thoughts. And yeah, an actual diagnosis is long overdue. Now, I just need to find place that is willing to diagnose me with something other than just a "panic disorder". :D
     
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  4. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

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    Ask around !a lot of psychiatrists especially, will jump on borderline personality disorder for women ,try psychologists as they can't prescribe drugs
     
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