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Jumpiness in the extreme

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Morning :-D

Since my sah, I have been getting jumpier and jumpier. The slightest thing gives me a fright out of all proportion. As a little example, at Christmas, my partner opened a bottle of champers. Although I knew he was doing exactly that, when the cork popped I got such a fright I burst into tears like a little girl!

I was extremely tired after my tests yesterday and went to bed at about 23:00. I got to sleep straight away but woke up about 3 hours later. I got up to use the loo and my partner spoke to me from the living room. I couldn't see him and this disembodied voice gave me such a fright that I fainted! I have of course frightened the life out of poor Andy and we were awake until after 5 am. Typically, my GP is on holiday today.

To be fair, I'd had very little sleep the night before my tests and I had contrast dye for the angiogram. I'm assuming that my rather extreme rection to the only other person who lives in this house is down to exhaustion and the contrast dye. Has anyone else had experience of fainting with fright?

Dawn xx

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Hi Dawn,

I had an exaggerated startle reflex after my SAH, which I believe is related to high anxiety and the body kind of being on a "state of alert". I also believe that this can be linked to post traumatic stress after something life threatening occurring, such as a SAH. I used to jump out of my skin if somebody just walked past the front window on the pavement. It did seem to become quite ridiculous and therefore I mentioned it to my GP who told me what I was experiencing.

As for fainting, then no, I haven't had that, but maybe your blood pressure was a little low after lying flat in bed for a while and then getting up quickly .... plus, you had your scans yesterday, so you were perhaps feeling more tired and anxious than normal.

I can only say that for me, it has got much better, but it took some time. I also feel that my anxiety levels were sky high in the initial couple of years and hence I was put onto a beta blocker (still on it now) If it's causing you a lot of concern, have a chat with your GP.


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Hello Dawn,

We’ve not ‘met’ before. Welcome to BTG. I have been reading your posts however and think that you start excellent topics.

To put my experience in context for you, my SAH was two years ago.

The jumpiness you describe is very common and I still suffer with it.

I am a member of Headway, a charity for adults with brain injuries, and my friends there suffer with the same problem.

My understanding is the reason we react so strongly to outside stimuli is because of our ‘startle reflex.’ We had a ‘startle reflex’ before our SAH. That’s why we remove our hands from hot stoves or blink uncontrollably if we have dust in our eyes. The startle reflex keeps us safe.

However, our brains have suffered a trauma; and it is the brain which controls the startle reflex. An exaggerated startle reflex is a condition in itself, but trauma to the brain can cause it too. To become ‘startled’ (brain injured or not) can invoke an emotional state too. Maybe this explains our ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. Sometimes we need lots of adrenaline, (to feel scared/ nervous) to help us react quickly. In the context of our ancestors running away from a wolf, it is handy; but for us to react emotionally when a door slams, perhaps isn’t as convenient!

An exaggerated startle reflex can also be a symptom of an anxious state. I am certainly more anxious post SAH and seem to become flustered easier.

There are ways to manage this and it is helpful to have immediate family aware of the situation so that they can help. I do not react well to spontaneous events, i.e. unexpected visitors. If I am requested to join in on a gathering or a family visit, I am given enough notice so that I can adjust to the idea first.

I keep a diary of all events regarding any contact I have with people, i.e. medical appointments, social events, voluntary work commitments; and I am able to see on any given week what I have on in the days ahead. If there are too many appointments on consecutive days, I know that this will heighten my anxiety and so I re-arrange or cancel some appointments so that my diary looks clearer.

However, being more ‘jumpy’ is something which I and others have become through a brain injury. As I have outlined, there are ways to reduce it and time management is very effective.

Nevertheless, have a little chat with your GP as fainting is unpleasant and s/he may be able to help you further. I haven’t had an experience of fainting with fright, but as you say, you have had a stressful time what with the tests and lack of sleep this week. However, fainting after using the loo can be a symptom of blood pressure issues (I can’t remember if it’s a sign of it being high/low) so a trip to the surgery to have your blood pressure checked will be helpful.

Take care,


p.s. after writing this, I have just read Karen's post and we have basically said the same thing!

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I have had an exaggerated startler reflex for some time. I am only 5 months post but I had it prior ( once again was it the fibro?). I have never fainted. I now however have a new take on it as I had a delayed startled reflex one day. I was talking to someone for about 10 seconds and then I was startled by him out of nowhere. Poor kid was scared to death. I racked it up to being overly tired that day. I do startle very very easily, have for years and it is worse now as I startle myself by seeing an image. I sometimes wonder if some of it has anythign to do with the vision loss in my eyes. That shadow can "fool me" when I see something in my house and think it is a person when it is a shirt hanging on the back of the door.Maybe it is my depth perception as well? Noise frightens me. When someone pounds on my door or if the dogs jump up and start barking my nerves shatter, as well as if someone slams a door or even if I slam a door. But like I said I have always had it and now it is magnified 10 fold. It is like all your senses are not working together.

Dawn, when do you find out your results. The one thing I love about my neurosurgeon is I leave the hospital and drive a few blocks to his office and he shows me the results on his computer.

Edited by MaryB
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And I thought it was just me .... I am definately more anxious and have lost self confidence since my SAH 4 months ago. Like Lynne I now also ask for advanced notice for social/family get togethers so I can 'prepare myself'. The thought of big crowds and anything happening spontaneously makes me anxious and can put me off from going to events.

I also get angry and frustrated because of this - i used to be the life and soul - now people actually comment on how quiet I am, although for some this might be seen as an improvement :wink:

on a positive note - it is slowly improving - when I think how anxious I was before christmas to how I am now, each week things get easier - maybe not as quickly as I would like, but I can say that every week i find myself doing a little bit more.

I am learning to accept that I have to stop judging myself and comparing what i did/what i was like pre SAH - this is a new me, a new begining and I have set myself new achievable goals.

Just keep saying it, new me, new begining, new goal ..... new me, new begining, new goals .....


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Thanks so much for the replies! I get so much reassurance from hearing other people's experiences and stories. It's so important to me to know that I'm not alone in all this.

Lin-Lin, hello! thanks for the warm welcome :biggrin:

Kaz, hi! I like your mantra, think I might plagerise it if you don't mind!

I'm having a much better day today. I got myself some herbal sleep remedy. My GP suggested I don't do this and simply wait for my sleep patterns to sort themselves out. Well, I tried that for 6 months, but I've been surviving on 4 or 5 hours sleep per night and felt that this was much more detrimental than taking a bit of valerian. I've just had 10 hours sleep and haven't had any scary incidents for a whole 24 hours, what a relief!

Dawn x

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