October 2


The Startling Truth About Being Startled!

By Sue Ingebretson

October 2, 2012

adrenal, adrenal dysfunction, anxious, fatigue, fibromyalgia, Healing, hormones, jump, jumpy, moody, scare, startled, thyroid



We joke about someone stomping on our very last nerve, but does it ever feel like EVERY nerve is your last nerve? What about the following – how do you rate?

— Are you jumpy?

— Do you startle easily?

— Are you unable to tune out people, sounds, and noises that drive you crazy?

— Do you overreact to surprises?

If the answers to the above questions are mostly or all yes, you may have troubles that could … a-hem, startle you.

It may be an adrenal issue.

And not just an issue, but a significant adrenal issue! There are, in fact, many surprising symptoms that can indicate that your adrenal system is in trouble. The adrenals are powerhouse glands that govern thyroid function and your male/female hormones so if you think either of those are wacky, it’s time to look  “upstream.” Looking into whether or not you’re affected by adrenal dysfunction can be crucial to your recovery and healing journey.

Look at it this way. Thinking of a clock, the face itself could represent the thyroid and the hands could represent the hormones. But the battery/electricity that makes it all run? That’s the adrenal system. And, that system can spiral out of control leaving you to feel exhausted, moody, in pain, and anxious.

But let’s get real. The only thing more confusing (and known for conflicting reports) than the thyroid function and hormones would be the adrenal system. Should we treat the thyroid once dysfunction is present or treat the adrenals? How do we know if either system is under or over performing? Medical tests are often inconclusive. And then there’s the hormones … ugh. Hormone therapies vary radically. And, are there lasting negative effects?

I deal with adrenal challenges myself. In my quest to learn more, I’ve sought new and enlightening info from an adrenal guru who has screened thousands of patients to review their levels of adrenal insufficiency. I’m so fortunate to partner with him on this all-important topic and at this stage, I can only say (with contained excitement!) that you’ll hear more on our partnership in the very near future.

For now, know that if your kids roll their eyes at you when you jump out of your skin when the UPS driver bangs at your door – you’re not alone. And, your body may be telling you there’s an imbalance that affects your ability to handle change, surprises, and frustrations on an even keel.

Stay tuned for more fascinating info on this complex subject.

Do you think adrenal issues may be a problem for you? Let me know what you think. Would you like to hear more surprising symptoms of adrenal dysfunction?

Or click HERE:   https://rebuildingwellness.com/stop-pain-guide/

  1. I would love to hear more. I have had many adrenal issues. Part of the trouble was caused by daily opioid use — adrenal insufficiency secondary to opioid therapy. My blood sugar and blood pressure were dropping lower and lower until I finally HAD to stop opioids. They were also causing gastroparesis, but that is another subject.

    1. Great topics, Tamara! So many can relate to the effects of medications on our bodies. While the benefits may help, there are always other things to consider such as the impact on our adrenal system, thyroid, hormones, digestion, etc. Some medications (such as steroids and antibiotics) are also big culprits in the development of inflammation. It can be a vicious cycle of trying to determine what’s helping and what’s hurting. I’ll sharpen my pencil and come up with other lists of symptoms that we may or may not realize that are related to the adrenal system. Thanks again!

  2. Most of the time I’m calm as a cucumber …but there are those times when something just surprises me out of the blue. Can’t wait to hear more about your partnership.

    1. Thanks Gerry! Many of us with autoimmune/fibro/chronic illness challenges are very jumpy (but lovely) people 😉

  3. I loved your column them questions I answered yes to all but one. I jump at every little thing, I’m always frustrated. I’ll loved to learn more about it.

  4. Great topic, Sue, thanks for writing about this! I have fibro, have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and adrenal insufficiency. I also have been steroid dependent for a # of years due to asthma and sinus issues. The steroids have compounded the adrenal issues, I’m sure. One aspect that would be helpful to hear more about is the biochemical explanation behind adrenal insufficiency and being “jumpy” (which I definitely am). I would love to be able to explain to my hubby and other loved ones why it is that I startle so easily … maybe they would be less likely to think I am a crazy person if they understood better. And of course, how we can help ourselves to calm down a bit. All this jumpiness takes a toll. Thank you again for all you do.

    1. Terri – I’d love to answer this question and believe I do have a way for you to describe this succinctly to loved ones. It would be a bit too detailed, however in a blog comment, so could you please email me at Sue@RebuildingWellness.com and ask the question there? I’d be happy to reply!

  5. OH MY STARS…think this could be something that’s causing me TONS of issues! I had NO clue about adrenal system but have been telling my dr I think my hormones are out of whack or something. All the test say that I’m fine and my thyroid is under control with the meds. I do have fibro and crohns disease so finally I’ve just told myself it must be all this combined that I feel like I’m going crazy. I’m soooo excited to research this more now and will be interested in hearing what you share…soon!?!?!? LOVE your website and book…thank you sooo much for such an encouraging place to come read up on our health!!!

    1. Rosa, yes — there will be more soon, and thanks! I love sharing information that I’ve personally experienced. As I found healing for myself, I remember discovering lots of things that made no sense at the time, but later fit into place. Working on the adrenal system was a big part of that. I’d had no idea that mine was so frazzled! Look for more info soon!

  6. the picture of the cat startled me as soon as I opened the page lol am I the only one

    1. Sophia – yes, that kitty is a bit startling! Sorry it made you jump 😉 But, I hope you kept reading anyway….

  7. i always startle easily, I jump and my reaction surprises those who my have caused me to startle. I’d love to understand this &I be able to stop. I am62 yrs. and everyone is shocked by my reaction . Interesting information, love to learn more.

    1. Ann – you’re SO not alone! Most of us with adrenal issues, have a very over-emphasized startle reflex. There are many protocols to help heal the adrenal system and we can start to see improvements as we tackle the problem at the root. Feel free to email me specific questions!

  8. Thank you for this info. I have startled easily for years. I know I wasn’t always this way but I can’t remember when it started. For the last 2 years I’ve also been dealing with mysterious neuropathy in my legs and feet. I’ve been tested for everything under the sun and most tests have come back negative. The one thing they did find is some nerve damage in my low back along with some disc damage. However, they think it’s odd that my nerve pain is only below the knees. I’m scheduled for a steroid shot in my spine next week because they said the only way to know if the pain is originating from there is to try the shot. Now, after reading this blog, I’m wondering if it could be related to an adrenal issue. Have you ever heard of it causing this type of pain? The only thing that gives me relief is gabapentin, but I’d like to get off of that med. Don’t like taking something that messes with my brain, but I can’t take the pain. If I miss a dose, or take it late, the pain is so bad that I can’t sleep. I used to be a very active person but this pain has slowed me down quite a bit. I want my life back!

    1. Karen – you’re so very welcome. When I discovered that my own “over-exaggerated” startle reflex was no isolated incident, it made me mad. Why hadn’t anyone told me that my adrenal system was shot and being easily startled was part of that? Over the years, I forgot about it as I worked to rebuild the health of my adrenals. Someone reminded me of this and that’s why I wrote the post. It’s also common for those with fibromyalgia/chronic illness/autoimmune dysfunction to have issues with neuropathy. For me, it was tingling (very unpleasant) feelings and numbness in one arm and one leg only. It started in the arm and eventually occurred in the leg, too. For me — and I’m just relaying my own experience — my numbness/neuropathy went away when I changed my nutrition, began a consistent slow and gently fitness routine, and got off of my fibromyalgia medications. I would never suggest that anyone change or alter their medications, but you may wish to check the side-effects listing. The ones I was on (not gabapentin) did list nerve pain and neuropathy as side-effects. By the way, better nutrition and healthy detoxification through fitness activities are part of rebuilding the adrenal system.

      I can relate to wanting your life back and I hope you find the support you need. Feel free to email me here if you have any other questions.

      1. Well, I’m writing this at 12:30 am because I forgot to take the gabapentin until 10:30, and now the pain is so bad that I can’t sleep. The gabapentin was prescribed for the neuropathy I’d been suffering with for over a year prior, so I don’t think it’s the cause. The pain is what stopped me in my tracks with regard to the way I used to exercise, but I’ve been gradually developing a new exercise routine with the support of a physical therapist. I’m willing to change my diet but need some direction with regard to what changes to make. I greatly reduced carbs starting in January and have lost the 30 pounds I’d gained when my exercise level so greatly decreased. The chronic pain, together being so limited in what I can do, has really got me feeling depressed. It’s depressing because I don’t know what’s causing it and, therefore, I don’t know what to do about it. Where can I go, who can I see, or what can I do to get some answers?

        1. Karen – that’s a great question and I can relate since I was in that same circumstance years ago. That’s exactly why I do what I do. I love working with clients one on one to help them strategize a plan of action and then to guide them along the way. Please contact me on my site so that we can discuss options available to you (whether with me or not).

  9. I have had a startle reflex as far back as I can remember. When someone jumps out from behind a door or sneaks up on me or walks in on me in the bathroom anything about not expecting someone to be in the room I have a strange reaction after I am startled, I have uncontrollable rage and many times I will punch the wall or scream out loud and swear I become very angry which I can’t explain.

    1. Randy – while I can understand why that response wouldn’t be completely desirable for you, I don’t think it’s unusual. Being startled, causes an adrenaline rush. Afterward, the body needs to get rid of the adrenaline. I think your masculine hormones turn that into anger for you. Some women I know, find themselves crying – and not knowing why – after being startled. Ideally, we’d walk it off or do something physical in a healthy way to get our bodies back into a relaxed state. Thanks for letting us know your experience, by the way. It brought up a great topic!

  10. I thought I was the only one with this problem. Both my sisters think I am a little strange because I keep my cell on vibrate because if it rings it will scare me to death! I am even started when it vibrates! Years ago I was so sensitive that if anyone came up behind me and startled me I would have alike a knee-jerk reaction and spin around and hit them. I am even startled when the air conditioning comes on in my apt. I do have lots of anxiety and a history of panic attacks so I am sure this contributes to my jumpiness.

    1. You’re definitely NOT alone! We all have stories of jumping out of our skin at things that might not be a big deal to others. So glad you’ve shared yours with us here!

  11. I think that I definitely would love to hear more. I startle very easily, and also have hypothyroidism, and even with medicine does not seem to help me. I’m still exhausted all the time, can’t concentrate, get distracted easily, and multiple noises drives me crazy! Can’t wait to hear more!

    1. Renee — I’m so glad you found this information useful! I write on this topic quite a bit and am currently writing another article for ProHealth.com expanding on this information. Stay tuned!

  12. Hello. Just came across your article about startling easily. I have had this problem for years and my husband cannot understand it and wonders why I react to an extreme! My little grandson was at my house and I must have fallen asleep in my chair, I am 72, and the poor little boy tried to wake me, very gently, and I nearly hit the roof! The poor little soul was so scared and I felt so guilty afterwards. In fact I still do.
    In Jan this year I found out I had very low B12 levels and have been getting injections for this, but I don’t think often enough. i am so, so tired and have all the nerve and numbness and pains in the joints symptoms. The one thing I can’t explain is that I am very scared all the time and at night when in bed I feel a big fear in my chest and in fact wake with it often. I hate feeling so fearful and I am wondering if this is related to Adrenal problems, I would value your opinion please. Do you know what tests I should ask for at the Docs please? I get FBCs now and again, and Thyroid function test is OK so she says. TIA.

    1. Margaret — thanks so much for your lovely comment! If you haven’t already, please check out my article for ProHealth.com that dovetails into this article and gives more information on adrenal health. http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=21347 In the comments below this article, I do mention some suggestions for testing adrenal health challenges. The tests would differ depending on the doctor you see. I’d shy away from blood tests and (sorry to say), I’d also question an “Ok” thyroid function test. There are a whole variety of thyroid tests that can be far more accurate than the ones typically given at an MD’s office. If you’d like to email me here, I can give you some links to authorities on this complex topic. I’m happy to help!

  13. I got startled twice this morning and an hour later I’m still shaking inside especially. My husband gets impatient and doesn’t understand the depth of my reaction! Sometimes I yell at him for showing up so quietly because I hate the horrible reaction I have. It shuts me down for quite awhile and sometimes I can’t follow through on our plans!
    You mentioned adrenal issues? How does one find out if these are low?
    I can’t put walls of protection around me!! I need help!

    1. June – thanks for joining in the comments here! I have another article that I wrote for ProHealth.com that addresses the adrenal connection in a more detail. http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=21347&vote=finished#discuss Check out this article and don’t miss the comments at the end with a response from me on where to go for possible testing and more help. If you have more questions – please feel free to email me here at my site 😉 Thanks again for joining in this conversation!

  14. For the last couple of years my startle reflex has been absolutely ridiculous. My husband has to start talking as he walks up the hall or before he comes into whatever room I’m in because if he doesn’t, I startle so badly that I have a blood rush, get dizzy and almost puke. It’s terrible, and I know I haven’t always been this bad. I’ve only just started getting more into researching this adrenal connection, and the more I read, the more it resonates. If I were to bring this up to a PCP, how would I go about with voicing my concerns that my issues could specifically be this and not something else? I hate the idea of looking like someone who utilizes the advice of “Dr. Google” too much, or like I’m someone who assumes that I know more than someone who has actual medical experience, but I also don’t want to be misdiagnosed and possibly be given an unnecessary medication to take.

    1. Kelly – I’m so glad you shared your experiences here. No, your startle reflex isn’t “terrible.” It’s normal. If you’re “this bad” right now, then there’s a reason. Most PCPs are not all that familiar with adrenal issues. I know this sounds generic, but learning to handle stress (prayer, meditation, deep breathing, relaxation, etc.) is the first step toward getting the adrenals to function properly. They’re stuck in overdrive, and it takes intentional stress management practices to tame that down. Feel free to email me here to chat more. Thanks again for sharing!

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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" ~ Sue Ingebretson