Withdrawal-induced sensory overload: quick tips

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  • Reassure yourself that these experiences are typical of psychiatric drug withdrawal, and that the more you practice accepting them—however frightening and uncomfortable they may be to feel— the easier you’ll find you can coexist with these symptoms until they subside.
  • A few suggestions for coping with sensory overload include:
    • Turning off background noise to have a conversation
    • Putting on noise-cancelling headphones
    • Wearing dark sunglasses
    • Eliminating certain foods from the diet
    • Wearing soft fabrics.
    • Avoiding scents and fragrances
    • Repetitive rocking motions
  • Some people end up needing to avoid playing video games, or going to arcades, shopping malls and supermarkets due to sensory overload. They also set limits on themselves in other areas they know can be over-stimulating, such as television or computer screens.
  • People suggest keeping a diary of what flares the sensitivities—including food, chemicals, and activities, among other stimuli—so that they know what to avoid until this symptom resolves.
  • Get good rest.
  • Some say that the earlier they’re able to take action to help themselves when they feel sensory overload setting in, the better. This might mean planning in advance of a possibly stimulating situation what your escape plan is so that you can more easily slip away if need be.
  • Some people describe taking baths or swimming can be soothing—especially the gentle pressure from the water, and the sensation of wetness.
  • Trust your instincts if these experiences are being invalidated by others, reminding yourself of what a commonly reported withdrawal symptom this is.


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