Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Noise sensitivity and screaming

Curious if anyone else has a loved one with increased sensitivity to noises, (lawn mowers) and resulting screaming? Any strategies that helped?


My son does have increased sensitivity to noises. I read that the tendencies for heightened senses is from the brain staying in, what I would call, an alert crisis mode. I will try to explain - its like when something startles you in the dark. Adrenalin kicks in, your heart races and you become hyper aware of sound. Almost like a switch has flipped in your brain. Most of us get pretty jumpy when that switch flips on.

The researchers who did the study were trying to find out if it could be used an indicator for future scz. If I recall correctly, they found that most infants when exposed to a sudden loud sound would have a lesser reaction when the sudden loud sound was repeated. They discovered that for a small number of infants, the second loud sound caused the equal reaction as the first loud sound. Their brains didn’t adjust for the second sound, they startled as though it was the first time.

My take away from this was that my son with his extreme paranoia and anxiety was often living with this " heightened sensitivity switch" wide open.

What an awful state of being to also hear voices in! Some people told us that noise blocking headphones did help their family members and others said music playing in headphones helped theirs.

Understanding that is was an actual physical sensitivity helped us be more sympathetic.

My daughter is 20. She has Down syndrome but is high functioning. Scz is a recent add to her medical profile, although it may have been here for a while but her mom and I didn’t realize. Anyway - yes, noise is one of her psychotic episode triggers - the blender, the garbage disposal, loud music, the noisy washing machine, a flock of teenagers talking in the house, tense conversations - all seem to be triggers.

But when I remember to tell her I’m going to do something noisy and ask if she would mind, she almost always says no she wouldn’t mind, and then it doesn’t bother her. (If she says she would mind I wait for a better time).

Welcome to the forum EsDad, it a nice place to find.

Scz has a way of creeping in without us realizing it at first. In some ways it was a relief for us to finally understand what was going on with our son.

That is a really good suggestion, they tell us not to “walk on eggshells” but we want to be considerate of their struggles.