What is Exaggerated Startle Reflex and are there certain methods that might help to relieve unwanted startle reactions to common, everyday situations?
First, let's talk about the startle response. This is a natural defensive response to sudden or threatening stimuli. Usually the onset of the startle response is a reflex reaction. The startle reflex is a brain stem refectory reaction (reflex) that serves to protect the back of the neck (whole-body startle) and the eyes (eye-blink) and facilitates escape from sudden stimuli.
Most babies have this natural startle reflex (Moro Reflex) early on in life to protect them from dangerous situations, like falling, but the reflex normally disappear within the first few months of life. To help a child who is easily upset by this reflex, health professionals suggest that the baby be swaddled, or held close to the parent while sleeping. All of my children had this reflex when they were young, but quickly grew out of it.
On the other hand, if the startle reflex persists into adulthood, well, it can be unsettling, to say the least. I mean, who wants to be startled several times during a typical day? When this happens the heart rate increases, the Adrenalin kicks in and there is that uneasy feeling of fight or flight. For the person experiencing this response it can be very disturbing. Yes, we may chuckle a little when we accidentally startle a friend who suffers with this exaggerated response, but we don't often think about the discomfort it causes for them.
We may just think it odd that our friend is so easily startled, but there is actually a medical term for an unusual and ongoing startle response to normal, everyday interactions with others. It is called an Exaggerated Startle Response.
This response can be triggered by common everyday activities and may be elicited by lightly touching the person's nose, clapping or making other noises, suddenly jolting the person's chair, or simply an unexpected touch or voice from behind. But, there is hope. Some have found relief by using certain essential oils or oil blends like, Peace and Calming.
Listed below are a few suggestions:
White Angelica. White Angelica is an essential oil blend designed to counter negativity and give a feeling of security. This blend includes Ylang Ylang, Rose, Melissa, Sandalwood, Geranium, Spruce, Myrrh, Hyssop, Bergamot, and Rosewood.
Deep Relief. This is a blend of nine different oils! Peppermint, Wintergreen, Dorado Azul, Clove, Copaiba, Lemon, Vetiver, Canadian Balsam Fir, and Helichrysum. It helps to relieve muscle tension, soreness, soothes sore joints and ligaments, calms stressed nerves, and helps to relieve inflammation and pain.
Peace and Calming. This is a blend of Ylang Ylang, Orange, Tangerine, Patchouli, and Blue Tansy. Mentioned above, this blend promotes relaxation, a deep sense of peace and emotional well-being, dampens tensions, and uplifts feelings. You can use this blend in a diffuser, add to bath water, apply to wrists, edge of ears, or feet. Or you may choose to combine it with lavender to support better sleep.
PanAway. PanAway is a blend of Wintergreen, helichrysum, clove, and peppermint. It helps to reduce pain and inflammation and promotes healthy muscles. Add PanAway to your bath water for a spa-like experience!
Stress Away. I use this often! This is a wonderful blend of Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ocotea and Lavender. It brings feelings of peace and tranquility, helps relieve daily stress and nervous tension, improves mental response, restores equilibrium, promotes relaxation, and lowers hypertension (because of its ability to reduce stress).
Lavender. Use Lavender as a relaxant and to reduce inflammation. Among many other uses, Young Living's Lavender Vitality (GRAS) certified by the FDA for internal use, may also be taken as a supplement for seasonal discomforts.
SARA. This blend is so important to have on hand during difficult or emotional times. It is a blend of Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Rose, and Blue Tansy. It helps a person to relax into a mental state that facilitates the releasing of trauma.
RutaVaLa. This blend of 3 oils – Ruta (Ruta Graveolens), Valerian and Lavender promotes overall well-being in mind and body. It has proven to be effective in dealing with various problems related to the nervous system and promotes emotional balance. It soothes stressed nerves, and supports a good nights sleep.
Trauma Life. This oil contains Valerian, Lavender, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Rose, Helichrysum, Spruce, Geranium, Davana and Citrus Hystrix. It aids in combating stress, uproots trauma that causes insomnia, anger, restlessness, and a weakened immune response.
Valor. This is one of my favorite blends. It includes Black Spruce, Blue Tansy, Rosewood, and Frankincense. This blend helps to balance the electrical energies in the body and increases feelings of strength, courage, and self-esteem.
Tranquil. This is a blend of 3 oils – Lavender, Cedarwood and Roman Chamomile. All 3 of these oils are documented for helping to reduce anxiety and bring calmness. It helps to reduce restlessness, decreases anxiety, has a calming effect on mind and body, and is uplifting and relaxing. It also promotes sleep and reduces stress. Put these oils together as a blend and you have something that will help you feel like yourself again.
Release. Here is another great blend containing Ylang Ylang, Lavandin, Geranium, Sandalwood and Blue Tansy. It help in the release of anger and memory trauma from the liver and opens the subconscious mind through pineal stimulation.
Joy. This is one of my personal favorites! A wonderful aromatic blend of Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Lemon, Coriandrum Sativum Seed Oil, Mandarin, Jasmine, Roman chamomile, Palmarosa, and Rose! It produces magnetic energy and helps overcome grief and depression.
Present Time. Here's a nice blend of Neroli, Spruce, and Ylang Ylang. It promotes the feelings of empowerment in the present, and may help you get beyond the past and move towards the future.
Frankincense. This one comes up also in the oil blend Trauma Life. Frankincense is another oil that helps stimulate the limbic region of the brain, which is where we deal with our emotions. This is my personal favorite for prayer time.
Ways to Use Essential Oils
The most common way to use essential oils is with a diffuser, which is why there are so many different styles and sizes available. I personally have one in almost every room of my home. One of my favorites is the Dessert Mist diffuser and is included in the Premium Starter Kit (below). A diffuser breaks up the oil and disperses the particles into the air where you breathe them into your lungs. It’s the fastest way to absorb the oil into the body. Putting a few drops of oil mixed with carrier oil into your warm bath water is another way to diffuse these oils.
You can also use essential oils by mixing them with carrier oil and rubbing the mixture directly onto the skin. This is the best method for easing sore, achy muscles caused by stress and tension (especially when applied to the back of the neck and shoulders). You can also mix the oil with water and put it in a spray bottle to use as an air freshener or put a couple of drops on your pillow at night to help you rest more peacefully.
Using essential oils has other benefits too, that may help to improve your overall health in addition to helping with the symptoms associated with an Exaggerated Startle Reflex. For example, they can boost your immune system, increase circulation and aid the digestive system.
If you’re suffering with an Exaggerated Startle Reflex, aromatherapy may be exactly what you need to help relieve your symptoms. It’s a natural and effective way to help you feel better so you can enjoy life to its fullest.
*Six of the oils/blends listed above, along with a diffuser, are included in Young Living's Premium Starter Kit.