Recovering from an adrenaline hangover
April 27, 2018 7:13 AM   Subscribe

In times of intense emotion, especially conflict/confrontation, I have an overwhelming adrenaline response. The next day, I have hangover-like symptoms: fatigue, headache, sensitivity to light/sound, continued loss of appetite, and difficulty thinking clearly. It usually lasts for 24-48 hours. Is there any way to recover more quickly, or make the hangover less intense?

I'm living in a high-conflict situation and I can't leave yet. Going through one or two of these adrenaline rush/hangover cycles a week has left me so, so exhausted. I'm struggling at work and falling behind on general life management tasks.

The adrenaline response I'm talking about usually includes uncontrollable shaking, cold/numb hands and feet and loss of coordination, complete loss of appetite and difficulty swallowing food/water, and sometimes visual disturbances like flashing lights or tunnel vision. I am doing everything I can think of to avoid having the conflicts/confrontations in the first place and to manage the intensity of my response to conflict, including counseling, medication for depression/anxiety, breathing exercises and nonviolent communication techniques. All of this has been somewhat helpful in reducing the frequency/intensity, but it still happens, and I need to learn how to recover more quickly.
posted by xylothek to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was a PTSD thing for me. You might want to think about PTSD therapy. All of those things happen when I have a flashback or am episode, but therapy (I did EMDR) helped a lot.

That situation sounds very hard and I’m sorry you’re experiencing it.
posted by sockermom at 7:19 AM on April 27, 2018 [9 favorites]


I came to say what sockermom did. My best suggestion is to use the adrenaline rush to do productive work so it makes the hangover less obvious and overwhelming.
posted by corb at 7:32 AM on April 27, 2018


Drink lots of water. Eat an apple or other healthy thing each day - set that bar as low as it needs to be for yourself, but get some fiber.

Do your breathing exercises and all the other good care every day, not just when you’re recovering from the adrenaline.

Work to reset your baseline of anxiety and stress so that the confrontations take you from a 6 to a 9 instead of from. 7 to a 10 (or wherever you can find improvement).

This is counter intuitive but from DBT I learned to practice having things that felt like confrontations to me. Saying no to minor requests. Requesting things. Getting better at these made much bigger confrontations much more bearable now.
posted by bilabial at 7:41 AM on April 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Your question intrigued me because I relate to it very acutely, and yet it never occured to me that there was anything to do but go to bed and try to rest and recover (which, I know, is not always practical or possible).

This article suggests physical activity, dietary adjustments, electrolyte adjustments, and nutritional supplementation. This article also talks about food as medicine. This article is aimed at people who deliberately put themselves in high adrenaline situations; one point that it makes is to shock the system with cold water, but also to rehydrate (this comes back to electrolyte balance).

In my own experience, reviewing my diet, making adjustments and adding supplements (B complex FTW!) has definitely helped "smooth out" my mental state a bit, taking me from always feeling chaotic, to knowing that the chaos is around me but not within me, if that makes sense (in other words, I can deal with the situation or the circumstances, without generally just feeling like I am crazy).

I wish you godspeed that you can get out of your chaotic situation soon.
posted by vignettist at 7:45 AM on April 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Try this. While your in the adrenaline surges. Go for a walk, and tell yourself that your only job in the world at this moment is to breathe. Breath in for 6 seconds and out for 6 seconds. Count it out, when your mind wanders remember this is your only job for the foreseeable future. BREATHE
posted by Takeyourtime at 7:52 AM on April 27, 2018


My partner wrote a poem recently about how adrenaline is a 3-year old child. What do 3-year olds like? They like to run around and play, they like ice cream & sugar highs, they like cuddles and crash naps and silly simple movies, they like splashing in puddles until their socks get wet. It may be possible to turn the energy into positive change; to let the 3-year old grow up a bit, do something responsible with the energy.

I get these adrenaline/anxiety rushes too though there usually isn't an identifiable source. Sometimes I just go lie in bed under three quilts until the comforting weight calms me down. Sometimes I do something wildly creative or energetic.

(All of this is in addition to trying to find things to reduce the duration, intensity and recurrence of the anxiety. My comment is intended as back-end suggestion, what if you are already there and need to deal with it.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:29 AM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


High intensity exercise works for me. By that I mean a run/sprints, sprinting on a bike, an exercise class, or my fav, martial arts. Get sweating, then have a delicious shower.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:29 AM on April 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


I do a hot bath with epsom salts and lavender or curling up with blankets, lots of deep breathing and lovingly forcing myself to eat soup or other low-chewing foods with a small spoon, drink lots of fluids through a straw (it's easier), and do little comforting routines that are also self-care. For example, very carefully making the bed. If I have to go do life, stick-on heating pads are a saviour for me.

As far as I know, speeding up recovery is tough because it takes time for the body to make more adrenaline and get back to normal levels after using it up so fast? Hopefully someone else can confirm or deny.
posted by windykites at 8:30 AM on April 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


This reminds me of when I had panic attacks. My therapist at the time said I needed to use up and dissipate the adrenaline in my system. She suggested clenching and unclenching my fists multiple times. My doctor also suggested, prescribed really, some kind of daily exercise, even if it was a walk. Good luck.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:03 AM on April 27, 2018


The adrenaline response I'm talking about usually includes uncontrollable shaking, cold/numb hands and feet and loss of coordination, complete loss of appetite and difficulty swallowing food/water, and sometimes visual disturbances like flashing lights or tunnel vision.

This, and the aftermath:

The next day, I have hangover-like symptoms: fatigue, headache, sensitivity to light/sound, continued loss of appetite, and difficulty thinking clearly. It usually lasts for 24-48 hours. Is there any way to recover more quickly, or make the hangover less intense?

Really sounds like migraines, and pretty bad ones at that.

I think you should try to see a migraine specialist, and look into medications.
posted by jamjam at 9:46 AM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Relax. Like, smoke a bowl and pass out in a pool float relax. Make space in your life to just be in the sunshine and not have to do fuck all, ideally somewhere without cell reception. Disconnect from the bullshit in your life and just do something super easy and pleasurable, whatever that means for you. And if part of your "hangover" involves persistent thoughts about whatever your most recent trauma was, or worries about what might happen in the near future, I highly recommend drugs. I like cannabis because it works for me and doesn't create dependency like most mind-altering substances do, but whatever works for you as long as you're using it responsibly.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:13 AM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Forest bathing?
posted by oceano at 2:50 PM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I, too, think it's migraine. Truly hellish-sounding, epic two-day migraine. Go and see a neurologist. 'til then, do everything Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The says to do except please I'm begging you, do NOOOOOOOOOOOOOT smoke a bowl. I can't imagine anything worse than having an endless migraine and monkeying with my sense of time so that every second feels like fortyfive minutes.

If you're on hormonal birth control or other hormonal anything, that might be a contributing factor. I don't know about antidepressants, whether they contribute or what, though I've heard you shouldn't mix them with migraine drugs. Anyway, just go see a neurologist and unburden your soul.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:48 PM on April 27, 2018


This sounds exactly like my bad migraines.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:58 PM on April 27, 2018


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