Why do i get scared easily

Why Am I So Jumpy and Easily Startled?

When you feel jumpy, everything seems a distraction. It doesn’t take much to startle you, and you can’t seem to wind down or get much sleep. It’s tough to get through the day and night like this, and at some point, you want answers. 

Here we’ll explore some of the more common reasons you may be feeling jumpy. Some issues may be easier to resolve than others, but we’ll also review several ways to deal with a sensitive startle reaction no matter what the cause.

Experiencing acute stress

Think about the last time you felt noticeably stressed by something. Maybe a last-minute problem happened at work right before a big meeting. Or perhaps your vehicle broke down on a busy street. When you perceive something as a threat or an upsetting surprise, your mind and body go into a stress response. 

The two parts of a person's autonomic nervous system work together to manage the fight-or-flight stress response. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the body and gets it ready for action, and the parasympathetic system calms the body down for rest.  

The stress response includes physical sensations that prepare you to either fight or flee. Your body sends surges of hormones through your bloodstream and oxygenated blood to large muscles. All of these physical responses are helpful when you’re facing immediate danger, but this can be overwhelming sometimes. 

A jammed printer before an important meeting isn’t the same kind of threat as facing an angry bear, but your body doesn’t know any different. It's easy to see how you might be startled by things that usually wouldn't be an issue.

Hypersensitive nervous system 

If a person can’t resolve their reaction to stress in the short term, their nervous system may feel like it’s in overdrive. When a person experiences short-term stress, both systems work together to get the body ready for the threat and to settle down when it passes. 

But with chronic stress, the sympathetic system keeps the body amped up with less help from the parasympathetic system. This imbalance can make a person feel like they are always at the ready and can't relax. The body goes with the path of least resistance. With more practice staying alert than calming down, it’s likely to remain in a state of hyperarousal.

Symptom of insomnia

If you’re having trouble sleeping, you may also feel easily overstimulated at all times of the day. Part of the problem with insomnia is the body’s hyperarousal, excessive sensitivity to stimulation. Studies have shown that people with insomnia are hyper-aroused during the time they’re trying to fall asleep. These individuals are exhausted but can't settle their body or mind, causing the state of being “tired but wired.” 

Experts also believe that a general state of hyperarousal may cause insomnia. In other words, a person with insomnia may feel on edge and unproductive during the day because their body is hyper-aroused around the clock, not from the lack of sleep.

Anxiety disorders

Chronic anxiety disorders can also cause a person to startle easily or overreact to stimuli. It may seem like a person's nervous system would be most active at the height of stress. However, the sympathetic system is actually flowing more strongly all the time, possibly in anticipation of stress. 

When the body repeatedly anticipates stressful events, it can seem like the faucet of arousal is always left open and running. Instead of an ebb and flow of arousal based on the circumstance, the flow is exaggerated and nearly constant. 

Trauma - PTSD and acute stress disorder 

People can experience trauma at any time in their life, and many recover on their own. But some become traumatized by what they witnessed or went through. Their mind and body become trapped in their nervous system’s intense reaction. They may re-experience the trauma repeatedly and feel constantly overstimulated. Many people need help reprocessing the trauma so their mind and body can calm down.

Acute stress disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD have overlapping symptoms, with hyperarousal being one of them. The main difference between the two is the timeframe and duration of symptoms after the trauma. ADS symptoms develop right after the event, and symptoms last no longer than a month. With PTSD, symptoms may develop more slowly and can last for months or years, even with treatment.

Shared symptoms of PTSD and ASD

Here are some of the shared symptoms between PTSD and ASD and how they contribute to feeling jumpy and easily startled.

Hyperarousal symptoms

Irritable behavior including angry outbursts, being aggressive to people or objects

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep, restlessness
  • Hypervigilance
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Exaggerated startle response

Excessive caffeine or other stimulants 

Drinking your daily coffee or energy drink can help you feel ready for the day. But it can also leave you feeling shaky and unsettled. Your body may feel like it can’t settle down, and everything makes you twitch. And by the time you realize what’s happened, you may have no choice but to just wait it out.  

These symptoms can be worse if you already feel stressed or have a history of anxiety symptoms. Your body’s reaction to caffeine becomes another layer of stimulation on an already highly active nervous system. By the end of the day, you may feel like your nervous system is frazzled, and you want to crash. 

How to calm down when you feel jumpy or startled 

It's exhausting to feel jumpy or overly sensitive to your surroundings all day, and it's hard to rest and restore yourself when you can't turn down the volume knob on your nervous system. It also takes a toll on your mental state, which can feed into a vicious cycle of stress. But with time and some practice, you can retrain your body to relax. Here are some simple and practical ways to calm your mind and body. 

  • Do deep breathing exercises.
  • Do an aerobic workout, weight training, or other physical activity like heavy chores or yard work.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Touch something cold like ice or cool water.
  • Squeeze a firm object as hard as you can, then let go.
  • Smell a familiar aroma that soothes you like vanilla, or think of favorite scents.
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why do I get startled so easily?

We all know someone who gets startled at the smallest surprise. Bonus points because it can be especially entertaining when you’re watching a scary movie together with your friends, who jump at the slightest noise.

But why is it that some people get surprised so easily, while others are seemingly tranquil and at ease with everything that happens around them?

Let me explain why some people have such a strong startle reflex.


Why do I startle so easily?

The reason you startle so easily is probably because you’re stressed or anxious. Whenever this happens, the startle response is likely to increase in strength.

Folks that have a nervous predisposition or personality profile tend to have a higher startle response.

It’s also possible that the startle response is connected to a specific anxiety such as a fear of elevators, fear of spiders (arachnophobia), or a fear of flying, to give a couple of examples.


Why do I suddenly startle so easily?

If you suddenly startle easily despite generally being calm and at ease, then it’s probably a good sign that you’re suffering from stress, which tends to increase the startle reflex.

It can also be the case that another issue has entered the scene, such as a specific phobia. Think of things like a fear of spiders, or being afraid of elevators, which obviously increases the amount of emotional distress we experience.


Do people with anxiety get startled easily?

Yes, people with anxiety get startled more easily than folks who are at ease and not suffering from tension.

One of the physical symptoms of anxiety is a quick heartbeat. And it has been shown that a fast heartbeat leads to getting shocked faster than those who are relaxed.


Do newborns startle easily?

Yes, newborns startle easily since their nervous system is still developing.

Never mind the fact that they’re experiencing an extreme amount of new sensations and information in such a short period of time, which inclines to increasing stress because of the large variety of mostly unknown impressions.


Why is my startle reflex so strong?

The intensity and frequency of the startle response is dependent on the emotional tension, stress, and fatigue one is experiencing.

This means that the more nervous, tired, and general tension you experience, the stronger the startle response will be. Not to mention that the reflex will probably increase in frequency as well.


Why do I jump at the slightest noise?

You probably jump at the slightest noise because you’re experiencing a lot of stress. The emotional tension you experience can be a result of feeling anxious, stressed, fatigued, or because of a multitude of the above.

Most people who jump at the slightest noise have an anxious susceptibility, which means they’re typically much easier to startle than those who are chill and relaxed.


How do I lower my startle response?

We can lower the startle response by lowering the stress we experience. We accomplish this by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming the body and putting it in a relaxed state.

This means we should eliminate the causes of our stress. Which imparts that we should limit our anxiousness, and sleep well. Breathing exercises can help us to calm down, and to engage our parasympathetic nervous system.

When we’re anxious and nervous, the sympathetic nervous system is highly active. Overactive even. The sympathetic nervous system activates the body and prepares it for physical activity. However, we don’t want this system to be turned on all the time since it requires a lot of energy and raises cortisol levels, which is our stress hormone.


Is being easily startled a trauma response?

It’s possible that being easily startled is a trauma response, although not always.

Let’s say that you’re suffering from PTSD because you’ve been through some rough times in your life.

As a result of this trauma, you might constantly feel on edge, and become hyperaware as a result.

Hypervigilance is an anxiety disorder that’s characterized by intrusive thoughts, and sometimes compulsions. Due to feeling intense anxiety, it’s possible that you get startled much more easily than someone who’s relaxed.


Is it normal to get startled easily?

It is normal to possess a startle response, seeing as everyone has one. Nevertheless, some people are much easier to startle than others.


People who startle easily can feel on edge, jittery, nervous, and uneasy. The smallest thing such as hearing a cellphone ringing can set them off, and cause them to jump.


What causes an exaggerated startle response?

While a startle response is normal depending on the circumstances, an exaggerated startle response is not.


An exaggerated startle reflex is most likely caused by a brain stem issue, or defect.


This is backed up by the density of glycine receptors in the spinal cord in addition to the brain stem. (Rousseau et al., 2008). Characteristic unreasonable startling is typically caused by damage to the brain stem. (Bakker et al., 2006).


Is being easily startled genetic?


Being easily startled is most likely partly explained by genetics, in addition to our personality that is shaped by our experiences.


A gene that’s known as catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) commands an enzyme that aids to take apart dopamine in our body.


Dopamine is a hormone and a type of neurotransmitter. It plays an essential role in many critical body functions such as movement, memory and delivering an enjoyable motivation and reward experience.


German scientists discovered that people with a specific, common deviation of the COMT gene are more inclined to have an exaggerated startle response.


Obviously, this common variant of the COMT gene could result in making them more susceptible to anxiety disorders.


Final note

People who startle easily usually have an anxious, nervous predisposition since they experience more emotive stress, fatigue, and overall emotional tension.

We can’t change the genetic part of the issue, but what we can do is reduce the distress we go through to put our bodies in a more relaxed state.


Fright - Psychologos

October 01, 2022, 21:31

Fright is a reflex reaction to a dangerous or terrible surprise (for example, an unexpected sharp sound, light or other critical stimulus).

The reaction usually includes shuddering, dilated pupils, freezing of the body and retraction of the head into the neck, less often urination, defecation, a feeling of cold.

Fright and a feeling of fright

Fright is often identified with a feeling of fright, but this is not correct. Fear is not a feeling or an emotion, but a purely bodily reflex reaction. The feeling of fright is a change in the entire functional state of a person, both body, mind, and soul. A person in a situation of danger may experience reflex vegetative reactions of the type of fright (fear), but he will remain internally collected, positive and decisive. On the other hand, a person can live in a constant state of fear (or rather, fear), with a constant feeling of fear, although outwardly, objectively, nothing terrible happens.

Fear and fear

Fear is not to be confused with fear - fear is neither a feeling nor an emotion. It is true that the feeling of fear very often traditionally follows fright, but often does not mean always and does not mean a regular connection.

Started - it's just a fright. He shuddered and came up with a terrible picture - already closer to fear. Now I put a picture before my eyes, I enliven it with my shudder and I feel it from the inside as kinesthetics - wow, I'm already afraid! Already made and fear, and a sense of fear.

The connection of fright and feeling of fear is only a connection of habit. Fright can cause a variety of emotions: fear, panic, composure, rage, aggression, and so on - depending on the habit and the surrounding circumstances.

One, frightened, triggers fear and panic, the other - aggression and rage, the third - calmness and determination. Everyone could have the initial fright, but the third are called heroes.

What affects the strength of fright

The strength of fright is affected by:

  • The unexpectedness of what happened. The more unexpected what happened, the stronger the feeling of fear. From the slam of a door or a sharp explosion of a balloon - there is just a slight shudder, from more terrible irritants - freezing, a feeling of cold, and so on.
  • Previous negative experience. If before that some unpleasant memory is connected with what happened, the fright will be stronger, and it will arise even with a hint of a terrible situation. It happens that a horse, having fallen heavily during a jump, is then afraid to even enter a territory similar to the one where it fell.
  • Current emotional background: if a person is tense, worried, excited - fear can manifest itself on the weakest impact of the outside world. Dark night, deserted street, and suddenly the door of the black entrance creaked... - Horror! Or a sun-drenched morning, a lot of people, the entrance door creaks... - Just think...
  • Repeated exposure with the ability to make sure that the fright is not terrible: then addiction occurs and the fright passes. Once you clapped your hands in front of your face, you blinked involuntarily. Two clapped - you blinked. Three clapped - and you are no longer afraid, you are used to it and do not blink . ..

The evolution of fear

Fear is one of the most ancient reactions of all living beings, along with pain and aggression. In the animal world, fear is needed to save oneself from external factors. If the animal was saved from internal injuries by pain, then from external injuries it was fear, pain and aggression.

Primitive animals need fright to somehow protect themselves from troubles from the outside world, the reaction to fright is basically to run away, swim away, crawl away from the frightened object.

The further the species evolved, the more complex the response to fright became. Generally speaking, the response to fear in the mammalian animal kingdom includes four steps:

Run away! as soon as possible.

In this case, the horse takes the rider anywhere, as long as it is away from this place. There were cases when, frightened, the horses ran away so stupidly that they broke on the trees standing in their way.

If it is impossible to escape - Fight!

Everyone knows that a cornered wild animal is more dangerous than any other.

If there is not enough strength to fight - Freeze in a stupor, numb.

The goal is to stun the enemy, simulate his own death - what if he falls behind?

If that didn't help, lose consciousness.

Because it's too scary to think any further.

Fright here is just a starting point, everything else happens without a head, just on instincts. Some types of steps may not have all, and some are excluded. The easiest way to check this chain on horses is that they have developed it to perfection.

However, evolution did not stop in the animal world and went on. People, unlike their smaller brothers, are able to turn on their heads in a state of fright.

Another thing is that they are not always used.

A person in the moment after a fright always has a choice - what to do next. And many people know how and are accustomed to triggering a feeling of fear not by fear, but by composure, vigor, calmness, determination. However, there are those who still prefer to react differently.

Thank God people can't run fast enough to crash into a tree.

How to cope with fear

It is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to cancel your own reflex reactions. But it is possible to learn how to start fear not fear, but determination. How to do this - see Dealing with Fear.

  • Reflex
  • Psychophysiology
  • Fright

0002 What to do when there is no startle reaction? There is fear, but it comes in a couple of seconds after realizing what happened, but there is no fear, it never happens. It's a disease? If I don’t flinch, squeal, or even blink in response to surprise, is this a sign of some kind of nervous breakdown?



N. I. Kozlov, August 02, 2016, 10:48

You are completely healthy. Fright was needed at a time when people lived mainly in a cave. Today, fear is more of a vestige. Everything is fine!

Guest, September 05, 2017, 10:55 PM

Hello! And if I get frightened very easily, and all the time, of loud noises, a person who suddenly approaches, or even just someone speaks in silence, well, in general, always and quite sharply, I can scream.



Kozlov Nikolay Ivanovich, September 07, 2017, 06:22

Excellent! Perhaps you wanted to know what to do with this feature of yours? The first answer is to retrain yourself. Goethe was also afraid of loud sounds for half his life, and then he decided to retrain himself and began to go every day to the square where military parades were rehearsed - where drums were beaten and cannons were fired. Relearned and stopped flinching. And the second answer - stop paying attention to it. Well, scared - so what? It's not a big deal for health. And then why should you pay attention to it for more than a couple of seconds?

Guest, November 05, 2017, 10:09 AM

If you were scared in the order of the draw, but there is aggression and a desire to hit - is this normal?



Kozlov Nikolay Ivanovich, November 07, 2017, 09:00

As long as this desire to hit is normal. And if you hit, then it’s not normal anymore, you need to be able to control yourself.

Guest, February 01, 2018, 10:42

Good afternoon. Tell me, please, is it normal that after a strong fright, the heart is pounding furiously for quite a long time, and the body becomes cottony? Thank you in advance.



Kozlov Nikolai Ivanovich, February 2, 2018, 2:09 pm

Each of us has our own height, weight, skin color and hormonal profile. You have one like this. However, if you set the task to train your body and achieve other reactions, everything is possible. They do it in the army.

Guest, 08 January 2020, 18:01

Of course it's normal! But if you do not like this state, then try to calm down! The best comforter is food. Eat something!

Guest, August 30, 2018 4:31 PM

Hello! My husband always shudders, gets very frightened and later gets very angry, even if you drop a spoon on the floor, any sharp sound makes him angry. I can't figure out what's wrong with him and how to help him. Who should be contacted first?

Thank you in advance! Olga

Guest, November 26, 2018, 01:28

Hello, there was a problem. Literally a year ago, a friend scared me, I looked in the mirror to fix my hair, as a result, a friend said that you can’t look in the mirror at night, because spirits go there, I was very afraid, from harshness, I began to involuntarily shed tears, after that, he started to finish me off, it got really bad. We went outside to get some air, and as a result, we found a toy that glows red, a toy imp. I don’t know, maybe it was an unfortunate combination of events, but it became creepy, after that I suffer from panic attacks for a whole year, thoughts are in a fog, I can’t imagine a single picture in my head. I went to a psychologist, went to grandmothers, nothing has changed dramatically. I somehow already scored more or less on the problem, I got used to it a little, but every other day I remember, it doesn’t get very good, as if a piece of my soul is twitching. As I remember, it becomes creepy and scary.



Guest, June 05, 2019, 10:24 pm

You understand that a toy is just a toy. A mirror is just a mirror. Look at things with real eyes - everything will be fine with you.

Guest, July 30, 2019, 07:48 AM

Hello! We have a problem with a child. He may fall from surprise / fright, and so for a long time. For example, if you sharply turn to him or touch his shoulder. Which doctor should we contact? To a neurologist or psychologist?

Guest, September 09, 2019, 00:54

Hello, this problem appeared more than six months ago, when you are in silence, before going to bed, with sharp sounds (switching the refrigerator mode, turning off the aquarium lighting, etc.) twitches everything the body, not much but palpable, and it seems to me that this is a reaction from one place, which is the same during rest and just before going to bed, it twitches more precisely twitched, now it is very rare, and the place is below the chest at the edge of the ribs on the left, what could it be, neurology from harsh working conditions?



Guest, September 10, 2019, 08:04 AM

Finally, go to a neurologist, or at least a therapist. Stop being so mean to yourself!

Guest, November 06, 2019, 04:18 PM

What to do? If even sudden movements make you blink, squint, cover yourself with your hands?

Guest, January 03, 2020, 20:57

Hello. We are fighting, and once I was very scared of shelling when I was at home with my children, although before that I calmly reacted to the shooting, believing that our area was more or less safe. And then one day, I was at home with the children, and there was a shelling. They fired around, my house, thank God, is intact. But after that, in the evenings, I can’t find a place for myself, I can’t be at home alone, even if and with someone, I’m scared, even when it’s quiet ... I stay overnight at someone’s, everything is fine, but not at home. In the morning everything is fine, there is no fear, but only until the evening. I understand that I was frightened, but I don’t know what to do with this .. Help, please.

Guest, Jul 11, 2021 12:11 pm

What should I do if I flinch when people appear? For example, I'm cooking in the kitchen, suddenly my sister comes in, and I startle. Although she did not come abruptly and there were no surprises, as such.



Sokolova L. V., secretary N.I. Kozlova, July 12, 2021, 10:47

Good afternoon, dear guests of the site! You can get a free consultation at the University of Practical Psychology https://www.univer-pp.ru/bk/.

Guest, October 27, 2021 4:06 PM

What do you do when you're scared of everything? For example, you can shudder when someone stood behind the wall, or someone from the family opened the door to your room, somewhere creaked. And you didn’t pay attention to it before, but now you are almost twitching from any action and sound.

Guest, January 11, 2022, 03:30

Hello, please tell me, I feel fright when I meet a certain person. I can control it, it's all right. It’s just that the very fact of fright surprises me (the heartbeat is strong, the desire to defend oneself), although in reality there is no reason, nothing unexpected happens, and the person is not aggressive, and never has been. And it’s not like fear, I calmly go to a meeting, but at the moment of the meeting I have a physical fright that I don’t understand, after a couple of minutes the fright goes away, and I normally communicate with this person, although sometimes my stomach cramps.



Sokolova L.V., secretary N.I. Kozlova, January 12, 2022, 12:17

Good afternoon, dear guests of the site! You can get a free consultation at the University of Practical Psychology https://www.univer-pp.ru/bk/.

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I'm scared of everything. - Psychology

Hello! I am 18 years old. I have such a problem: I don’t know when it started, but I started to be afraid of everything: the car honked, the door slammed, the dog barked, and even someone sneezed, coughed ... I immediately shudder, sometimes I get scared to darkening in my eyes and heart pain. There is fear, almost unreasonable, I just sit and my heart starts to squeeze, beat furiously. I often have nightmares or something incomprehensible that does not make any sense. all over my body. After couples at the university, I immediately go home, I don’t want to leave the house at all. I’m more and more afraid of bad thoughts that sometimes get into my head, and from which it’s hard not to think. They tell me about their problems, but they don't want to listen to me, and if they do, they make me feel guilty. I don't know what to do, but it still haunts me. Please help me figure it out.

The best answer according to the author

Alexandra, you have accumulated stressful situations that you did not give an outlet to, did not survive, and perhaps, following your parental attitudes, tried not to pay attention. Now these stresses provoke nightmares in you and you shudder from sharp sounds and in your head bad thoughts creep in, which you are also afraid of. Regarding the past, you can start a notebook and write your memoirs. It will awaken heavy emotions in you, but don’t be afraid - you can survive it all, and it’s still hard for you, only uselessly hard). Your psyche will be cleansed in this way. The old will not burden you. if you have questions in the process of this work, contact the chat, to any chosen psychologist. but this is paid work, because it requires the expenditure of the psychologist's nervous energy, professional knowledge and time. If you liked the answer, put a plus or click on a star if the answer seemed to be the best. good luck to you in life.

The best answer according to the author

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