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Signs of a Dysregulated Autonomic Nervous System


The autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic nervous system as well as the parasympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight/flight response, while the parasympathetic nervous system is in charge of resting & digesting.
There are ways to identify when either nervous system is triggered or dysregulated.
When the sympathetic nervous system is overactive, there may be an increased heart rate, feelings of increased body temperature ("suddenly feverish"), rapid or pressured speech, racing thoughts, insomnia, anxiety, manic or hypmanic type symptoms, or psycomotor agitation.
Signs of a dysregulated parasympathetic nervous system response include psychomotor retardation, catatonia, depression, feelings of decreased body temperature, slowed speech, selective mutism.

Signs of a Dysregulated Sympathetic Nervous System, Related with the Fight, Flight, & Freeze Parts of Consciousness:

  1. psychomotor agitation, such as restless legs

  2. rapid or pressured speech

  3. mania or hypomania, mistaken for bipolar disorder

  4. insomnia

  5. anxiety

  6. feeling of increased body temperature

  7. increased heart rate

  8. aggression {including anger management with fight parts or promiscuity or impulsivity with flight parts}

  9. on edge: physically prepare to “go” (run/fight)

  10. anger

  11. narrowed eyes

  12. furrowed brow

  13. sleeping less or feeling less need to sleep

  14. prefers listening to music loudly

  15. speaks in outdoor (loud) voice

  16. higher tolerance to sour, salty, & spicy foods/flavours

Signs of a Dysregulated Parasympathetic Nervous System, Related with the Submit Part of Consciousness:

  1. psychomotor retardation

  2. selective mutism

  3. depression

  4. exhaustion/fatigue

  5. catatonia

  6. feelings of decreased body temperature

  7. decreased heart rate {causing minor movements to trigger “out of breath” or feeling like heart pounding out of chest}

  8. regression {including age regression with child parts, which are submit & attach parts}

  9. physically curled up or pulled back

  10. shame

  11. large/widened eyes

  12. raised eyebrows

  13. sleeping more, or feeling the need to sleep more

  14. prefers listening to music quietly

  15. speaks extremely quietly

  16. higher tolerance for very sweet flavours


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