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Introverts feeling "drained" from social interaction. drained of what exactly? How to recharge more quickly?

acetylcholine brain fog introversion life-hacking

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#1 umbillicaria

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 04:43 AM


If you peruse the net, the common definition of an introvert is ~"someone who is drained by the presence of others". Sure, sure. Most innies can relate to the fuzziness and eventual full on brain fog that occurs over the course of an inescapable social event, even at an event you are quite enjoying!

You get "drained" -- but not of energy per se. Being well fed does not prevent this eventuality. So What neurotransmitter or chemical is being depleted? Doping my acetylcholine system has increased my stamina but only to a point. Thoughts?

To be clear, im not shy, socially anxious. I'm otherwise very happy with my introverted nature and am not asking for advice on how to become an extrovert. I just want to be more in control of how long I can intelligently participate in group activities! The 'drained' feeling hurts in a very particular way. And it takes hours to days to fully recover if you really pushed yourself--what a burden.

#2 Luminosity

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 06:29 AM

Not everything is about chemistry.

Feel free to use these self-expression threads if it helps you.

http://www.longecity...ession-threads/
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#3 The Immortalist

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 07:50 PM

Train yourself to last longer? I have this problem is well. Caffeine helps me as well. I personally think everyone has this problem actually. How can anyone keep themselves 100% focused on any sort of stimuli for hours without getting tired? Catch my drift?
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#4 rwac

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 04:54 PM

You get "drained" -- but not of energy per se. Being well fed does not prevent this eventuality. So What neurotransmitter or chemical is being depleted? Doping my acetylcholine system has increased my stamina but only to a point. Thoughts?


Have you tried drinking some sugar and maybe a bit of protein? Maybe carry along a smoothie, and see if that helps.

#5 Logan

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 06:53 PM

The anxiety is sucking the life out of you. You need to find a way to treat the anxiety and manage it better. For me it's diet, exercise, medication, and therapy.

#6 Junk Master

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 03:37 AM

Feeling drained after social interaction is a classic symptom of being on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum (Asperger's). We're still learning so much about the Spectrum but if I may theorize, we'll find having certain traits without enough to qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis will become quite common (increasingly so).

The drained feeling comes for the lack of innate social skills so the brain has to "work" rather than just react. See Thinking, Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Good news is, with enough work even those who would qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis can practice social skill sets and learn to handle them intuitively (fast thinking) and to the degree we can do that-- note I include myself-- we won't be as drained.
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#7 Ben

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:35 AM

I understand where you're coming from. I used to hate social interaction.

This is an interesting article on intro/extroversion:

charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2012/03/autistic-extravert-reflections-on.html


To overcome it, I just got a lot of it. Some people are naturals, for me though, considering my internal arousal (see link), it was useful to systemise social interaction.

#8 Now

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:19 AM

''Eysenck proposed that extraversion was caused by variability in cortical arousal. He hypothesized that introverts are characterized by higher levels of activity than extraverts and so are chronically more cortically aroused than extraverts. The fact that extraverts require more external stimulation than introverts has been interpreted as evidence for this hypothesis. Other evidence of the "stimulation" hypothesis is that introverts salivate more than extraverts in response to a drop of lemon juice.[16]''

''Extraversion has been linked to higher sensitivity of the mesolimbic dopamine system to potentially rewarding stimuli.[17] This in part explains the high levels of positive affect found in extraverts, since they will more intensely feel the excitement of a potential reward. One consequence of this is that extraverts can more easily learn the contingencies for positive reinforcement, since the reward itself is experienced as greater.''

Source: http://en.wikipedia....nd_introversion

Introverts: more cortically aroused = 'feeling drained' after social interaction?
Extraverts: more intensely feel the excitement of a potential reward = more dopamine release during/after social interaction?

Edited by Now, 09 April 2012 - 11:21 AM.

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#9 Logan

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:22 PM

Feeling drained after social interaction is a classic symptom of being on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum (Asperger's). We're still learning so much about the Spectrum but if I may theorize, we'll find having certain traits without enough to qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis will become quite common (increasingly so).

The drained feeling comes for the lack of innate social skills so the brain has to "work" rather than just react. See Thinking, Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Good news is, with enough work even those who would qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis can practice social skill sets and learn to handle them intuitively (fast thinking) and to the degree we can do that-- note I include myself-- we won't be as drained.


To simply suggest that this is a high functioning form of Asperger's is a bit ridiculous. What if the person can let loose and be wild and crazy, love with tons of passion and affection, and connect on a deeper emotional level than most? You are over simplifying things here. I had social issues in highschool. I lacked confidence in myself and had some familial issues that deeply affected me. For a year, I ate my lunch in the hall way before my next class instead of in the cafeteria. Even in my twenties when I was a social butterfly, I got completely drained by certain kinds of social situations. I simply could not function at a high level.
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#10 stephen_b

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 09:02 PM

For some people, the environment might be a confounding factor (think crowded bar/club with loud music and flashing lights). A larger crowd in a quiter setting might be less of a stressor.

#11 niner

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:00 PM

Feeling drained after social interaction is a classic symptom of being on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum (Asperger's). We're still learning so much about the Spectrum but if I may theorize, we'll find having certain traits without enough to qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis will become quite common (increasingly so).

The drained feeling comes for the lack of innate social skills so the brain has to "work" rather than just react. See Thinking, Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Good news is, with enough work even those who would qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis can practice social skill sets and learn to handle them intuitively (fast thinking) and to the degree we can do that-- note I include myself-- we won't be as drained.


To simply suggest that this is a high functioning form of Asperger's is a bit ridiculous. What if the person can let loose and be wild and crazy, love with tons of passion and affection, and connect on a deeper emotional level than most? You are over simplifying things here. I had social issues in highschool. I lacked confidence in myself and had some familial issues that deeply affected me. For a year, I ate my lunch in the hall way before my next class instead of in the cafeteria. Even in my twenties when I was a social butterfly, I got completely drained by certain kinds of social situations. I simply could not function at a high level.


I don't think J.M. is saying that Asperger's is the only way this might happen, just that it's A way. I'm sure that all manner of psychological issues could elicit a similar phenomenon, and if that's the etiology of it, then dealing with the issues will probably make it better. If it's more of an organic problem like Asperger's, then different therapy, like social skills training, would probably help.

#12 Logan

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:27 PM

Feeling drained after social interaction is a classic symptom of being on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum (Asperger's). We're still learning so much about the Spectrum but if I may theorize, we'll find having certain traits without enough to qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis will become quite common (increasingly so).

The drained feeling comes for the lack of innate social skills so the brain has to "work" rather than just react. See Thinking, Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Good news is, with enough work even those who would qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis can practice social skill sets and learn to handle them intuitively (fast thinking) and to the degree we can do that-- note I include myself-- we won't be as drained.


To simply suggest that this is a high functioning form of Asperger's is a bit ridiculous. What if the person can let loose and be wild and crazy, love with tons of passion and affection, and connect on a deeper emotional level than most? You are over simplifying things here. I had social issues in highschool. I lacked confidence in myself and had some familial issues that deeply affected me. For a year, I ate my lunch in the hall way before my next class instead of in the cafeteria. Even in my twenties when I was a social butterfly, I got completely drained by certain kinds of social situations. I simply could not function at a high level.


I don't think J.M. is saying that Asperger's is the only way this might happen, just that it's A way. I'm sure that all manner of psychological issues could elicit a similar phenomenon, and if that's the etiology of it, then dealing with the issues will probably make it better. If it's more of an organic problem like Asperger's, then different therapy, like social skills training, would probably help.


I actually don't think he was saying Asperger's is the only way either, but, he did appear to be suggesting Asperger's might be the most common. And if this is the case, I believe he is way off bass with this assumption.

#13 Junk Master

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:12 PM

What I'm really suggesting is we don't know enough about high functioning spectrum disorders yet NOT to see them as a continuum with "neurotypical" social behavioral issues.

I'm suggesting that as we do learn more, the spectrum can be a window a tremendous potential knowledge.

#14 umbillicaria

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 06:14 AM

Very thought provoking answers, thank you. But do we have any insight into the chemical mechanism?

Maybe I am a bit socially awkward but it's irrelevant. I am comfortable. My friends accept me. No anxiety over it. But eventually if I can't get time alone, I'll start having small "blackouts" of a second ir two and become unable to retain information. It's creepy! I can calmly watch it happen. There is a real limit independent of my emotional state.

Marti laney in her "introvert advantage" book claimed innies rely on a slow, circuitous acetylcholine pathway while outies rely on a fast dopamine dominated path. Sounds overly simplistic, though, right? Ive not found any empirical support for this claim. She says acetylcholine is slow to recharge, hence the innie need to retreat. She says reflection builds back those acetylcholine stores.

#15 niner

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 12:49 PM

Very thought provoking answers, thank you. But do we have any insight into the chemical mechanism?

Maybe I am a bit socially awkward but it's irrelevant. I am comfortable. My friends accept me. No anxiety over it. But eventually if I can't get time alone, I'll start having small "blackouts" of a second ir two and become unable to retain information. It's creepy! I can calmly watch it happen. There is a real limit independent of my emotional state.

Marti laney in her "introvert advantage" book claimed innies rely on a slow, circuitous acetylcholine pathway while outies rely on a fast dopamine dominated path. Sounds overly simplistic, though, right? Ive not found any empirical support for this claim. She says acetylcholine is slow to recharge, hence the innie need to retreat. She says reflection builds back those acetylcholine stores.


This is getting to be an interesting thread. My first thoughts were running toward anxiety, like Logan said. Now, reading this, I'm thinking that there is really something else going on here. Laney's explanation does sound overly simplistic. Not to say it couldn't be at least part of the explanation, but people are always coming up with half-baked theories in the psycho-bio field and publishing them in non-peer reviewed fora.

Junk Master's hypothesis that this condition is the kind of thing that would be common in Aspie's seems very plausible to me. My life is full of people (both relatives and friends) on the spectrum; I even have a touch of it myself. (It's an occupational hazard in the science/tech world. Einstein would today be diagnosed as 'on the spectrum', but I digress.) I have a pretty fair sense of the spectrum and its various comorbidities, at any rate.

The drained feeling comes for the lack of innate social skills so the brain has to "work" rather than just react. See Thinking, Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Good news is, with enough work even those who would qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis can practice social skill sets and learn to handle them intuitively (fast thinking) and to the degree we can do that-- note I include myself-- we won't be as drained.


And then there's this hypothesis:

''Eysenck proposed that extraversion was caused by variability in cortical arousal. He hypothesized that introverts are characterized by higher levels of activity than extraverts and so are chronically more cortically aroused than extraverts. The fact that extraverts require more external stimulation than introverts has been interpreted as evidence for this hypothesis. Other evidence of the "stimulation" hypothesis is that introverts salivate more than extraverts in response to a drop of lemon juice.[16]''

''Extraversion has been linked to higher sensitivity of the mesolimbic dopamine system to potentially rewarding stimuli.[17] This in part explains the high levels of positive affect found in extraverts, since they will more intensely feel the excitement of a potential reward.


The part about introverts being more cortically aroused might make what I'm about to say seem wrong, but the higher dopamine sensitivity of extraverts suggests that introverts just need a little more of everyone's favorite chemical- Dopamine. I wouldn't recommend that you break out the crack pipe, but some Ritalin, Adderal etc. might help out here.
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#16 nupi

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 01:27 PM

So how do I convince my shrink to prescribe me MPH? Last time round he said he would put me back on Wellbutrin but said for MPH I would have to get ADD testing which I consider to be a waste of my time (I might be ADD-PI which sounds a lot like the low end Autism Disorder spectrum anyhow but definitely not ADD-HA and I really doubt the tests are any good in this weird sub-type)

I also wonder whether there is any link between intro/extroversion and T levels?

Edited by nupi, 14 April 2012 - 01:27 PM.


#17 medievil

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 12:02 AM

You prob suffer from social anhedonia...pop some amp and add memantine.

#18 umbillicaria

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 02:16 AM

Gosh niner, you are on to something. Wellbutrin totally has doubled my longevity. It also reversed hypoglycemia (unexpected) and a lot of symptoms my doc wanted to throw the chronic fatigue diagnosis at. I guess I still am limited and want to function even better, though, now that the fog has cleared. Greedy but grateful. I can't help thinking cfs and being an innie (or an aspergi?) are connected.

I forgot to recognize junk masters insight about fatigue coming from having to "work harder." very true.

#19 Junk Master

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 03:58 AM

Let me just add that it is only as the result of having a high functioning Asperger's son (with a genius level IQ), that I've begun to realize I have many similar traits myself, albeit they are not as pronounced, and my IQ isn't as high ( as much as I hate to admit it...another topic of discussion).

As background, I've struggled with depression and sleeping disorders (sleep apnea, insomnia), as well as social anxiety, and infrequent panic attacks my whole life.

Only recently, after three plus years of cognitive behavioral therapy, and Pristiq, plus high doses of Piracetam, Uridine, and Methylene Blue (moderate) have I felt able "myself" intellectually; i.e able to focus long enough to complete projects.

Socially, I have been blessed with an understanding wife of 15 plus years, and largely because of my physical gifts (played football and baseball in college) have not been to total recluse-- but very well could have been because of the amount of energy it takes for me to interact in social situations.

I used to think I was hyper sensitive to social cues, thus the farthest thing from an "Aspie," though I've always had trouble looking people in the eye and engaging in extended conversations of a personal nature for extended periods of time. Now, looking back on my life, in the light of what I have learned raising my son, I realize just how much trouble I have had with social cues, and just how many I have missed.

I believe my situation is unique as I also have another "neurotypical" son, who is highly social, and I am a stay at home dad (I also write graphic novels, and screenplays, and an working on a novel.) So, I've been able to observe the amount of psychic "energy," for lack of a better quantifying term, involved in playing with friends for both of my sons.

I also should add that my boss is on the Spectrum, as is one of my best friends, and I've dealt with both on nearly a daily basis for over twenty years.

Love to see this thread continue as I believe many people here show signs of the hyperverbal precocity and obsessional thinking patterns that are, for me, the hallmarks of being on the Spectrum.
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#20 Junk Master

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 04:03 AM

BTW, I have little doubt umbillicaria is on the Spectrum.

#21 umbillicaria

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 06:39 AM

Junk master did you read the blog Ben posted the link to? Fascinating! The writer, a prof of theoretical medicine, intertwines discussion of the introversion scale and the autism scale but clearly defines them as separate dimensions of the personality. he is drawing on Eysenck's definition ( thanks, Now, i totally see wisdom in this) which suggests introversion is not necessarily about sociability--but rather about having a high level of internal arousal.

In a similar vein, You did inspire me to read up about the spectrum on Wikipedia, and the one thing I could not relate to was " lack of social-emotional reciprocity, and lack of shared enjoyment." I am pursuing these questions precisely because I want to be more present and available to the people I love. And socializing to me is so fun until you totally drain down the stores of whatever it is that allows you to interact.

The blogger guy says some Aspergers types should be classified As extroverts because they require high levels of external stimuli--it's just that social stimuli are not effective and thus arousal must be gained from other stuff like reading, video games, etc.

Junk, im so glad you found a supplement regime that works, btw. Having trouble looking people in the eye and missing social cues--I can relate! I think I miss a lot of things happening right under my nose. I do think that is because the internal dialogue is so fascinating (back to the high cortical arousal idea)--it's like being distracted. Always.

Edited by umbillicaria, 15 April 2012 - 07:05 AM.


#22 umbillicaria

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:10 AM

Another thought on the over arousal idea-- the continual inner dialogue leaves you with less attention to focus outwards and take in outside information/stimuli. Then relating to those stimuli that do make it in to your awareness can get bottlenecked because of the degree of processing and consultation with the inner dialogue that needs to happen in order to understand what is being said, decide how to respond, and craft that response. From that perspective an attention/energy expenditure outwards is especially expensive if its social. Getting bottlenecked feels like over stimulation. Too many things to track. Being slow or inarticulate in response (or even just the fear of that) can bring on the anxiety...which adds a whole new layer of internal discussion...and distraction. Gratefully as we age, it seems, people are more likely to be patient and likewise appreciate the thoughtfulness/quality of the response!

#23 nupi

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 10:44 AM

To simply suggest that this is a high functioning form of Asperger's is a bit ridiculous. What if the person can let loose and be wild and crazy, love with tons of passion and affection, and connect on a deeper emotional level than most?


Conversely, let's posit someone cannot do that (even with various commonly used drugs) plus an aversion to eye contact - time to go see an Autism specialist? I was always kind off compared to other kids but a genius level IQ (I never did a formal IQ test that I got results of but scored above the 99th percentile in my GMAT and was among that top 5% in a tier 1 business school) probably meant that nobody ever really bothered to figure out why - if you do not create any issues, why bother with you?

Interestingly, I do not think interaction with people in small groups drains me much (although it is very rare that I feel that I really do connect with someone), but large groups make me feel pretty off. Have long since stopped going to clubs etc...

Edited by nupi, 15 April 2012 - 10:48 AM.


#24 Junk Master

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 05:25 PM

Much to think about. I'm not surprised, of course, about the quality of the responses.

Another interesting variable is in both my case, and my son's, we can interact with both much younger groups (I coach sports), and older groups (Grandmother's nursing home) without feeling drained by the interaction. I don't have the same aversion to looking kids, or seniors in the eye.

Also, if I am speaking about a topic of interest, I have no social anxiety, but instead need to be aware to monitor cues that my audience is following, but when navigating social situations without structure i.e. small talk, introductions, talking about general life topics-- "nice weather, huh...how 'bout those Saints..." I'm depleted.

#25 nupi

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 06:01 PM

That is part of what constitutes my social anxiety. I am really bad at talking generic stuff to people I barely now - I can bullshit for hours with people I know (and trust, although I do have a slight tendency to maybe trust people a little too much after a while and share opinions that some might think are bit too extreme). To be perfectly honest, usual small talk bores the hell out of me. Even in bschool, were small talk initially was "where are you from, what did you do, what do you plan on doing afterwards" (and thus relatively structured) I got fed up with it in short order...

#26 Junk Master

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 03:51 AM

Just curious, are you a Monty Python fan?

#27 nupi

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 06:34 AM

I like the movies and some of the Flying Circus stuff, others is a little bit dated/strange...

#28 Junk Master

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 05:50 PM

True on how the other stuff is dated. Monty Python used to work pretty well as a diagnostic for those who got drained from typical, small talk, social interaction.

How are you able to handle exchanges with bank tellers, customer service, supermarket clerks? Just stick to the basics, or ever engage in banter? Do you often feel restless in line, restless with the mundane exchanges, even to the point of anxiety?

#29 nupi

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 07:27 PM

I never engage with any of them beyond what is absolutely required (usually I may even half ear plugs in one ear). It's not so much that small talk drains me heavily, it's just that I neither now what to say (while I definitely like snide remarks, I generally lack situational awareness to make more neutral comments) nor can find any interest to do so.


As for british comedy, if it helps, I loved Fawlty Towers and Coupling (likely THE funniest thing to ever make it on TV) but Mr Bean makes me cringe...

Edited by nupi, 17 April 2012 - 07:34 PM.


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#30 Junk Master

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 02:21 PM

Mr. Bean make me cringe as well!





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