Connect with us


4 Signs You’re a ‘Highly Sensitive Person,’ According to Experts



I love cozy sweaters but the tiniest bit of wool can feel like sandpaper on my skin. The moment I hear ambulance sirens or loud music, my head starts spinning. Other people’s emotions and ~energies~ can also send me reeling. And I’m not the only one who’s so easily affected by their environment and the people in it: Search #highlysensitiveperson on TikTok and you’ll see a collection of videos with more than 62 million views, some of which show people crying or hiding under a pillow when life becomes too much.

The term “highly sensitive person” (HSP) was coined in 1997 by psychologist Elaine Aron, PhD, who (along with her fellow-psychologist husband Arthur Aron) developed a scale for measuring “sensory processing sensitivity” (SPS)—a personality trait characterized by “greater depth of processing, cognizance of subtleties in the environment, being easily overstimulated, having stronger emotional responses, and empathy to others’ affective cues.”

Research on this personality trait is limited overall—and, it’s important to note, not all mental health professionals subscribe to the label—but Dr. Aron’s findings have since inspired other psychologists to look into sensory sensitivity and the combination of genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to it. To be clear, SPS is not a disorder or a type of mental illness. It is, however, a very real experience for around 20% of people, according to a 2014 study co-authored by Dr. Aron, who identifies as an HSP herself.

“A highly sensitive person is someone whose nervous system is more affected by and more reactive to their environment,” Jadzia Jagiellowicz, PhD, a psychologist who researches high sensitivity and a contributing author to The Highly Sensitive Brain: Research, Assessment, and Treatment of Sensory Processing Sensitivity, tells SELF. Dr. Jagiellowicz, who studied under Dr. Aron, explains that HSPs also tend to be highly empathetic and feel both positive and negative emotions more intensely than people who don’t have this trait. In other words, if you identify with this personality type, that’s not a bad thing.

How do you know if you’re a “highly sensitive person”?

High sensitivity can be challenging to identify, Dr. Jagiellowicz says, partly because it shares similarities with some mental health issues. Anxiety, for example, can also cause people to have strong emotional reactions or need downtime to recover from a particularly social weekend. Trauma, too, can cause high emotional arousal and make people hyper-aware of their environment. And people with ADHD or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may also notice signs of sensory sensitivity. However, unlike clinical anxiety, ADHD, ASD, and post-traumatic stress disorder, you can’t be diagnosed with high sensitivity.

But if you consider yourself an HSP or think you might be in the club, there are some general criteria to look to. (Dr. Aron’s self-test is one place to start.) And regardless of whether you ultimately identify with the HSP label, noticing the ways in which you can be especially sensitive could help you develop self-care strategies to make daily life less overwhelming, according to the experts we talked to. Here are a few signs to consider:


1. You’re very aware of what’s happening in and around you.

HSPs “tend to be more reactive to” their environments, Dr. Jagiellowicz says, whether that’s their home, workplace, or the people around them. The key word here is overstimulation, she says—you don’t just notice whatever’s going on around you, but it easily overwhelms you. For example, you might immediately clock harsh lighting when you walk into a room and have trouble focusing on anything else because of it, or, in my case, a noisy and crowded morning commute may put you on high alert from the second you leave your house until you arrive at work, making you want to crawl back under your covers.

Source: Self

Follow us on Google News to get the latest Updates