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Hyper-awareness, Exhaustion, Depression, Anxiety, ETC.

 
Posts: 22
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Hello Gentle Souls,
  I wanted to do a post on a subject I’ve been studying for the past couple weeks: something I came across while searching for answers regarding the long-term / chronic version of all that’s mentioned in the title of this post, (including chronic fatigue, chronic gastric problems, and chronic am-I-going-crazy.) Now before I get started I must assure everyone that I am a personally certified, self-educated, wanna-be-physician that graduated from the school of DIY and Youtube Univiserity just yesterday. I think that acknowledgment eliminates the need for a disclaimer.
  Getting straight to the point, apparently studies conducted within the past 20-30 years have revealed that about 1 in every 5 people, (20% of the population) have a genetic trait which causes them to experience life in a very acute way. (Note: this is not just introversion.) Emotions are stronger, empathy is higher, pain is more intense, sights and sounds are processed more deeply, criticism is taken more seriously, life in general is more overwhelming. This trait is the parent of a highly sensitive nervous system which, being more quickly overwhelmed/over-stimulated, has a tendency to cause stress and exhaustion more quickly, (ultimately leading to depression, anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems, etc.). The trait has advantages as well; it is a physical difference in the brain, and is not a disorder, syndrome, or inbalance. Those who possess the trait are called “highly sensitive persons,” aka “HSP’s”, and are generally known for being some or all of the following:
     Highly empathetic
     Highly intuitive regarding new people or situations
     Highly aware of subtleties within surroundings
     Detail oriented/ perfectionistic
     More sensitive to loud noises, strong smells, bright lights or course fabrics
     More stressed over time-sensitive projects
     More keenly affected by violent films and bad news
     More dependent on sleep
     More sensitive to criticism
     More sensitive to hunger and pain along with medication, caffeine, and alcohol
     Often reputed as shy, sensitive, solitary, over-reacting or over-emotional
     Creative, artistic, poetic or studious
     Etc.
  Other behaviors that point to this trait may include:
     A need to withdraw or “recover” after a busy day, after a party, or after changes made in one’s routine.
     An inability to successfully perform a task or take a test while competing or being observed.
     A tendency to absorb other people’s emotions
     A tendency to cry more than others
  To summarize, an HSP’s brain is highly sensitive to both interior and exterior stimulation. That stimulation is: 1. Noticed by the brain in greater detail and intensity; 2. Processed more deeply; 3. Processed for a longer period of time; 4. Responded to with greater energy / emotion.
  By now you have a general idea of what traits this…trait…involves. It has been identified in both introverted and extroverted persons, and remains un-acknowledged by the majority of physicians. This trait is not something a person learns or “picks-up”; it literally involves the physical components of a person’s brain. While it affects 3 different genes in the brain, it is not a disorder; it is considered a “neutral, normal trait.” That said, it is believed that, though the persons who possess the trait make-up the minority of the population, they tend to make-up the majority of patients seen by therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists. Why? Because compared to the other 80% of the world, they’re often looked upon as “abnormal”, “over-emotional”, and “hyper-sensitive”. They’re told to “toughen up”, “grow a spine”, and that, “it’s all in your head”. No wonder they’re stressed, depressed, anxious, and exhausted. Also, since it is literally harder for them to go through painful or upsetting ordeals, they often need more help than others in trying to cope.
  To conclude, I hope this is meaningful for some of you. if you’ve found this post interesting, you can learn more at https://hsperson.com/ or https://highlysensitiverefuge.com/ . Meanwhile, if you’re really fascinated, take the test at http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/
  Everyone has their personal ups and downs from time to time, everyone feels emotional and overwhelmed at some point in their life, but a few of us seem to have a knack for being stressed, depressed, and utterly exhausted. If this has helped even one person, it was absolutely worth posting.
 
master pollinator
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I have a lot of those traits/symptoms and was diagnosed manic-depressive (bipolar).  I have had both manic episodes and depressive episodes which were painful so I think it is an accurate diagnosis.  I take medication for depression and anxiety, but no mood stabilizer at this time.  It's possible in an ideal stress-free life I would not need medication but since in this world there is no such thing, I avail myself of the pharmaceutical help.

Folks who have the above traits/symptoms, if they damage your life, it is possible there is a disorder/illness.  If there is no significant pain or damage then there's not an illness, in my opinion.

The main difference I see between a sensitive personality and an illness is the sensitive person is reacting to stimuli whereas the ill person is feeling bad for "no reason."  I can get horribly depressed when nothing bad is happening (if not on medication), so that's not a personality trait, that's an illness.

I've been fortunate to have some of the creative spark thing of the manic episode, but no "mad genius", darn it. :/


I think avoiding stress as much as possible is vital for folks with illness of this type or sensitive personality.  My husband is very sensitive, more than I am, I think, and he is doing much better since our lives became less stressful when we closed our business.  
 
Marie Repara
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Folks who have the above traits/symptoms, if they damage your life, it is possible there is a disorder/illness.  If there is no significant pain or damage then there's not an illness, in my opinion.



Tyler, Thank you for pointing this out; the above information certainly does not discount the reality of disorders / illnesses. I'm reading a book on the subject now, and it does illustrate that disorders are not uncommon in combination with being highly sensitive; not that the two always go together. The book mentioned that, for those who do have the trait, many had a significant decrease in depression and anxiety once they identified and learned about their trait, while others continued to have major symptoms regardless.
This is a very personal subject for a lot of folks, and the only person who can really determine if this information applies to his/her-self is the individual him/her-self, (or some other specialist in the field, obviously.  ;-)
 
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Wow, Marie, this is fascinating!  I know someone who fits this description.  I want to look into this myself!
 
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My oldest son has this hyper sensitivity/processing issue. I’m not going to lie, it made for a very difficult parenting experience. The book that saved my sanity was “ Raising Your Spirited Child” byMary Sheedy Kurcinka. Even if you don’t have a kid with these issues it gives a lot of insight on the Problem. It’s not a problem but a processing issue but that is the convenient word that comes to mind.
 
pollinator
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Thank you so much for posting this.  I think my daughter may be hsp.  What you talk about and some of the links sound familiar.  I will show her this post and the links you provided, maybe it will help her.  It will be helpful for her to have support, and tools to help her validate her feeling and cope with them.  I have never even heard of this, so thank you so much.  As a mom it's a tough line to walk, because there are times I want to say oh come on!  But I have never liked for people to tell me how, or what "I" feel, so I have always tried very hard not to do that to my children.  Thanks again.
 
pollinator
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I guess I am more like Tyler in that I have a physical problem that causes all the issues you mention.

For me it is with a tumor upon my Pituitary Gland, and a cancerous Thyroid.

I could see where a person might confuse what I have with being highly sensitive, but I think with so many undiagnosed people with Endocrine Problems, that would be the majority for most. 85% of women have inactive thyroids and do not even know it. It is not as high for men, but it is over 50%. With Thyroid Cancer the fastest form of cancer, I think people would be better served to have an Endocrine Problem ruled out, then assume it is hypersensitivity.

I know with these issues it can often be, "oh what I have must be what you have", but that is not the case with my situation at all. When you figure over 3/4 of women, and over half of men are walking around with a problem and do not even know it, when I hear of these issues in people, I just want to yell "get tested". If I had not almost been killed in a logging accident, I would have never known I was slowly dying inside from cancer.
 
pollinator
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Marie Repara wrote:This trait is not something a person learns or “picks-up”; it literally involves the physical components of a person’s brain. While it affects 3 different genes in the brain, it is not a disorder; it is considered a “neutral, normal trait.” That said, it is believed that, though the persons who possess the trait make-up the minority of the population, they tend to make-up the majority of patients seen by therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists. Why? Because compared to the other 80% of the world, they’re often looked upon as “abnormal”, “over-emotional”, and “hyper-sensitive”. They’re told to “toughen up”, “grow a spine”, and that, “it’s all in your head”. No wonder they’re stressed, depressed, anxious, and exhausted. Also, since it is literally harder for them to go through painful or upsetting ordeals, they often need more help than others in trying to cope.
  To conclude, I hope this is meaningful for some of you. if you’ve found this post interesting, you can learn more at https://hsperson.com/ or https://highlysensitiverefuge.com/ . Meanwhile, if you’re really fascinated, take the test at http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/
  Everyone has their personal ups and downs from time to time, everyone feels emotional and overwhelmed at some point in their life, but a few of us seem to have a knack for being stressed, depressed, and utterly exhausted. If this has helped even one person, it was absolutely worth posting.



Thank you for posting this, Marie! Despite 1 in 5 being highly sensitive, this trait is not common knowledge. 

Is this the book you are reading?

https://www.amazon.com/Highly-Sensitive-Person-Elaine-Aron-ebook/dp/B00GT1YES8

I lived 30 years feeling different, out of place, weak, like something was wrong with me for not handling "normal" stuff as well as my peers could, until I read this book. Suddenly, my whole existence, my whole experience of the world finally made sense. 

I seriously encourage anyone who feels they may be highly sensitive or has a loved one they think may be highly sensitive to read the book. There is also "The Highly Sensitive Child" which focuses on raising sensitive children, I would especially recommend this book if your child is an HSP and you are not. 



Even if you are not highly sensitive, you might be interested to read some of the book or the blog Marie linked to. You may be surprised to find out that there are people living this highly sensitive life.

Being an HSP, sometimes called sensory processing sensitivity, means you have a fundamentally different experience of the world. Because this is how you've always experienced the world, it's not obvious that your experience is so much different from most or 80 percent of people. If you tried discussing your experience with your parents or your friends, maybe you were dismissed, told "that can't possibly be right", "you're being silly", or "no, I don't know what you are talking about". You might believe them and think there's nothing different about you that's measurable and you are just overreacting. Why can't you just handle everything like your friends do. You are weak. It's just a story, why are so so upset. No one else is crying. You are bad at controlling your emotions.

Constantly striving for and falling short of the cultural norm is one of the roads to depression that many HSPs travel. In this case, education about our highly sensitive trait and coping mechanisms along with cognitive behavioral therapy are often, not always!, a better fit than medication. It was for me. 

The acknowledgement and validation that came with the discovery of my HSP-ness was life changing. Took the test again for fun, scored 25! In general, 14 or above is highly sensitive (lower for men as stated under the quiz.) 
 
Marie Repara
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I could see where a person might confuse what I have with being highly sensitive, but I think with so many undiagnosed people with Endocrine Problems, that would be the majority for most. 85% of women have inactive thyroids and do not even know it. It is not as high for men, but it is over 50%. With Thyroid Cancer the fastest form of cancer, I think people would be better served to have an Endocrine Problem ruled out, then assume it is hypersensitivity.



  Travis, it is true that thyroid issues abound and many people are completely unaware of them. My immediate family has major thyroid issues and insisted that I get tested, (they were disappointed that mine was completely normal while I continued to have unexplained symptoms.) Likewise, not all thyroid tests are equal, (so I went for the ultimate get-absolutely-everything-tested test, and it still came back negative.) With that said, I still think ruling out all the actual problems is definitely important, like Travis said.
  Meanwhile, for those who have ruled out everything, unexplained symptoms are scary and almost maddening. The Doctor is convinced the patient is a hypochondriac, the family is tired of hearing the complaints, therefore the patient becomes convinced that he either 1. is a hypochondriac 2. is literally going insane 3. will never get out of the big black hole. And we don't want any o' that...  
 
Marie Repara
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Is this the book you are reading?



Amy, yes that would be the one. I've not read the one about children yet, or any other for that matter. Aside from the book, I've mostly just been sifting through articles and research papers online. I definitely wish I had heard about this sooner, but am I glad I stumbled across it when I did!
 
pollinator
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I'm resistant to categorizing. While I understand sometimes it can be helpful, I have seen it become a trap as well.

I prefer to treat everyone with empathy, instead of relying on others to "understand" me or me them.
 
pollinator
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this a great train of thought, i have also been thinking about related things for a while... i'm too tired to give you a proper response right now but i definitely have some thoughts to share later.
i have also explored some of what you are talking about - the physiological differences, and also ...adrenal burnout / PTSD (which at this moment of the whirl arent we all experiencing just a bit of PTSD from just living through this dark circus???!!??)...the gastric /*stomache is a second brain* thing naturopaths talks about /chronic fatigue.and even throwing in how does autism/Aspergers fit in, or does it?

but yeah i am definitely in this camp. sensitive, an empath and more than a bit psychic.
 
leila hamaya
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i think about the the things you are talking about here, and so much so that my brain is going in like 4 directions for what i can add here....but i will start at one of your main points i am getting, and that is the physical, the physiological and genetic differences you are writing about.

i think that Dabrowski was the first (or one of the first, in an official ish capacity anyway) to speak of the phenomena you are writing of, and did a lot of different tests to map out what he called overexcitability, and did comprehensive research in this space.

he did show that there were significant differences in the way the central nervous system processed stimulation, so that a certain percent of the population had extreme physiological responses to various stimuli. i definitely think, if you havent already come upon his work, you would enjoy digging in deeply to it...and his whole Theory of Positive Disintegration  --> TPD.
 
Marie Repara
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leila hamaya wrote:i think about the the things you are talking about here, and so much so that my brain is going in like 4 directions for what i can add here....but i will start at one of your main points i am getting, and that is the physical, the physiological and genetic differences you are writing about.

i think that Dabrowski was the first (or one of the first, in an official ish capacity anyway) to speak of the phenomena you are writing of, and did a lot of different tests to map out what he called overexcitability, and did comprehensive research in this space.

he did show that there were significant differences in the way the central nervous system processed stimulation, so that a certain percent of the population had extreme physiological responses to various stimuli. i definitely think, if you havent already come upon his work, you would enjoy digging in deeply to it...and his whole Theory of Positive Disintegration  --> TPD.



I just read this today and am looking into the link you provided. It looks very interesting, (it's expanding my vocabulary a bit, ha ha) and I will definitely be doing a bit research on it. Much obliged!
 
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