Overwhelm Caused By A Sensitive Nature

As a Highly Sensitive I have learnt to recognise my signs of impending overwhelm and what I need to do to bring myself back to a place of calm.  I have experienced the very lows and highs associated with my nature, along with anxiety and even the feelings of depression at times that are associated with overstimulation and the nature in general.

I can still remember the day when I identified with the Highly Sensitive nature, my life suddenly made sense – I understood why I had felt and acted the way that I had done all my life.  Not everyone has this light bulb moment; for some, it takes a little longer to understand and accept their nature, we all become aware in our own time. I have been on a journey of self-discovery for many years and I know that that will continue for the rest of my life. I will do this not just for myself but also my work.

There are varying degrees of sensitivity and my sensitivity extends beyond the HSP nature. Because of this, I tend to attract many sensitive people searching for help from someone who is able to relate to them.  Using counselling and coaching I support them to work with their nature rather than inadvertently going against it, consequently feeling calmer in their life and more at peace with themselves.  Sometimes this type of work may fall into mentoring as not everyone wants or needs counselling; within this, I will also include energy work to assist with the reduction of resulting symptoms.

Below is an abridged article written by Dr Elaine Aron about the Highly Sensitive Person.

Highly Sensitive Person (HSPs) and Depression: Overstimulation May Lead to Depression

15-20% of humans, Inc. animals, have evolved to be markedly more responsive to their environment.  HSPs have nervous systems and minds which permit more stimulation to enter without automatically and unconsciously shutting it out.

High sensitivity bears gifts of perceptiveness, intuition, conscientiousness and empathy for others… qualities which are of inestimable value to human society. However, there can be a downside.

What do we mean by “stimulation?

Stimulation comes in on all sensory channels: sights, sounds, smells, vibrations, touch. HSP’s typically respond strongly and quickly reach their natural level of tolerance in loud, bright or chaotic environments.

Five kinds of over-stimulation which can contribute to depression

(1) Chronic environmental overstimulation.

HSPs that are chronically over-stimulated and feel incapable of exercising control over their environment may be at higher risk for developing feelings of helplessness, hopelessness.

(2) Internal bodily stimulation

HSPs are closely tuned in to information and signals from their bodies. Internal sensations of hunger, thirst, over-heating, physical tiredness, insufficient rest; all can produce a strong reaction in an HSP.  As a result, HSP’s sometimes become overly concerned about their health and experience anxiety and a sense of vulnerability.

(3) A rich and stimulating inner life.

Another set of stimuli arises in the form of fantasies, dreams and internal reflections. Whilst interesting to an HSP they can become overwhelmed, feel a sense of fragility and inadequacy.

(4) Interpersonal over-stimulation

Other human beings are highly stimulating to be around!  All human beings are constantly signalling their emotional states to one another through tone of voice, posture, gestures and eye contact. As a result, an HSP is often unknowingly buffeted and captured by the emotional states of those around them. This includes the news. If an HSP is living closely with a depressed or mentally ill person or in a depressing environment, they may find it very difficult not to become depressed themselves.

(5) Chemically related depressive responses

Being very attuned to their bodies, HSP’s notice physical changes that occur due to very low levels of environmental contaminants or very low doses of medications.

A vicious circle…

Sensitivity to their own responses leads to feelings of fragility which in turn convince the individual that they cannot change or influence their environment.  Anxious thoughts also contribute to the feeling of helpless, hopelessness that leads to depression.

Feeling empowered helps…  Fortunately, studies have also suggested that sensitivity works both ways.  Sensitive individuals are also particularly able to enjoy pleasurable stimulation, and benefit powerfully from the love, support and interest of those around them.

HSPs often benefit quickly from psychotherapeutic support which helps them re-frame their experience towards an equally detailed but more positive and empowered perspective on themselves, their capabilities and their potential to control their environment effectively.

Unexplored and untreated depression in HSPs robs us all of the benefits of their special gifts.

If you’re looking to find out more about holistic counselling services; contact me on 07503 461838 to see how I may be able to help you.