A Characteristic Of Every Animal Hormone Is That The Hormone Highly Sensitive People and Depression: Overstimulation May Lead to Depression.

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Highly Sensitive People and Depression: Overstimulation May Lead to Depression.

Recent research by social psychologist Elaine Aron and her team describes a number of human characteristics she calls “high sensitivity.” Her research suggests that approximately 15-20% of humans (and animals for that matter) have evolved to be significantly more responsive to their environment. It’s not that these “highly sensitive people” (HSPs) are gifted with super-hearing or hyper-acute vision, but rather, they have nervous systems and minds that allow more stimulation to enter without automatically and systematically shutting it down. unconscious, and further. , that they then cognitively process the stimulation they receive in more detail than others.

What do we mean by “stimulation?”

Stimulation comes through all sensory channels: sights, sounds, smells, vibrations, touches.

HSPs typically respond strongly and quickly reach their natural tolerance level in loud, bright, or chaotic environments.

  • Managing this type of overstimulation can be treated as a “technical problem” of reducing environmental intensity or eliminating it when possible.

Five types of overstimulation that can contribute to depression

(1) Chronic environmental over-stimulation.

Unfortunately, “getting away” from an overly stimulating environment is not always possible.

  • A sensitive child may not leave a busy classroom…
  • A worker may not always have the luxury of walking away from an intolerable workplace…
  • A loving and sensitive mother cannot abandon her children when they are “overstimulated.”

Animal models have shown that when a creature comes to believe that it is unable to escape a distressing environment, it develops feelings of “learned helplessness” and becomes hopeless and depressed (Seligman, 1967).

Overstimulation is an unpleasant, aversive experience for everyone.

HSPs who are chronically over-stimulated and feel unable to exert control over their environment may be at higher risk for developing feelings of helplessness, hopelessness…and subsequently depression. .

(2) Internal bodily stimulation

HSPs are intimately connected to information and signals from their bodies. The internal sensations of hunger, thirst, overheating, physical fatigue, insufficient rest… are all very convincing and visible to them. As a result, HSPs sometimes become overly concerned about their own health or infirmity and may make urgent demands on their environment for attention or support.

This heightened awareness of their human vulnerability can contribute to feelings of anxiety and a sense of vulnerability, which in turn contributes to increased feelings of depression.

(3) A rich and stimulating inner life.

Another set of stimuli arises in the form of fantasies, dreams, and inner reflections…all those anxious, critical, or magical thoughts that circulate in the background of our ordinary conscious thinking are more easily accessible, more reliable and interesting to most. HSPs.

This detailed recognition of anxiety-producing possibilities is undertaken in order to anticipate and avoid potential problems… but it can easily become overwhelming and contribute to feelings of fragility and inadequacy and lead back to helpless and hopeless depression. .

(4) Interpersonal overstimulation

Other human beings are very stimulating to be around!

All human beings constantly signal their emotional state to each other through tone of voice, posture, gestures, and eye contact. It is a natural human ability to respond empathetically to these signals… to understand and “feel together” with those around us.

HSPs with their porous stimulus barriers and detailed cognitive processing are skilled readers of conscious and unconscious interpersonal cues. As a result, they are often caught unawares and caught up in the emotional states of those around them…or even the plight of people on the news or in fictional appearances. They can experience these resonances very strongly.

If an HSP lives 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

Since HSPs are so attuned to their bodies, they notice the physical changes that occur in response to very low levels of environmental pollutants or very low doses of medication.

Side effects which may be minor in others may be very pronounced in sensitive individuals.

Some medicines can have depression as a side effect:

  • Medicines for high blood pressure and cholesterol can sometimes cause symptoms of depression, as can some medicines for heart disease, because these medicines affect the brain as well as the rest of the body.
  • Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement medications can also affect mood.
  • Anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers that aim to reduce anxiety also carry the risk of depression as a side effect.
  • Strong prescription acne medications are known to cause depression in some individuals.

A vicious circle…

The intersection of these factors can create a “perfect storm” for some HSPs. Sensitivity to their responses leads to feelings of vulnerability, which in turn convinces the individual that they cannot change or influence their environment. Disturbed cognition also contributes to the feeling of helplessness, hopelessness that leads to depression. Contamination from the depression or anxiety of others around them can add to their gloomy appearance

Feeling empowered helps…

Fortunately, studies have also suggested that empathy works both ways. Sensitive individuals are also particularly able to enjoy pleasurable stimulation and benefit greatly from the love, support and interest of those around them.

HSPs often benefit quickly from psychotherapeutic support that helps them reframe their experience toward an equally detailed but more positive and empowered perspective of themselves, their abilities, and their potential to control their environment in effective way.

Hypersensitivity is part of the normal spectrum of human response. He brings the gifts of perception, intuition, conscience and empathy for others… qualities that are of inestimable value to human society. Undiagnosed and untreated depression in HSPs robs us all of the benefits of their special gifts.

If you or someone you care about is highly sensitive and struggling with depression, it may be time to act … to seek help and support.

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