Hypersensitivity is something that can difficult to describe, it might be that you suddenly feel very aware of yourself or your surroundings, it might be that you’re particularly sensitive to bright lights or sharp, loud noises, it might be that you simply feel more jumpy than usual – there’s tons of possibilities and it is something that has been linked quite closely with anxiety.
As with a lot of physical symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. The stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline are released and this puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze.
Why Does Anxiety Cause Hypersensitivity?
There’s a few reasons why anxiety can cause hypersensitivity but mostly it’s to do with our body’s reaction to the fight, flight or freeze response. When this response is activated, our entire body becomes hyper aware of itself and its surroundings. This is because our body’s stopped any non-essential processes and is wholly consumed by the need to survive and seek out perceived threats, hence the heightened senses.
So, if we’re in this state of hyperstimulation and suddenly there’s a loud noise, or a sudden movement, we’re going to be a lot more alert to it, making us seem jumpy. The problem with being hypersensitive and hyperstimulated is that once the perceived threat has disappeared, it takes the body time to return to homeostasis, or it’s natural balanced state, so we can feel completely drained of energy by the time we level out.
How Can I Stop This System?
As this symptom stems from our fight, flight or freeze response and accompanying physical symptoms, the main thing that we can do to combat it is to focus on our breathing. This should calm our central nervous system, distract our mind from the perceived threat, and begin to realign our heart rate and breathing to homeostasis, our natural balanced state.
Of course, in order to prevent the symptoms of anxiety occurring in the first place, you need to manage or build strategies to tackle your anxiety. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.