Highly Sensitive Personalities

Highly Sensitive Personality (HSP)

If common everyday lights and sounds are overwhelming and stressful, or you wonder why you're overly emotional, you may have a highly sensitive personality (HSP). At Dr. Burwell Speaks, LLC, Crystal Burwell, PhD, LPC, CPCS, BC-TMH, helps you understand what it means to have a highly sensitive personality and how it affects your self-esteem, personal interactions, and daily success. You also learn the advantages of HSP and how to turn the stress into a positive force in your life. To schedule an appointment, call the office in Atlanta, Georgia, or book an appointment online today.

Highly Sensitive Personalities (HSP) Q & A

What is a highly sensitive personality (HSP)?

Having HSP means that you have a low tolerance for sensory stimulation, whether in the form of sounds, lights, smells, hunger, touch, or visual images.

HSP is not a physical or mental disorder. Rather, it's a genetic-based personality trait that causes you to experience information (sensory stimuli) differently. This has distinct advantages and disadvantages, depending on the circumstance and your ability to handle the sensory overload.

How is HSP different from sensory processing disorder?

The formal name for HSP, sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), is often confused with sensory processing disorder (SPD). However, SPD is a neurological disorder that interferes with the way your brain processes and responds to sensory information.

People with SPD may overreact or underreact to sensory stimuli. (HSPs don't underreact.) SPD can cause problems that don't occur with HSP, such as trouble with balance and coordination or being unable to recognize sensory information.

What are the signs of HSP?

HSPs share four defining qualities. Since each person is different, you may not experience all of the following examples, or you may have other reactions that aren't included here.

HSPs are:

Easily overstimulated

HSPs are easily stressed and overwhelmed by sensory input. You may burn out or shut down due to the total amount of incoming information. You could even feel like something is wrong with you because you can't handle daily activities like others.

Many HSPs avoid enjoyable activities because they can’t tolerate the stimulation. They often need to find a quiet space and get away from the sensory stress. 

However, some HSPs, called high sensation seekers, are the opposite. They seek out stimulating, exciting things to do, but then they need to isolate later to recharge their energy.

Emotionally responsive

If you have an HSP, you feel deep emotions and have strong empathy and a good sense of intuition. You often experience tears, laughter, joy, distress, and anger in response to things that others take in stride. For example, you can’t stand watching a TV show or movie containing violence.

Highly aware of subtleties

You notice small details and subtle changes that other people miss, such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. You may be highly aware of everyday sounds that others tune out (a ticking clock, the buzzing of fluorescent lights) and experience differences in tastes and smells that others can't discern.

Deeply thoughtful

HSPs tend to think more deeply, notice more, and make connections between many pieces of information that others overlook. You may take a long time to make decisions as you process all of the information. Chances are you think more about the world and have a sense of insight into daily events.

How is HSP treated?

HSP doesn't require treatment in the classic sense. Instead, your therapist focuses on teaching you about HSP and helping you understand how it affected you in the past and influences the present.

Your therapist explores ways to cope with your sensitivities and shows how to value your unique way of experiencing life.

To learn more about how to deal with being a highly sensitive personality, call Dr. Burwell Speaks, LLC, or book online today.