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April 7th, 2010
12:59 PM ET

Ultra-sensitive? It's in your brain

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

If you are particularly sensitive to the world around you - whether it's music, caffeine, other people's emotions, you may have a personality trait called "sensory processing sensitivity."

People who are highly sensitive in this way tend to look and observe and process things deeply, as opposed to boldly going ahead, says Elaine Aron, professor of psychology at Stony Brook University, who helped pioneer research on the subject in the 1990s. Having vivid dreams and being aware of subtleties in your environment are also characteristic of this temperament, she said. Take this quiz to see if this fits you.

Now, Aron's group has shown evidence in the brain that these people are more detail-oriented. The study is published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at the brains of 18 participants. They found that people with sensory processing sensitivity tended to have more brain activity in the high-order visual processing regions, and in the right cerebellum, when detecting minor details of photographs presented to them.

"They are better at noticing subtle details in their environments than people without the trait," said Jadzia Jagiellowicz, lead author and doctoral candidate in the department of psychology at Stony Brook University.

Sensory processing sensitivity has been associated with introversion, but only loosely - about 30 percent of highly sensitive people are extroverts, Aron said.

Highly sensitive people probably make good counselors and recruiters, said Jagiellowicz, because of their attention to detail. They are able to more deeply process details as well as emotions, which are good skills in these professions. Accounting, which requires taking in a lot of information at once, may also be a relevant field, she said.

But the study showed that highly sensitive people do not quickly take in these details; in fact, they spend more time looking at them, so a job that requires a quick assessment of minutiae may not be the best fit, she said.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Kalifornian

    Took the test, and checked 26 boxes. I have always been this way, and I have been put down throughout my life as shy, insecure, fussy - even spoiled. I cannot tolerate violent films. I am claustrophobic only when the enclosed space includes other people. I have had panic attacks in very crowded situations. I am talented in the visual arts. I get lost in music, and I can feel my body release endorphins when I am at a live performance of some classical works. Most people smell bad to me. It all fits. And yes, Theresa Oh, I suffer from "complicated migraine," which includes extreme sensitivity to light, smell, and sound; visual changes (auras), nausea and vomiting. I have to shut myself off in a dark room - sensory deprivation - to recover. When there are too many people talking at me and around me, I have an urge to run away. I have a hard time shopping in department stores because there are too many things to look at and my eyes lose the ability to focus. I get dizzy.

    It is not easy to thrive in this loud and chaotic world when you are like me. You would think that being perceptive as to the motives and emotions of others would be a benefit socially, for instance, but I don't do well in social situations because I can see through the BS people send out, and I don't "play the game" well. I don't trust the intentions of others, and I am easily hurt . After being raised to believe that the way I am is wrong and that I needed to "improve" myself, I got into the wrong career in an effort to be someone else. I didn't do well, no surprise. I wish that this kind of research had been available when I was young and hadn't fully absorbed the notion (received with mother's milk) that I 'm some sort of freak. I have reached mid-life with the overwhelming feeling of having been thwarted. Parents, if you have a child who seems to carry the SPS trait, tread carefully. Think twice before you send him or her to those extracurricular programs designed to make children more assertive leaders, and blah, blah. You might do better to treasure who your child is than try to change him or her. The world needs all kinds of people, not just class presidents and team captains.

    April 8, 2010 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lifeofpireader

      I scored very high on this and I have always been extremely sensitive and was born three month early so I am not only mentally sensitive but physically as well I really enjoyed researching as it answered some personal questions I had about myself ando enjoyed this and I replied to you because I am just glad to know ere are other people like me and I often find myself wanting to get away from loud rooms and crowded ones which is pretty hard because I am still in school

      March 17, 2013 at 23:37 | Report abuse |
  2. Luis Diaz

    I took this test a few weeks ago when a friend and I were discussing how sensitive we both are. It's funny how it made her feel less alone about finding out she's like this. As for me I didn't care to know because I already knew. I just want other people around me to realize that this is who I am and somehow try to understand though if you aren't ultra-sensitive how would you explain this? I am an artist and many things stick in my head for a long time. Ex. Something wrong I may have said, an awkward moment with someone, a rejection...etc. Most days I wish I weren't this way, but I think it's important for some of us to be this way in the world. It's just that the world around us is not built by those like us.

    April 8, 2010 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Chuck Coleman

    High sensitivity to sensory stimuli is an aspect of Sensory Processing Disorrder (SPD). SPD is associated with autism. These are all neurologically based.

    April 8, 2010 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ada Boone Hoerl

    For those looking for beneficial strategies, occupational therapy offers ways to modulate these responses. (Occupation refers to our valued daily life activities and roles – it has nothing to do with getting a job, which is VOcational rehab.) The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation (http://www.spdfoundation.net/) has many resources. Also, you might like the books "Living Sensationally: Understanding Your Senses" by Winnie Dunn, and "Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World" by Sharon Heller You can find out more about occupational therapy at the American Occupational Therapy Association (www.aota.org).

    April 8, 2010 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Annie

      I disagree that high sensitivity should be classified as a disorder in that usually hsps can function in the "regular" world. the difference is that functioning in the regular world is very draining to the hsp because he or she reaches an overstimulated point much sooner than non hsps. Being overstimulated much of the time can lead to physical and mental disorders/ disease. Plus the sensitivity also makes that person sensitive to their internal environment and thoughts, which is another source of stimulation. It is only causes disorder if the person cannot limit exposure to overstimulation when needed. People don't understand what it's like to have a lower than average sensory threshold. Is that a disorder?

      May 29, 2013 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
  5. Beth, OR

    I am quite certain I do not have ADHD, and I am definitely sensitive in this manner. I am very shy, nonconfrontational, and have an anxiety disorder. I can't go to the grocery store during regular hours, I have to go after midnight because the daytime crowds are overwhelming. I believe a great deal of my anxiety is due to this condition; I can pick up on the subtleties a person puts out and tell what they think or feel, and coupled with shyness and a fear of "rocking the boat" I get very anxious about making people uncomfortable, and I worry what people think of me. However, I have no troubles paying attention or accomplishing tasks. My sister is ADHD, and I am very aware of how different we are. She is also most certainly NOT highly sensitive.

    It's always so nice to meet another person that is sensitive the way I am, it helps me connect with them and reminds me that I am not alone.

    April 8, 2010 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Joan

    I am one of these after diagnosing myself a long time ago with Aron's book. Now I know why I am exhausted all the time. HA! The biggest problem I see, (besides being overwhelmed – sometimes to the point of feeling very drunk), is that because you process subtleties and emotions of others, many times you know the other person better than they know themselves. This causes all sorts of conflicts, especially if the person wants to stay in a state of denial.

    Being highly sensitive is both a blessing and a curse. You feel like you are looking in at a different world than everyone else.

    And for the debate about spiritual/psychogicial/neurological, I believe they are all intertwined in a back and foth "dialogue." I know, as I used to be so sensitive to the point of needing anxiety meds. Now I can control it without meds because I developed my spirituality and coping skills...yes, I changed my brain chemistry...all on my own.

    April 8, 2010 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Todd

      How did you do this, Joan?

      January 3, 2011 at 03:09 | Report abuse |
  7. Patricia

    I've been as this article describes since I was a small child. I remember that someone could look at me with a certain look and I would begin to cry for absolutely no reason other than the expression and eyes–this went on until I was ten or so.

    I have continued to feel this way as an adult and would be hyper-sensitive to situations and others' feelings to almost ridiculous degrees. Unfortunately, people feel free to take advantage of it. I've had to leave relationships because others would take advantage of this nature–I lend money, give things away, invite people to stay at my home indefinitely if I felt they were on hard times, even if it was a very bad idea–I could not say no for the feelings I felt for their situation! I find myself consumed with worry and empathy at others' pain and I have a difficult time designating that other, outside stress is not MY stress. (Things improved several years ago when I met my husband, who helps me to say NO to attempts to take advantage of my nature, bless him.) I am an editor, which of course is a job where one must pay attention to details. How interesting!

    @Jim Hohn: I tend to agree with you regarding your thoughts that alcoholism may be linked to this sensitivity, as well as self-medication with drugs. When one is hyper-sensitive to the world around them, it's difficult to manage, thus the wish to be numb to it. Indeed, in this very discussion someone wished for a drug that would stop such hyper-sensitivity!

    April 8, 2010 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Vary

    @jake: Two things that studies have shown help in coping with these issues every day (I've had success with both as well): the first, daily rigorous exercise, has shown to help "tone down" the sensitivity to stimuli in studies of sensory defensive adults at Temple University; the second, setting up a "sensory diet," in which you allow yourself a block of time during the day to decompress, especially on days when you know you have to do something overstimulating. You can use that time for sensory deprivation, or to replace it with calming stimuli, like rocking in a chair. Allowing yourself that decompression time can help reduce the "meltdowns" that can occur after long bouts of overwhelming stimuli.

    April 8, 2010 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Vary

    @teresa– Since hypersensitivity to one or more stimuli seems to follow the cortical depression wave in the majority of migraineurs, it would be interesting to see how many very sensitive people also suffer migraine, with and without aura. My husband and I have talked about this many times and we speculate that my sensitivity probably stems from the same sources as my migraine activity. I'm sure there must be overlap.

    April 8, 2010 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. super unsensitive

    I'm skeptical. The questions on the self test seemed to be mostly things like "do you get stressed when too much is going on?" and "are you bothered by loud noises and confrontation". I scored as "highly sensitive" and frankly, I'm one of the less sensitive people I know.
    There are people who are more & less sensitive to their surroundings, but the 'test' seemed less like a diagnosis and more like "justify your pre-concieved notions about yourself". EVERYONE thinks they have a "rich internal life", just like every angst-filled teenager thinks they're really deep. EVERYONE notices things that others do not. Alas, EVERYONE has to do things that make them uncomfortable.

    April 8, 2010 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. sally, ca

    teresa, oh – i too would be interested to see if/how this would correlate with migraine tendencies. i scored rather high on the quiz, 25, and have been working with my doctor to regulate debilitating migraines since the age of 15. I'm about to turn 30 and we're still trying to get the right balance of lifestyle and prevention going to tone them down. To get to the root of it and make them nonexistent would be a dream for people like me!

    April 8, 2010 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. anne-marie

    I am highly sensitive but I wasn't always this way. I became more this way after I traveled the world and really started to do a lot of yoga and meditation. I don't think this is something you are born with, because I only became very sensitive in the last few years after doing traveling and yoga.

    April 8, 2010 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Kent

    I am this way and women hate it... sure they can be good friends but I'm tired of being this way. Makes me feel weak and slow.

    April 8, 2010 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. David B.

    This also describes me perfectly. As so many HSPs (highly sensitive persons) know, it's often more of a curse than a blessing. It's resulted in my quitting a number of jobs, where I felt like a "stranger in a strange land," where co-workers and the boss (of course) has little or no sensitivity. I still can't watch "The Office" on TV.

    April 8, 2010 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Daniel

    I have suffered from this all my life. I scored a 22 on your test. I already had decided that it was part of my genetic profile. I happened upon a book not long ago titled"Highly Sensitive People" by Elaine Aron, which kind of helped me put a name to it rather than just being oversensitive. If I walk into a room of people, I don't see things around me. My mind starts instantly interpreting people moods. I'm very good a reading people by an expression on their face, the intonation in their voice, their body language, etc. I get my feelings hurt very easily. I am an extreme introvert and have been diagnosed with major depression, anxiety disorder, intrusive thoughts and adult attention deficit. Have there been any studies looking at hypersensitivity with these disorders. They have to all be interconnected. I know it's in the mind but it does have a huge negative impact on one's spirit. I read a few of the comments on this article. Those that don't suffer from this are pretty negative about the whole subject. Just like what I encounter daily with people I have to interact with. Sometimes I at get very angry at their negativity. After 62 years of it, why wouldn't I?

    April 9, 2010 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Todd

      Just came across your comment. I, too, have been diagnosed with all that you have and am also highly sensitive. It is a hard thing to live with. It seems to get harder as one gets older. I have recently been trying to come to terms with what it means and how I may go forward from here. For now, I am quite confused.

      January 3, 2011 at 03:02 | Report abuse |
  16. Will McMahon

    The biggest problem with the world today is that nice people stay quiet while obnoxious, "confident" people push them around. If you are a nice, good, "sensitve" person, wake up tomorrow and be proud of it. Tell the world your story. Speak! I know this is easier said than done, but nothing in life is easy. It is sad that the only people that are heard are people that don't care about anything. If you care, you shouldn't look inside yourself, you should try to change OTHER people's minds.

    April 9, 2010 at 01:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Em

    This is amazing research and it explains why we think differently. But I agree that it can be a detriment as well as a blessing. I appreciate my ability to see some detail, but it is hard to explain to others why I notice odd things and often want to spend time away from the rest of the busy world.

    April 9, 2010 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. FlyBob

    I feel lucky to be able to help others with their "issues", etc...but I do feel the backlash of overwhelm, and there is also the possibility that all this emotional is simply a mechanism we use to avoid our own dysfunctions. My biggest danger area is Animals. Domesticated and wild, food stocks, etc.. It's like I feel all the emotion of their sufferings and I have to curse mankind for manipulating these innocent, instinctive animals to his own devices, then treating them like shit, or worse, making them compete and fight for entertainment. Presumptively disgusting,dishonorable, and demonic. I will be glad to be shut of this world just so I wont have to hear about it. Before you criticize me, I do lots of charity work with animals, including rescue, boarding, walking for the elderly with pets, anything to try to assuage my/their pain and suffering. Still, after recovering dead cats and dogs from the roadways to save them the final indignity of flattening neglect, I feel I cant do enough. How do some people sleep at night?

    April 9, 2010 at 03:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Blair

      I feel exactly the same way as you do. I cannot comprehend why so many feel the entitlement to torture innocent animals. It hurts me everyday, everyday I dwell on waking up and knowing that so many have no regard for animal life. I am so angry inside, I feel like a prisoner-I have such empathy and it burdens me. I want to be in a room where at least one person says no to the torture bacon, I am always alone when it comes to this subject. Humanity is one big consumer, Everyday, never ending apathy. Please e/mail me and help me through this, I understand you and I need people like you in my life.

      August 6, 2010 at 02:55 | Report abuse |
  19. John

    You think too much. You're too analytical. You're too sensitive. You worry too much. You need to loosen up. You look nervous. You're detail oriented. Etc.

    I've been told that all my life. Everytime I bring up an article i read on the net, my friends tell me I read too much or think too much. My mind is always thinking about something I read, trying to figure out what it means. I'm not good at small talk because my mind is usually somewhere else and not on the people in the room. I think some people misinterpret this as being rude, but it's just who I am. I'm not trying to be rude, and I genuinely want to be a positive influence, but I've just never been good at communication effectively with others.

    I think that what this article is missing is a critical evaluation. For example, what are the disadvantages of being highly sensitive? In life, with few exception, almost everything comes with a price.

    April 9, 2010 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. momu

    Very interesting!
    Not much for the findings, but for actually seing worded feelings that i always wonder if they were normal or not.
    As a child I remember always feeling bad for loosing teams and hardly empathise with the joy of the winners, and still do. Growing older, I constantly find myself worrying more for other people than for me, putting other people's hapiness before mine.
    No long ago I was thinking how some people can easily ignore others' feelings and how easy life would be for me if i could do that.
    Also, I always enjoyed being on my own without any feelings of loneliness.

    April 9, 2010 at 05:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Todd

    @Sheila The Brain and the Spirit are very closely intertwined.

    April 9, 2010 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Lou F

    I suffer from Sleep Apnea & Depression add this to Being Highly Sensitive & what do i get? Emotional PAIN....I'm scared of just about everything, I know what your thinking & know too much about everybody & everything around me and i consider this a "Curse" because it has stopped me from being considered normal by others to the point where Crazy,Unbalanced,Weird,Antisocial & even Homosexual has been attached to my persona because of it....Can somebody please help me overcome or cure this it's about to destroy my Marriage, my Self Worth (what little is left) and my SANITY,. Please Help me understand & correct this?

    April 9, 2010 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. chris

    Boy, have you hit the nail on the head when describing my husband. He is now retired and I see more of these characteristics coming out. He was driving me crazy, but after reading this article I now have more empathy for him. It will change my whole view on why he does what he does. He actually looks cuter now.

    April 9, 2010 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jennifer

    This article helped to identify and explain a huge part of my personality that has caused me to always feel unique. I am glad to know others have this trait as well, but not surprised. I believe Sensory Processing Sensitivity is a special characteristic of symptoms found in EFD, commonly known as ADHD- inattentive type. For better or for worse, feeling is a good thing as long as it is channeled properly.

    April 9, 2010 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. trobbins

    Has it occurred to anyone that this "condition" might be normal? Perhaps everyone else's sensitivity has been dulled by who knows what. Maybe it's some of the thousands of chemicals we're exposed to every day. Maybe it's just human nature to suppress our sensitivity to the world around us because it has become intolerable. I am 58 and I've had 58 years of people criticizing me and others like me for being different. I am learning to keep what I see and feel to myself. What a shame to have to do this, but most folks just can't face the truth of the world. I'm so tired of people who think they are better than others -thanks Jack – "nut case". Elaine Aron, please keep up the good work. I love learning about brain research, it has rectified many wrongs throughout history: epilepsy; depression; Alzheimer’s and many others. My father told me when I was a teenager having "mental" issues that one day researchers would find that All mental "problems" are actually physiological in nature. I think he was right.

    April 9, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Chris

    Empathic people are the root of all problems. Please stop mating.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Rita

    I guess we will always try to categorize, classify, and label as long as we are human, in our quest for deeper understanding. And I do believe that many of our characteristics are biological and genetic. As some bloggers have noted, though, we must remember that as humans we are spiritual and fluid, ever-changing creatures and as much as science wants to pinpoint things with analysis and clarity, that is not always possible.

    I scored 18 on the quiz, at 42 years old. As a child, and a teenager, I doubt I would have checked off more than 5. My "sensitivity" developed and consistently intensified in adulthood, as I moved through the years and my often difficult experiences. So it is a case of which came first: the chicken or the egg? Did I have/create the life experiences I had, and respond to them the way I did, because I am "sensitive?" Or did I develop a certain sensitivity, characterized mostly by intolerance, as a side-effect of my battle-weary responses to the lashings of life?

    April 9, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. mike

    Is there ANYONE here who doesn't have sensory processing sensitivity???????

    You should take the quiz on narcissism!

    April 10, 2010 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Patricia

    @Chris: There is room in the world for many sorts of people. Would you rather be told your child is terminally ill by someone who has empathy for your situation, stays with you and your family while you're in shock and crying, spends her time, exhausted, after a 24 hour shift to answer your questions about your child's illness and explain to you what your options are for everything from experimental treatments to hospice organizations, all because the doctor had empathy for your situation?

    Or would you rather have a physician that walks into the waiting room, tells you your child has a long, almost unpronounceable illness, and then leaves the room?

    It could be just as simple as you're lost in a city you don't know and you're confused. Many strangers pass you by, but one person sees you and thinks "Boy, when I was in , I was so confused, I didn't know where I was in the city and felt panic and confusion, and was late for my meeting..." and stops to help you because they empathize with your situation.

    April 11, 2010 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Kathy

    I do not have it with me but I have read about a new spray that will make males as sensitive as women. If so we need to mass market it and use it on ALL the males!

    May 8, 2010 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Kathy

    German researchers may have found a way to make men more sensitive by spraying them with the "cuddle hormone," according to a new study.

    The study, published by the University of Bonn in the Journal of Neuroscience, reports that scientists created a spray using the hormone oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as the "love" or "cuddle hormone."

    After spraying it into the noses of 24 men, they showed them photos of a crying child, a girl hugging her cat and a grieving man and compared their reactions to men who were not given the hormone.

    http://www.aolhealth.com/2010/04/30/study-love-hormone-spray-makes-men-as-sensitive-as-women

    If we can mass market this we can at least help the males to catch up to women in one of the areas women are superior in. One down but so many more to go.

    May 9, 2010 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      You might find it interesting, Kathy, that Elaine Aron's research shows HSP (or SPS) is pretty evenly divided among females and males. What differentiates things, in large part, is heavy cultural male conditioning. (As a middle-aged man, I've been through a lot of it!) Men, taken individually, can be just as sensitive and empathic, but those traits are highly disfavored on a societal level, so men–and this applied to me for my first few decades–learn to try to suppress them.

      May 21, 2013 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
  32. Sheila

    After I read Aron's book I realized it wasn't early alzheimers, it was sensitivity! I wish her next book would deal with "retired" HSP's cause its beginning to cause all sorts of problems that I dealt with easily when I was working–there are more personal expectations from friends and society than before and just saying "no" can make you a pariah! cause after all you have LOTS of time. Yes, time I want to spend alone with my books, my camera and my dogs!!

    May 16, 2010 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Jenna Forrest

    When I learned that there was not much information about the daily life and thoughts of a sensitive person out there, I published Help Is On Its Way – A Memoir About Growing Up Sensitive (available on Amazon) to help validate the thoughts, tendencies, and feelings of sensitive adults and/or sensitive kids.

    Once the trait is effectively validated, the HSP may choose to begin raising his or her level of consciousness. This can offer relief of suffering and allows for many other benefits, such as preserving, empowering and maximizing the intended design of the trait - to transmute pain (that absorbed from others and from history as well as one's own) and to ultimately prepare oneself to radiate a higher form of Love as life is lived out.

    This has been my journey.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Gary

    I have several of the sensitivities listed in the questionaire, but only rate as a borderline HSP. However, my fiance is a true ESP. I have a few questions:
    1. It would seem that many of the stimuli, if left unchecked, would lead to increased stress and anxiety, with a corresponding decrease in overall health. Do HSP's have a higher incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke?
    1. Is it possible to mitigate some of the sensitivities through training, meditation, therapy, hypnosis, or sheer force of will?
    2. Do HSP's experience more frequent and severe mood swings?
    3. Is there a correlation between level of sensitivity and certain hormonal changes in the body?
    4. What are the best things I can do to support her?

    May 17, 2010 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. dulcemareas

    Reblogged this on The Highly Sensitive Family and commented:
    Interesting tie between visual and sensory system.

    March 20, 2012 at 06:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Stacie

    Having a Highly Senstive Brain is a gift. Mines just been affected by taking some bad pills and I will do anything to get it back.

    April 27, 2012 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Samui Island Weddings

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  38. sherri hall-rivera

    This applies to my children & I, {probably my grandchildren as well}. Thank you for the enlightenment & what I can apply. I am searching more websites as well. After 52 years, I have some peace of mind about my chemical make-up:)

    October 8, 2012 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. rowan haines

    This makes so much sense now. I have recently come accross Elaine Aron's book, done the test and surprised myself in understanding why I suffer with constant anxiety. I have been hypersensitive (as defined by my family!) since I was born. I can not tolerate being shouted at. In. any. way. My response is to run. I am not shy with people, one at a time, yet I cant tolerate being in a party/social atmosphere, as I find I cant respond quickly enough to all the stimulus going on around me, and I start flapping and getting short of breath, generally stressed and, and sweating. I feel other people's emotions very strongly, consequently, I am often doing far too much for others, have meltdowns on a regular cycle, unable to cope with the pressure I take upon myself, needing to cry and then withdraw into my head without stimulation in order to work through all that has happenned. I hate crowds, very often panicking, I avoid leaving the house when I am feeling very sensitive and when I have been with my 2 year old, all morning, I need to sleep for 2 hours to recover from his normal 2 year old behaviour. Thanks so much for writing this article. I am so relieved to know that I have a mental health disorder (general anxiety disorder) as a result of suffering from "Sensory processing sensitivity" and not because of the environment I was bought up in....

    April 14, 2013 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Johnny

    Wow!! so nice to see "others" here, welcome to the club in this very very loud busy world we live in :)

    April 26, 2013 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. usillyrabbit

    Finally. After 20+ years of being told that I'm overly sensitive BECAUSE I have depression and anxiety, when I believe it was the other way around. I am not an introvert- I am quite outgoing, but not good at socializing because so many noises, smells and visual cues (chewing, expressions, etc.) bother me. I've been called "overly sensitive" all my life, but always in a manner that implied I was at fault and a problem. I have also had people call me psychic or omniscient, which I found funny. In recent years I've realized that "6th sense" people said I had was actually some kind of ability to pick up on visual or audio cues that others didn't notice. I likened it to animal senses. Now that I know this is a real thing, where do I find some kind of therapy to help me block it out so I can be less on edge all the time and hopefully improve my social life?!

    June 3, 2013 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. MM

    To usillyrabbit,

    I have Sensory Processing Disorder which explains all of my SPS symptoms. You might benefit from Occupational Therapy. If you do your research you may be able to locate one that is SIPT certified. An OT that is SIPT certified has been trained to evaluate and treat such sensitivities by using comprehensive methods that rerout the brain activity, as well as behavioral responses, to various stimuli. This program introduces new ways to approach stimulus, allowing for simple/fundamental coping mechanisms to finally work. It's not a cure all, and decent programs should last 9 months.

    Good luck,
    MM

    June 14, 2013 at 01:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.