High sensitivity: recognize the signs and learn to manage them

Are there just a few more people around you or are you crazy about street noise, flashing lights, or a combination of these all at once? Or do you meet other people and immediately understand their emotional state? If so, it could be that you are very sensitive. But what exactly is it?

High sensitivity: how do you recognize it?

American psychologist Elaine Aron coined the term high sensitivity in the 1990s. in your opinion about 20 percent of the highly sensitive population, therefore perceiving stimuli from the environment more strongly than others. According to the psychologist, high sensitivity is not a disease, but a special type of Stimulus processing in the nervous system. Rather, it is a character trait that those affected cannot lose.
Those affected react eg. B. sensitive to sounds and smells, as well as to light. They quickly suffer from sensory overload, for example if there is constant noise, people talk to each other and then the phones ring. Others, on the other hand, are stressed by the crowds at concerts or while shopping. At the same time, highly sensitive people are particularly sensitive and sensitive with a high degree of empathy because they can capture other people’s moods more quickly.

in the daily life and in society Highly sensitive people often encounter a lack of understanding or sometimes even rejection because they perceive things differently than strangers or have different needs in certain situations. According to Aron, it could be because of the cultural attitudes of Western countries that sensitivity is still seen as something negative.

Possible signs of high sensitivity

  • stronger pain perception

  • Noises, smells or bright lights are perceived as disturbing or unbearable

  • Tendency to be exhausted and overwhelmed
  • Diligence, conscientiousness, completeness eg. B. during the completion of activities
  • perfectionism
  • Aversion to conflict, preference for harmony
  • Multitasking is difficult
  • tendency to be alone
  • Tendency to concern and introversion
  • nervousness
  • Testing for anxiety and nervousness, eg. B. when others watch you work
  • increased sensitivity
  • rather introverted as extroverted behavior
  • pronounced creativity
  • high enthusiasm
  • strong susceptibility to the moods of others

The more these signs apply to you, the more likely you are to be highly sensitive. However, the symptoms can vary in severity.

Causes of high sensitivity

TO High sensitivity is not a disease, but rather a personality trait, which is inherited. kids, that People predisposed to high sensitivity are more likely to develop this trait when they are more exposed to certain environmental stimuli.

The researchers used MRI to examine different areas of the brains of highly sensitive people and found that increased activation of the insular cortex is visible. Part of the brain – also “seat of consciousness” called – which is associated with the processing of various sensory stimuli. Because of Activation model in the brain, the researchers were able to determine that highly sensitive people can perceive positive but also negative feelings of others more than the average person.

High sensitivity diagnosis

Since hypersensitivity is not a disease, the exact name and existence of the phenomenon are controversial among scientists. There is no doubt that people can, in principle, react very differently to stimuli.
To diagnose high sensitivity, a survey used, which is compiled with the data subject’s self-descriptions. The paper is based on the example of researcher Elaine Aron. The disadvantage of this variant is the risk of confusion with other mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders. However, as research on this topic is still in its infancy, there is still no suitable alternative.

The high sensitivity test

To determine the high sensitivity, Elaine Aron developed a test in which people respective degree of agreement for 27 statements such as “strong stimuli such as loud noises or chaotic scenes bother me a lot”. The test can be divided into three components:

  1. The first component is easy excitability, characterized by being quickly overwhelmed by internal and external demands.
  2. The second component, aesthetic sensitivity, describes the susceptibility to stimuli.
  3. The third component, the low perception threshold, is expressed in a sensory arousal that is perceived as unpleasant when it comes to external stimuli.

Treat with high sensitivity

To a stranger, people with high sensitivity can be perceived as complicated and asocial. However, this quality is not only a curse, it can also be a blessing if handled correctly.


First things first: accept the heightened sensitivity and the fact that you feel and react differently from others. Depending on your sensitivity, you should take time for yourself and rest without completely isolating yourself from others. A healthy middle ground is the best solution.

love for oneself
Learning to love yourself does not happen overnight, it takes time and continuity. Instead of conforming to the norms of society and thereby belittling your feelings, you should learn to accept and love your character traits. While it may be difficult at first, feelings are not a weakness to be ashamed of, they are simply a part of who you are.

Let your head rest
Many highly sensitive people meditate and analyze a lot. Movement is essential for the rest of the brain. Therefore, exercise regularly, do yoga, or take at least one rest walk every day.

Address high sensitivity

It is said that those who avoid increasingly stressful situations become even more sensitive. Instead of hiding in your own four walls, you should deal with your triggers without overloading yourself. Go eg. For example, go to a party or do something that exposes you to your triggers. After, give yourself some rest and a break. As a result, the body and psyche learn to cope better with such situations.