Have you ever been called sensitive, like it’s a bad thing? Like it’s a flaw you should work on? Or have you experienced the opposite? Are you surrounded by people who appreciate sensitivity as a character trait?
For some people, sensitivity isn’t a trait. Some people’s brains are wired differently. A Highly Sensitive Person is a person whose brain is wired to be particularly sensitive to their surroundings. This is something that happens in 15–20% of the population, and it leads to Highly Sensitive People being more observant, to look and think before they act.
But what does it mean, exactly, to have a brain wired differently? What does it mean to have a brain wired to be sensitive to your surroundings?
Lower Levels of Serotonin
If you’re a Highly Sensitive Person, then you likely have a gene variant that affects your brain’s serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical in your brain. One of its jobs is to stabilize your mood. This gene variant both lowers your brain’s levels of serotonin and increases your sensitivity to your surroundings.
But what does this mean, exactly?
It means that you learn from experience and from your surroundings better than most. It means that any strong emotional experience, good or bad, can impact your well-being. Depending on the occasion, this can be both a blessing and a curse.
Higher Sensitivity to Dopamine
Highly Sensitive People have a different dopamine system than most. What this means is that, if you’re one of them, you might have noticed your brain has a different reward system.
Where most people would feel rewarded by going to a party or a nightclub, you find it exhausting. You might be capable of enjoying these activities at times, but they definitely tire you out faster than it does other people.
Instead, you’re more likely to feel rewarded by any positive emotional or social interaction from the people around you.
Active Mirror Neurons
Mirror neurons are parts of our brain that allow us to understand what someone else is feeling or doing based on their actions. As a Highly Sensitive Person, your mirror neurons work differently. They affect your perception of the people around you, and as a result, affect how you interact with them.
This doesn’t mean you have more mirror neurons than others. It means that yours are more active than most, and that’s what allows you to be so empathetic.
There is a part of your brain that is in charge of picking up emotional cues from other people and determining how you react to them. If you’re a Highly Sensitive Person, this means you pick up on the finer details of the world around you better than most.
You’re more aware of other people’s emotional states, and that’s why you’re considered so empathetic. But your own emotions are also different. You experience emotions far more vividly than others do. This can affect how you react to the world around you.
Life as a Highly Sensitive Person
Not everyone appreciates sensitivity as a trait, and that can make it hard to exist as a Highly Sensitive Person. But this isn’t your fault. Still, it’s possible that you might need help, especially if you’ve only just realized you might be a Highly Sensitive Person.
This isn’t an easy thing to find out, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.
We are here to help you, first and foremost. So, if this is something you want or something you feel you need, then set up an appointment. Whatever troubles you have, we can help you. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Contact us to learn more about anxiety treatment if you are an HSP.