With hypervigilance we describe an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity, or hypersensitivity, usually complemented by an exaggerated intensity of behaviours whose purpose is to detect threats.
Hypervigilance creates a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion or depression over time.
Symptoms of hypervigilance may include: abnormally increased arousal (often the result of trauma, or even ruptured attachment relationships in early childhood or abuse). This results in a permanently very high responsiveness to stimuli, and a constant scanning of the environment for threats of any nature and a constant effort to “be safe” in any kind of situation.
In hypervigilance, a person perpetually scans their environment in order to detect any sights, sounds, people, behaviours, smells, or anything else that is indicative of threat or trauma. In some cases it may also result in projection of threats, and constant negative What If thoughts.
The individual is constantly placed on high alert in order to be certain danger is not approaching. Hypervigilance can lead to a variety of obsessive behaviour patterns, as well as result in difficulties with social interaction and relationships.
Hypervigilance can be one of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and various types of anxiety disorders. It is distinguished from paranoia.
People suffering from hypervigilance can often 'overreact' to loud and unexpected noises or become agitated in highly crowded or noisy environments or social situations. They can also have difficulties getting to sleep or staying asleep.
Hypnotherapy is an effective, drug-free treatment which helps to lower anxiety and address trauma, as well as over time lower the state of hypervigilance.
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