Being highly sensitive probably increases our vulnerability to anxiety. I’m sure that has been the case for me, and I have had varying degrees of anxiety for most of my life.
Part of my motivation in researching and creating my series of sites is to better understand a variety of social and psychological issues that affect talent development and creativity – including the issue of mood challenges like anxiety: how it affects us, and what we can do about it.
Elaine Aron, PhD thinks “high sensitivity increases the impact of all emotionally tinged events, making childhood trauma particularly scarring.” [From the post Elaine Aron on High Sensitivity and the Undervalued Self - about her new book.]
That is a helpful concept, I think: that being highly sensitive increases the potency of any experiences with emotional elements.
I just came across a news release about research at Penn State indicating that “Anxiety sensitivity, or the fear of feeling anxious, may put people who are already above-average worriers at risk for depression.”
Andres Viana, a graduate student in psychology, explains, “Those with anxiety sensitivity are afraid of their anxiety because their interpretation is that something catastrophic is going to happen when their anxious sensations arise.”
For more details about this research, see the article Anxiety sensitivity may put people at risk for depression.
The impacts of anxiety
In her book The Highly Sensitive Child, Elaine Aron notes that some sensitive adolescents may drink and use drugs to try to overcome anxiety or depression through self-medication.
Also see my article Gifted, Talented, Addicted.
But even if anxiety doesn’t get so extreme we feel a need to self-medicate or get professional help, feeling anxious adds to our unease and general discomfort with situations and other people – and ourselves.
“I think I’ve spent my adult life dealing with the sense of low self-esteem that sort of implanted in me. Somehow I felt not worthy.”
That quote by Halle Berry about being abused as a child, indicates how much impact trauma can have.
See more quotes by her, and a number of other actors, writers such as J.K. Rowling, and psychologists on the impact of traumatic experiences, including bullying, in my post Creative People and Trauma.
Dealing with anxiety
In her Spring 2010 newsletter, Jenna Forrest writes (and links to a video) about the Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT) - “For clearing emotional pain, traumatic flashbacks, anxiety triggers, and unwanted mental images in 2-3 minutes.”
I don’t know about TAT, but it sounds like EFT – see my post Counselor Rue Hass on using EFT to help highly sensitive people celebrate their positive qualities.
Also see my post Ten Tips For Relieving Anxiety.
I haven’t used either of those techniques, but have benefited from occasional use of the herbal preparation PureCalm, and the Holosync CD from Centerpointe Research, which I have used fairly often, and find very calming.
Changing our environment
Dr. Ted Zeff notes that “Looking for happiness and trying to obtain a feeling of self-worth only from outside stimuli can create anxiety and tension for the reflective, sensitive person… If you know that a certain environment creates anxiety, either try to change the unhealthy, over-stimulating situation or remove yourself from the source of tension.”
From his HSP Health post Changing Habits.
Also listen to our audio interview: Dr. Ted Zeff on how people can benefit from being highly sensitive.
Video: Being Highly Sensitive – With Anxiety — includes clip: testimonial by Donna Meyers about experiencing shyness and other feelings that may go along with high sensitivity, and about getting relief for her anxiety using The Linden Method [link to info page on my Anxiety Relief Solutions site].