Are You a "Highly Sensitive Person?" The Facts About Hypersensitivity and ADHD

"Toughen up!" "Don't be so sensitive." "I can't believe that bothers you!" If you've heard these things all your life, you may have hypersensitivity — a real condition with real coping strategies.

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Why People With ADHD Are Likely to Have Hypersensitivity

“Just as we have trouble filtering what goes out,” says Hallowell, who has ADHD himself, “we have trouble filtering what comes in. I can’t back this up with research, but in my clinical experience, and in my own life, it seems that we tend to let things get to us. We take on the experiences of others very quickly, like the insect on the leaf that takes on the color of the leaf.”

Maté explains that, if ADHDers are born with a high level of sensitivity, it takes less stimulation for them to feel more, making stimulating environments and conversations feel overwhelming at times. Plus, the more sensitive we are, the more likely we’ll feel pain. “Emotional pain and physical pain are experienced in the same part of the brain,” he says.

Many of us have discovered positive things about living with ADHD, and a high level of sensitivity may also be used to our advantage. But like ADHD, hypersensitivity must be managed and controlled to let the positive aspects — creativity, empathy, and depth of perception — shine through. I’ve managed to do it, and so can you.


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TAGS: ADHD Symptoms, Comorbid Conditions with ADD, Hypersensitivity

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