ADHD Videos

Are You Hypersensitive?

One in five individuals is a “highly sensitive person” (HSP). Hypersensitivity commonly occurs with ADHD. Learn the common signs, and how to cope.

Reviewed on March 23, 2018

Hypersensitive people are over-responsive to their environment. That is, they avoid loud noises, flashing lights, and strong smells at all costs.

It’s more difficult for them to process and act upon the information received by the five senses, and that can lead to emotional overwhelm. Could you be a “highly sensitive person?” Learn more by watching this video.

Are You Hypersensitive?

One in five individuals is a “highly sensitive person” (HSP). Hypersensitivity commonly occurs with ADHD.

Common physical sensitivities include:

  • Loud noises
  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Fast moving objects
  • Strong odors
  • Coarse fabric or tags
  • The feeling of hair against skin

HSPs are more likely to suffer from:

  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Allergies
  • Over-the-Top Emotions

“Emotional pain and physical pain are experienced in the same part of the brain,” says Ned Hallowell, M.D.

Hypersensitive people with ADHD feel pain more acutely and dramatically than do others. Unkind words that may bounce off others can leave a HSP in tears. For HSPs, stimulating environments and conversations feel overwhelming at times. That can lead to an emotional overreaction.

“Just as we have trouble filtering what goes out,” says Hallowell, who has ADHD himself, “We also have trouble filtering what comes in.”

If you’re living with hypersensitivity, pursue an evaluation for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and try these approaches:

  • Block it out. To avoid sensory overload and anxiety, carry earplugs and a headset with you.
  • Make sure you’ve had enough sleep, or take a nap, before facing a situation that will be highly stimulating.
  • Meditate, pray, or use another relaxation method to strengthen your coping mechanisms.
  • Reduce extraneous stimulation by saying ‘no’ to unnecessary or overwhelming obligations.
  • Be a homebody. Highly sensitive people need more time than others to process the events of the day, so stay in more often.

“When you know that you are highly sensitive, it reframes your life. Sensitive people have to live differently in order to be comfortable.” — Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.


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  1. I have a friend who is not only ADHD but also Hypersensitive as I am but also attends the same church as i. Last year i invited him to attend a series of group sessions with me and he was startled to discover a new world of similarities. We discussed all the issues that we could think of in our one hour or more telephone conversations until one time he asked me if I noticed the Ministers terrible breath .We surmised it was due to the special oils he uses in his cooking as he was from Asia. I had to admit i had also noticed them. It could be disastrous in his work as a spiritual advisor and I was genuinely concerned that someone extremely tactful should let him know. I happened to meet with that someone the nextday at a function and you guessed it the “condition was passed along and seemed to disapear.
    Now i find out that the issue is ours not the pastors. My tactful friend had lost his sense of smell so had been unable to verify our findings before carrying out his infomative errand
    I am of two minds on this, do nothing, or admit my misconception and affliction and apologize
    . Are there any other solutions out there to this conundrum?

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