Why Anxiety and the Highly Sensitive Person Go Hand in Hand

Creative Arts Therapy Source | New York and New Jersey_Creative Arts Therapy Source | New York and New Jersey

Last time, I told you about the powers of being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Those powers are plentiful but they come with a trade-off. The average HSP experiences anxiety-like symptoms on a regular basis. Sensory overload is common and its results in symptoms that are almost indistinguishable from an anxiety disorder. This is where it gets tricky.

Unhealthy anxiety is caused when get you stuck in a perpetual fight-or-flight loop. An HSP is very susceptible to anxiety. Eventually, this means the HSP can’t tell where sensory processing sensitivity ends and anxiety begins. You might say anxiety and the Highly Sensitive Person go hand in hand.


To better understand anxiety, let’s review some of its more enduring signs:

  • Sweaty hands
  • Sweating in general
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of concentration
  • Trembling
  • Rapid breathing
  • A sense of dread or doom
  • Chronic worrying
  • Panic and/or panic attacks
  • Digestive issues
  • Sleep disturbances.

To better understand HSPs, let’s review the “DOES” acronym:

The Highly Sensitive Person

To better understand HSPs, let’s review the “DOES” acronym:

D = Depth of Processing

What you may call “overthinking,” the HSP calls normal as they process, reflect, and make connections.

O = Overstimulation

It could be anything from textures to sounds to noises to smells and tastes. The HSP’s senses are often in a state of hyperarousal. This, in turn, triggers the fight-or-flight response.

E = Empathy

Imagine feeling all your emotions intensely. Now imagine feeling the emotions of others just as intensely. This is everyday life in the realm of HSPs. It’s enlightening yet exhausting.

S = Sensitivity

More specifically, this is sensory sensitivity. No detail goes unnoticed. This can range from contemplating the hues of the sunset to responding to the mood shifts of people nearby.

The gift of experiencing the world in all its richness is counterbalanced by the likelihood of anxiety being present. It’s bittersweet but there are ways to make it work for you.

So, Now What?

You don’t want to lose your HSP powers but yeah, you could sure live with at least a little less anxiety. Here are some suggestions to help that along:

  • Identify and monitor your triggers. Keeping a journal is very helpful with this. If you can see the anxiety coming, you’ll be better positioned to manage it.
  • Reject worst-case scenarios. Anxiety is a talented liar. Don’t trust it. Challenge what it tells you. Remind yourself that fears rarely come to pass.
  • Develop relaxation techniques. It could be deep breathing or mellow music or yoga or basically anything that soothes your soul.
  • Set and enforce boundaries. Advocate for yourself in all facets of your life.
  • Cultivate a daily self-care regimen. Prioritize your own needs.
  • Never stop appreciating the enviable powers granted to you by being a highly sensitive person.

Even an HSP can regain control of their life by learning how to address and reduce anxiety.

Ask For Help

Committing to therapy is an ideal and proven path toward the goals you’ve set. Your weekly sessions serve as a safe space from which you can do the work to strike the balance you seek. Working with a skilled professional allows you to expose and explore the patterns that are no longer working in your life. From there, it becomes simpler to plot out new courses and approaches.

I invite you to reach out and learn more. Counseling is a fluid modality — shaped to fit each individual. It’s a giant step on your journey of discovery and evolution. Let’s connect for a free confidential consultation for anxiety therapy. It’ll be your chance to share what you feel as you move through your life.

Creative Arts Therapy Source offers in-person therapy on Long Island. Online therapy is available across New York & New Jersey.