What is hypervigilance? What can be done about it? Explanation, meaning, definition

Hypervigilance means increased alertness or attention. Hypervigilance is a term used in psychology. Hypervigilance is one of the most common symptoms of psychiatric diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex PTSD. People with hypervigilance are often very jumpy and tense, constantly on guard or struggling with anxiety.

What are the symptoms of hypervigilance?

Symptoms of hypervigilance are varied and often depend on the underlying disorder. However, they are often very similar from underlying disorder to underlying disorder. Below are the most common symptoms of hypervigilance:

Affected individuals tend to continuously keep a close eye on those around them and their environment, constantly questioning whether a threat might be hiding somewhere. To this end, affected individuals intensively analyze, for example, the body language, voice tone, or facial expressions of the people with whom they interact.

Affected individuals often harbor unusually great distrust of other people or they fear that other people might abuse their trust. This can even extend to paranoid states.

Affected individuals expect danger everywhere, even when they are actually aware that there can be no danger.

They are often excessively jumpy in relation to sudden noises or movements and often flinch when other people barely react.

Affected individuals often worry excessively about what other people think about them, how they will be seen, and whether they will be judged.

They often experience constant inner turmoil or permanently elevated anxiety levels.

Affected people are often more easily irritable than others and more prone to aggressive behavior. This is a protective mechanism against perceived threats.

The perception of affected individuals is often distorted. They believe that other people do not like them, that they are being bullied, or that conspiracies are afoot against them.

Physical symptoms are also included: these may include trembling, profuse sweating, an increased heartbeat, or rapid breathing.

Affected individuals feel a constant sense of anxiety or experience panic attacks, even when there is actually no rational reason for them.

Many hypervigilant people suffer from sleep problems. For example, they wake up frequently or have nightmares. This, in combination with the constantly high stress level, often leads to chronic exhaustion in the affected people.

Another symptom is so-called catastrophizing: Here, affected people perceive even minor setbacks as major personal failures and often react accordingly dramatically.

Affected individuals also often develop a social phobia or withdraw to such an extent that they are almost completely socially isolated.

What is the cause of hypervigilance?

In many cases, hypervigilance is the result of trauma. Hypervigilance is particularly common in people who have experienced a traumatic childhood. As a result of these experiences, individuals develop a belief that the world is a dangerous place and that every person they encounter potentially wants to harm them. This is a protective mechanism to prevent further psychological or physical injury or trauma.

What can be done about hypervigilance?

To calm hypervigilance, a basic sense of inner security must be created in the sufferer. In most cases, this requires therapy to work through the underlying trauma or traumas and understand that the past is no longer a threat. Breathing training, meditation and exercise can also help to calm and regulate the nervous system and to perceive reality as such.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

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