Healing Hypervigilence

Hypervigilance is about more than just being extra vigilant. It is a state of extreme alertness that undermines quality of life. If you are hypervigilant, you are always on the lookout for hidden dangers, both real and presumed. Because of this, hypervigilance can leave you exhausted while interfering with interpersonal relationships, work, and your ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

Chronic hypervigilance is a common consequence of PTSD, particularly in people who have been in dangerous environments for a long time (such as serving in battle during a war) or experienced extreme emotional trauma. Hypervigilance is one of the central features of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also occur with other anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, substance/medication-induced anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Schizophrenia, dementia, and paranoia can also induce hypervigilance. Hypervigilance is a term psychologists use to refer to those among us who are locked into a state of almost continuous wariness, rumination and compulsive anxiety.

By understanding more about the condition, we can take steps to mitigate its worst effects, gradually moving ourselves from hyper to more ordinary varieties of vigilance. If you have generalized anxiety disorder, you might be hypervigilant in new situations or environments that you're unfamiliar with. If you have social anxiety, you may be hypervigilant in the presence of others, especially new people or people you don't trust.


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