What is hypervigilance?

Hypervigilance — the elevated state of constantly assessing potential threats around you — is often the result of a trauma. People who have been in combat, have survived abuse, or have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can exhibit hypervigilance. PTSD can be caused by a wide variety of incidents.


What does hypervigilance feel like?

What Is Hypervigilance? Hypervigilance is a state of increased alertness. If you're in a state of hypervigilance, you're extremely sensitive to your surroundings. It can make you feel like you're alert to any hidden dangers, whether from other people or the environment.

What is an example of hypervigilance?

Hypervigilance is the body's way of protecting you from threatening situations. It can occur in an environment where you perceive an extreme threat. An example may include walking home late at night through a strange neighborhood.


What is emotional hypervigilance?

Hypervigilance is a heightened state of arousal, stress or sensitivity to certain sensory stimuli. It can cause intense emotional reactions, anxiety and impulsive patterns of behaviour. It makes us feel alert to hidden dangers - a primal sense of threat, a feeling of treading around on eggshells without knowing why.

What does PTSD hypervigilance feel like?

One of the many hyper-arousal symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is hypervigilance and this refers to the experience of being in a state of high alert, constantly tense and 'on guard' and always on the lookout for hidden dangers, both real and presumed – it's stressful and exhausting to maintain.


Hypervigilance and How to Overcome It



What triggers hypervigilance?

Causes of Hypervigilance

Hypervigilance — the elevated state of constantly assessing potential threats around you — is often the result of a trauma. People who have been in combat, have survived abuse, or have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can exhibit hypervigilance.

How do I know if I have hypervigilance?

People experiencing hypervigilance may: keep checking their surroundings and find it hard to focus on conversations. be easily startled and jump or scream at things they hear or see suddenly. overreact to things happening around them in a way that may seem hostile.

Which type of abuse is likely to cause hypervigilance?

Hypervigilance is commonly a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can also be a symptom of panic disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. Other experiences that can cause hypervigilance include being a survivor of domestic or childhood abuse, a war veteran, or surviving sexual assault.


Is hypervigilance a symptom of ADHD?

Hypervigilance is often found in children with ADHD and PTSD (often as a result of abuse) and they will be continually monitoring their environment.

Does loneliness cause hypervigilance?

Many studies have shown that loneliness is associated with hypervigilance for social threats. Experimental studies found that individuals suffering a high level of loneliness were more likely to perceive ambiguous information as threats (Qualter et al., 2013).

How long does hypervigilance last?

With PTSD, the symptoms must last for at least one month after the threatening situation.


How does hypervigilance affect the brain?

Hypervigilance can cause significant distress, impair functioning by reducing the attentional resources to focus on the task at hand, and contribute to the maintenance or onset of other symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) such as re-experiencing and avoidance (e.g., Chemtob et al., 1988, Constans, 2005).

Does hypervigilance ever go away?

You are experiencing hypervigilance, which is likely a result of having endured some form of trauma and dealing with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD/C-PTSD). Dealing with hypervigilance due to trauma can be frustrating, but it is treatable.

What are three 5 PTSD symptoms?

Common symptoms of PTSD
  • vivid flashbacks (feeling like the trauma is happening right now)
  • intrusive thoughts or images.
  • nightmares.
  • intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma.
  • physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling.


Is hypervigilance a symptom of BPD?

According to cognitive theory, an important factor in borderline personality disorder (BPD) is hypervigilance.

What is the opposite of hypervigilance?

The opposite of hypervigilance might be an appropriate level of vigilance - a level of attention to potential danger that doesn't cause distress or lead to negative effects on emotional, physical, or mental health.

What part of the brain controls hypervigilance?

Hypervigilance in PTSD

Trauma can rewire the brain to put you on high alert. Research from 2019 suggests that those with trauma experience increased activity in their amygdala, the part of your brain that sends out the “code red” signal.


What are the 6 major types of anxiety disorders?

The five major types of anxiety disorders are:
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder. ...
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ...
  • Panic Disorder. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)


What kind of trauma causes ADHD?

Traumatic stress, apart from other factors like premature birth, environmental toxins, and genetics, is associated with risk for ADHD. The connection is likely rooted in toxic stress – the result of prolonged activation of the body's stress management system.

Is hypervigilance a fight or flight?

During hypervigilance, the body's sympathetic nervous system is activated which is responsible for our fight and flight response, and response to potential danger.


Is flinching a trauma response?

Depending on the type of trauma experienced, children may jump when they hear loud noises or become skittish in situations similar to the initial trauma. Children who have suffered physical abuse may flinch when an adult's hand comes near the face.

What are the early warning signs of PTSD?

Changes in physical and emotional reactions
  • Being easily startled or frightened.
  • Always being on guard for danger.
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior.
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame.


What are the 3 clusters of symptoms of PTSD?

Discussing the Effect of Trauma > The Three Symptom Clusters of...
  • Re-experiencing.
  • Avoidance and numbing.
  • Hyperarousal.


Why do people with PTSD isolate themselves?

By isolating themselves, PTSD sufferers can avoid negative responses or continued efforts to explain feelings. Self-isolation may not be a conscious choice. As individuals struggle to deal with their feelings, being alone seems like the easiest option.

Can you get PTSD from being alone?

Loneliness was associated with posttraumatic stress symptoms at both time points. Social loneliness was longitudinally associated with posttraumatic stress symptoms. Emotional loneliness was longitudinally associated with posttraumatic stress symptoms. This relationship may be bidirectional.