When HSP’s and empaths are unable to get away from environments that stress them, or to get time alone, they can experience bouts of depression.
Empaths and highly sensitive people (HSP’s) are often over-stimulated by their environment. They are very sensitive to other people’s behavior, moods and actions. Noisy and chaotic environments can also be difficult for them to cope with. HSP’s and empaths also need plenty of time alone in order to recharge. When sensitive people do not get the balance they need, they can easily experience bouts of depression.
There are several reasons why bouts of depression are more common in HSP’s and empaths.
1. They easily experience sensory overload
Those with high sensitivity absorb more sensory information, experience that information more intensely and feel emotions more deeply than others. This means that very stimulating environments, such as busy offices or noisy classrooms, can easily overwhelm them. Unfortunately, it can often be difficult to avoid these stimulating environments, and this can lead to depression.
While it is impossible for HSP’s and Empaths to avoid stimulating environments at all times, balancing the time spent in busy environments with time spent in quieter, calmer ones can help. Getting sufficient time alone can also help HSP’s and Empaths feel calmer and happier, alleviating the symptoms of depression.
2. They easily experience physical overload
As well as experiencing sensory overload, HSP’s are very sensitive to their physical environment. They are also more sensitive to how their bodies feel. Many foods and chemicals cause adverse reactions in HSP’s.
Some HSP’s are particularly sensitive to caffeine, household cleaners, and prescription drugs. This extreme sensitivity can make them worry that they have something physically wrong with them. Unfortunately, they rarely get any sympathy and may be labeled as hypochondriacs.
HSP’s can often feel better by following a natural diet with no artificial ingredients. You can also help reduce sensitivities by switching to using natural cosmetics and cleaning products. Keep a vigilant eye on the ingredients in every product or food in your home and check it has no chemical nasties. It can take some time to work out if any particular substance is causing a reaction, but it can be well worth the investigation.
3. They experience other people’s pain directly
Empaths and HSP’s not only notice how other people are feeling, they experience those feelings themselves. This means that an empath can easily pick up others negativity, anger, and depression. They absorb these feelings and begin to feel those emotions, too.
Empaths and HSPs often struggle to identify which emotions are theirs and which are not. Becoming more self-aware can help this. Ultimately, though, Empaths and HSP’s need to avoid spending too much time with negative people or at least balance this time with more uplifting relationships or time alone.
4. They feel like there is something wrong with them
Empaths and HSP’s often feel that there is something wrong with them. They cannot understand why things that do not bother others affect them so strongly. People may describe HSPs as shy, intense or needy. This can make them feel unacceptable and inherently flawed. When we feel we are unacceptable we begin to feel shame, self-doubt, and low self-esteem.
Some HSPs and Empaths may be diagnosed with mental health disorders such as social anxiety, mood disorders or depression. Feeling flawed is hard on anyone’s self-esteem. It is little wonder that HSPs who feel there is basically something wrong with them often slip into bouts of depression.
The good news for HSP’s is that recent research suggests that sensitive people actually have brains that work a little differently to others. Elaine Aron and her colleagues recently published a study that showed sensitivity was associated with activation of brain regions involved in awareness, integration of sensory information, empathy, and action planning.
What this means is that HSP’s are not making a fuss or overreacting, they simply experience the world differently because their brains are wired in a different way. Learning more about high sensitivity and joining a community can help HSPs feel less alone and misunderstood.
5. They feel like they don’t fit in
In a society that values extroversion, social abilities and those who are confident and speak out, it can feel like there is no place for quieter and more thoughtful types. HSP’s and empaths can feel that they do not fit into a society like this, which can make them withdraw further.
When our gifts are not appreciated, it can leave us feeling that there is no place for us in this world.
Luckily, in recent years, much research has investigated sensitivity and empathy. Thanks to the research of people like Elaine Aaron and Susan Cain, sensitivity and quietness are now better understood. Susan Cain’s research has proved that there are many situations when quieter people can be an essential part of business, communities, and society as a whole.
Ultimately, HSP’s and Empaths have to learn to value their gifts and accept who they are. Sensitive people can offer unique insights and abilities to the world including perceptiveness, intuition, conscientiousness and empathy. These gifts are desperately required in our world today. Far from feeling ashamed, HSPs and empaths should feel proud of their sensitivity.