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Exploring Whether Highly Sensitive People Are More Susceptible to Illness

Photo from Jean Huber, LCSW

The topic of whether Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) are more prone to sickness or stress emerges when studying their health. Social media is full of questions regarding HSP-related health conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and migraines, but science has not shown a link.

Photo from Jean Huber, LCSW

Are Highly Sensitive People More Sick?

Much research has examined the relationship between Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS), another acronym for HSP, and physical symptoms. A 2006 study linked SPS to physical complaints in American university students. A 2016 Norwegian university student study found no association between SPS and subjective health problems.

In 2023, Benham and colleagues found that stress mediates SPS and physical health. Stress affected health outcomes more than sensitivity. Medical study shows that stress causes health problems in everyone.

Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) is one of two survival strategies observed in many species, not a disease vulnerability trait. Despite being a minority, HSPs pay attention to details and adapt to their surroundings. Childhood events heighten this feature, called “differential susceptibility.” HSPs may be anxious, introverted, or overachieving, depending on their childhood.

READ ALSO: Urgent Call For Missed MMR Vaccines As Measles

Health Insights for Highly Sensitive People and the Power of Stress Management

The feature does not require a perfect childhood for health and pleasure. Instead, it emphasizes early learning to prepare for maturity. According to a study of Syrian refugee children, those with higher childhood adversities dealt better with war-related traumas, challenging the idea that a “good” childhood necessarily leads to better outcomes.

Stress reduction is essential for everyone, but HSPs’ observing nature allows them to manage and be healthier actively. Understand and mitigate stressors, which the HSP can do by observing the world and finding better ways to traverse it.

READ ALSO: How Psychobiotics Boost Gut Health And Happiness

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