Hypervigilance: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Hypervigilance: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

February 11 2023 TalktoAngel 0 comments 839 Views

Trauma frequently causes hypervigilance, which is the high condition of continually scanning your surroundings for threats. Hypervigilance is a symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), abuse survivorship, and war experience. There are numerous occurrences that can lead to PTSD. According to Dr (Prof) R K Suri, Clinical Psychologist & Life Coach, “Being continually on edge, on guard, and acutely aware of your surroundings is known as hypervigilance”. Hypervigilance can have many different root causes, including psychological issues like worry and physical ailments like body pains, aches, and weakness. Drugs used for therapeutic and recreational purposes can both have this impact. Based on your medical history and clinical assessment, hypervigilance can be diagnosed. Certain diagnostic procedures, such as blood and imaging tests, may aid in determining the reason. The goal of treatment is to both manage the underlying cause of hypervigilance and lessen its symptoms.

Being overly vigilant is unpleasant. You are more likely to detect feelings than usual, and you may also find it difficult to focus on anything else. Most people have gone through brief periods of being too vigilant. For instance, those who are viewing a horror film or going to a themed "haunted house" are frequently startled by sounds that would normally be commonplace, such as door creaking. And after visiting the snake exhibit, the majority of zoo visitors find themselves tremblingly gazing down at the ground.

Others are too cautious when it comes to extremely certain things, such as sharp noises or discomfort. For instance, you might hear a beeping sound in the adjacent room right away and feel immediately preoccupied or upset by it. You may become too aware of bodily sensations, which can be annoying if a waistband or piece of clothing is pressing on your skin. However, hypervigilance often goes beyond mild irritation, and you may find yourself continuously looking out for dangers.


Every time you board an airplane, your anxiety could be so intense that you find it difficult to relax, eat, or read a magazine. Additionally, emotion can interfere with your life if you are constantly attentive.

Any of the following signs or symptoms could be experienced by someone who is hypervigilant:

  • Jumpiness
  • Paranoia
  • Frequent head jerks and eye-scanning of the surroundings
  • Distraction from conversations with others, pressing tasks, and entertainment
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Sleep disturbance
  • A sense of helplessness
  • Dependence on others
  • A propensity for conflict or argument with others
  • Exhaustion
  • A change in appetite


You are at greater risk for hypervigilance due to a number of risk factors. Some medical conditions that enhance the chance of hypervigilance include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fibromyalgia, hyperthyroidism, adrenal illness, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

Medical Conditions

You can become more alert (you anticipate unpleasant feelings, experiences, or situations) or more sensitive to your surroundings (you feel things more vividly) as a result of medical conditions.

For instance, lack of sleep might make you jittery, agitated, and pain-prone. Pheochromocytoma is an example of an endocrine tumor that can cause a sensation of impending doom. Additionally, acute paranoia can frequently be briefly brought on by drug use or withdrawal.

Allodynia, which is the sensation of pain in response to non-painful touch, sensory overload, and sensitivity to light and noise are all symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Threat Perception

The human brain typically takes in a lot of information from its environment, including everything that is heard, felt, smelled, and even tasted. All of these messages are too numerous to be consciously aware of and focused on.

The brain contains a filtering mechanism to efficiently manage information input. Sensory information that is deemed irrelevant is muted.

However, your brain pays closer attention to any message it deems hazardous. You react to loud noises, harmful animals or insects, threatening individuals, and uncomfortable bodily sensations because they can all be harmful.

A threat is being watched out for with hypervigilance. While others converse or check their phones on their phones without any concern for the elevator, you may listen anxiously for any sign of an elevator malfunction even though your mind knows that it is not necessary to constantly be on the lookout for dangerous animals, like wolves or lions, in an urban apartment building.

Life Experiences

Hypervigilance can be significantly influenced by life events and experiences. Children who have witnessed domestic violence may become anxious around loud noises. Adults who were bullied may experience anxiety when they are near persons who resemble their bullies. A person who has survived a fire could respond inappropriately to smoke alarms or campfire smells.

And if you have hypervigilance, these triggers won't just set you off when they do; you'll also be looking out for them subconsciously. For example, you might pick up on an aggressive fight even when people are just joking around, or you might notice smoke rising from a candle in the house.


Drugs aren't typically thought of as the first therapeutic option for treating hypervigilance. Counseling and coping mechanisms are frequently helpful, but it's also important to treat the underlying problem.


It is best to locate a therapist whose method you are most at ease with. You might need to discuss specific instances and circumstances that may have contributed to your current anxieties.

You can learn to adopt a more objective viewpoint toward your concerns over time.

Among the coping mechanisms that can lessen hypervigilance are:

  • Dealing with stress
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Deep breathing


If sickness is to blame for your hypervigilance, treating the illness can enhance your overall health by reducing your hypervigilance. It is advised to stop using any recreational drugs or medications that cause hypervigilance as a side effect. Seek consultation with the best “Psychiatrist near me” for better management of hypervigilance. Some people find being too vigilant to be so upsetting that they avoid places or circumstances where it is likely to happen. This strategy may work well if the occasions are infrequent and unimportant in the grand scheme of your life.

However, you may benefit from online counseling so that you can more fully enjoy life if avoiding your triggers causes you to become isolated or hinders your ability to be productive. Although it might seem impossible at times, keep in mind that you can get past hypervigilance with time and effort.

Consulting the best "Clinical Psychologist near me", in case you are grappling with unrealistic fears of failure to learn coping strategies. If you are hyper-vigilant seek Online Consultation with a “Psychologist near me” or the Best Therapist in India for Online Counselling you can connect with TalktoAngel Asia’s No.1 mental health platform.

Contributed by: Dr (Prof) R K Suri, Clinical Psychologist & Life Coach & Ms. Aditi Bhardwaj, Psychologist 



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