Are you easily overwhelmed by your environment or the people around you? Are you overstimulated by loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells? If so, you may be highly sensitive or highly anxious. 

It’s easy to confuse highly sensitive people (HSPs) and people with high anxiety (HA). After all, both terms refer to individuals who experience heightened levels of emotional sensitivity. However, it’s important to understand that HSPs and people with HA are two distinct personalities. If you undergo individual therapy, professionals would tell you there are many differences between these two.

Highly Sensitive People (HSPs)

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) are particularly sensitive to their environment, often experiencing heightened emotional responses to certain stimuli. HSPs are often described as “in tune” with their emotions, as they can pick up on subtle emotional cues and respond to them quickly and intuitively. HSPs are often highly creative, intuitive, and empathetic but can also be prone to feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. 

People with High Anxiety (HA)

People with high anxiety (HA) experience heightened levels of anxiety and fear in response to certain stimuli. People with HA often live in constant worry and fear and can become easily overwhelmed by their emotions. They may also experience physical symptoms such as dizziness, rapid heart rate, and difficulty breathing. People with HA often require more support and guidance from individual therapy than those who do not experience high levels of anxiety. 

HSP vs. People with HA: Which One Are You?

There are a few factors that can help you determine whether you are a highly sensitive person (HSP) or a person with high anxiety (HA), such as:

  • The level of emotional sensitivity: It’s important to note that both HSPs and HAPs can experience emotional sensitivity and that the two traits are not mutually exclusive. While HSPs may experience heightened emotional sensitivity, they are not necessarily prone to anxiety. Similarly, HAPs may be more sensitive to their environment but are not necessarily highly sensitive.
  • The response to stressors: When it comes to how we respond to stressors, it can be a very individualized experience. HSPs may be more likely to respond to stressors with a heightened sense of emotion, manifesting in various ways, from feeling overwhelmed to feeling an intense emotional connection to their surroundings. On the other hand, those with HA may respond with extreme fear and anxiety, which causes them to become easily overwhelmed or freeze up in situations that require a quick response. 
  • The ability to manage emotions. For HSPs, this is especially true as they are more likely to be in tune with their feelings and be able to process them healthily. However, for those with HA, managing emotions can be more difficult due to their tendency to be overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.

Nonetheless, the best way to determine which one you are is to attend individual therapy and identify your triggers and how you typically respond to them. This way, you can better manage your emotions and lead a more balanced life.

Final Thoughts

It is significant to be aware of the signs and symptoms of being highly sensitive or anxious. While these two states can overlap, they have distinct characteristics that help you differentiate between them. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of each and understanding their differences, people can better identify their emotional states and take appropriate steps to manage them.

Riverbend Life Strategies provides reliable and cost-effective individual therapy to people who need help managing their emotions and leading a balanced life. Our experienced therapists provide a safe and non-judgmental environment where clients can explore their emotions and take steps toward emotional growth and healing. Get in touch with us today for more details!