Hypervigilance is a state of being constantly tense, in a state of alert and extremely conscious of your environment.
A small but growing body of research suggests that hypervigilance is a characteristic of fibromyalgia and may be a common symptom contributing overstimulation.
The idea is that our brains become too aware of things that can include painful stimuli, sounds, bright light, and general activity.
This could explain why our body is so painfully reacting to a sensation that most people would not experience so painful (called allodynia), and why we are sensitive to noise, light, chaotic environments and so much more.
With hypervigilance, not only does it make things easier, but it is unlikely that you can distract from them. If something beeps in the other room, you will notice it immediately, will be very distracted by it, and will probably become agitated if it does not go away.
The same applies to the feeling of pressure of a belt or how a tissue rubs on the skin. Our brain perceives it as a threat, our brain is attached to it, and our physiological response is much more extreme than it should be.
In many conditions, hypervigilance is associated with anxiety. A fibromyalgia study, however, suggested that we could be hypervigilant with or without anxiety.
Die Hypervigilanz Experience
The human brain perceives a lot of information about our environments that do not consciously ever.
There are too many signals to bombard our brains at any given moment, so there is a filtering process – things are filtered out unimportant, and we never know them.
Anything that threatens your brain, however, will receive additional attention. This can be a very personal answer, depending on what your brain has, the danger is learned.
Take, for example, people with phobia spiders (fear of spiders.) Because it’s almost certainly the first person in the room who sees a defect on the wall or something small on the carpet in the room . Their brains are constantly on their guard, especially in places where they have often seen spiders.
If they see a spider, they may panic, want to run away, want to curl up in a safe place and scream. With fibromyalgia, the response to overly stimulating environments can be similar.
I have personal experience with that. Once I was online to buy something in a small chaotic store where a colleague had been loud, thrashy music with an extremely fast pace. Fortunately, I was with my husband and when I gave him my article and told him that I could get out of there, he understood.
Outside, I sat against a wall, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath until I was safe from attacking an adult attack. As an arachnophobe, I can see the similarities between that, and what happens when I see a spider.
Living with hypervigilance
Most parents experience some hypervigilance when it comes to our children. If you have a new baby, the smallest moans can get you out of bed.
They notice few dangers that other people do not like an exposed power outlet or a pot on the edge of a table.
Thus, while hypervigilance is normal in some situations, it is not healthy to spend too much time in a hypervigilant state. Police and soldiers in combat zones often do this, putting them at risk for PTSD.
Hypervigilance can disrupt sleep, lead to avoidance behavior and make you nervous and anxious. Being alert all the time is exhausting. It can make you irritable and subject to eruptions. Panic attacks are definitely possible.
Hypervigilance is an aspect of the disease and not a disease in itself.
If you think hypervigilance is a problem for you, talk to your doctor. This can help shape the direction of your treatment.
Medications are not usually used to treat hypervigilance. Instead, it is recommended for the techniques of the disease and the management of the treatment that caused it.
Adaptation techniques can be:
- cope with stress
- deep breathing
It’s a good idea to get out of situations or environments that speed up your hypervigilance. However, if this leads to isolation or avoidance behavior, you can benefit from the advice.
Although you may sometimes feel hopeless, remember that with time and effort, hypervigilance can be overcome.