Hypervigilance – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Hypervigilance can be best described as a state of heightened awareness and an increased sensitivity to perceived threats in the environment. It was first defined within the context of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as a condition where one develops a persistent fear and alertness to potential dangers that are not immediately present.

This condition is associated with constant monitoring of one’s environment, or being “on the lookout” for danger at all times, and is linked to symptoms such as paranoia, agitation, time distortion and difficulty concentrating.

Hypervigilance has become increasingly prevalent in recent years due to multiple environmental stressors, including war-related trauma, natural disasters and cyberbullying.

People who are living with PTSD may develop hypervigilance, along with other symptoms such as flashbacks, night terrors and avoidance behaviour.

Those suffering from anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder may experience similarly heightened levels of vigilance.

ACoNs (Adult Children of Narcissists) are often hypervigilant because they were raised in an environment of ambient abuse.

The gaslighting, abuse by proxy and constant manipulation had them walking on eggshells, constantly on the alert for danger.


Hypervigilance is a state of heightened alertness and sensitivity to perceived threats in the environment which, if left untreated, can lead to long-term psychological and physical distress.

When it comes to identifying the signs and symptoms of hypervigilance, it is important to be aware of both the physical and psychological manifestations that could indicate someone is struggling with the condition.

Some common physical symptoms associated with hypervigilance include fatigue due to sleep disturbances, shallow breathing patterns, muscle tension, dry mouth sensation or sweating palms, digestive issues such as nausea, and in some cases cardiac arrhythmia.

Psychological effects experienced during this state often involve feelings of surprise and shock when exposed to loud noises or sudden movements; accompanied by fear/anxiety responses such as difficulty sleeping or concentrating on tasks.

Hypervigilance can also be linked to symptoms such as paranoia, agitation, time distortion and difficulty concentrating.

If you notice any of these signs in yourself or somebody close to you it is important that help is sought out.

The sooner treatment is sought out for hypervigilance the better chance there will be for successful recovery from the condition.

Treatment Options for Hypervigilance

Thankfully, there are multiple treatment options available that may help those struggling with hypervigilance manage their symptoms and live more comfortable lives without fear and anxiety constantly looming over them.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps reframe unhelpful thought patterns by teaching individuals how to recognize triggers and better identify irrational beliefs that cause distress.

This type of therapy is usually administered on an individual basis in weekly or biweekly sessions that typically last around 45 minutes each.

In some cases, it may also be conducted in group format.

cognitive behavioral therapy

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy assists those suffering from combat trauma by gradually exposing them to stimuli related to traumatic events.

This method aims at reducing response reactivity over time.

It can take place either in a clinical setting (where therapists actively guide the patient through exposure) or remotely (where the patient carries out exposure exercises at home).

Yoga/Meditation Practice

Yoga and meditation practices provide an effective outlet for calming one’s mind and body while helping to relax tense muscles, reduce stress levels, improve concentration, regulate breathing patterns and restore emotional balance – all of which help address hypervigilance symptoms in a natural way.


Art/Music Therapy

Participating in activities such as painting, drawing or playing instruments can serve as creative outlets for the individual which provide relief from negative thoughts caused by their condition as well as increase self-awareness and improve communication skills.

These activities have been found to be particularly helpful for those living with hypervigilance symptoms, who may benefit from discovering new ways of expressing themselves creatively rather than relying solely on verbal language alone.



It is important that anyone experiencing signs and symptoms of hypervigilance seek out medical help so that professionals can evaluate your situation correctly and come up with an effective treatment plan tailored specifically for your needs.

This will take into consideration the underlying causes of your condition as well as other factors like age, lifestyle habits and health history.

With patience, guidance from healthcare professionals and determination one can recover from hypervigilance and find peace and serenity.

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