What is it?

Hypervigilance is a state of increased alertness. If a patient is in a state of hypervigilance, he extremely sensitive to the surroundings. It can make him feel like he's alert to any hidden dangers, whether from other people or the environment. Often, though, these dangers are not real.
Hypervigilance can be a symptom of mental health conditions, including:
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
anxiety disorders
schizophrenia
These can all cause the brain and the body to constantly be on high alert. Hypervigilance can have a negative effect on life. It can affect how you interact with and view others, or it may encourage paranoia.

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Signs & symptoms

There are physical, behavioral, emotional, and mental symptoms that can go with hypervigilance:
Physical symptoms:
Physical symptoms may resemble those of anxiety. These may include:
* sweating
* a fast heart rate
* fast, shallow breathing
* Over time, this constant state of alertness can cause fatigue and exhaustion.

Behavioral symptoms:
Behavioral symptoms include jumpy reflexes and fast, knee-jerk reactions to your environment. If you’re hypervigilant, you may overreact if you hear a loud bang or if you misunderstand a coworker’s statement as rude. These reactions may be violent or hostile in a perceived attempt to defend yourself.

Emotional symptoms:
The emotional symptoms of hypervigilance can be severe. These can include:
* increased, severe anxiety
* fear
* panic
* worrying that can become persistent
You may fear judgment from others, or you may judge others extremely harshly. This may develop into black-and-white thinking in which you find things either absolutely right or absolutely wrong. You can also become emotionally withdrawn. You may experience mood swings or outbursts of emotion.

Mental symptoms:
Mental symptoms of hypervigilance can include paranoia. This may be accompanied by rationalization to justify the hypervigilance. It can also be difficult for those who experience frequent hypervigilance, like those with PTSD, to sleep well.

Long-term symptoms:
If you experience recurring hypervigilance, you may start to develop behaviors to calm your anxiety or counteract perceived threats. If you fear assault or danger, for example, you may start carrying a concealed weapon. If you have severe social anxiety, you may rely on day dreaming or non-participation in events. These symptoms can result in social isolation and damaged relationships.

Diagnosis

The attending psychiatrist will be able to diagnose you through a conversation and examination

Treatment

To treat hypervigilance, the doctor will determine the underlying cause of the condition. Treatment may be different depending on what’s causing it. You’ll likely be referred to a therapist or psychiatrist.
* Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is often effective at helping to treat anxiety. In these sessions, you’ll talk about your past experiences as well as your current problems and fears. Your therapist will guide these conversations. Your therapist can help you identify what causes your hypervigilance and how to deal with it.
* Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy can be helpful if you have PTSD. Exposure therapy allows you to safely face fears and memories of trauma slowly so that you can learn how to manage the flashbacks and anxiety.
* Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR combines exposure therapy with guided eye movements. This can ultimately change how you react to traumatic memories

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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