Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Are You Highly Sensitive?

In my video post I mentioned Elaine Aron’s book, “The Highly Sensitive Person.” I advise all depressives to read it, because most of you are going to be highly sensitive (which is not a bad thing at all). I was explaining to this older man I met in a coffee shop about how I get frazzled so easily, and distracted, and that I really needed to be outside for an hour or more a day or else I go, well, crazy.

He told me about this book, and it’s been so helpful in moments like Toys-R-Us, when I realize that I’m just over-aroused (not sexually–I don’t think that’s possible on Zoloft), and I just need to dial it down a bit.


Here is a test to determine whether or not you are highly sensitive.

Answer each question according to the way you feel. Answer true if it is at least somewhat true for you. Answer false if it is not very true or not at all true for you.

I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment.

Other people’s moods affect me.

I tend to be very sensitive to pain.

I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.

I’m particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by.


I have a rich, complex inner life.

I am made uncomfortable by loud noises.

I am deeply moved by the arts of music.

I am conscientious.

I startle easily.

I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.

When people are uncomfortable in a physical environment I tend to know what needs to be done to make it more comfortable (like changing the lighting or the seating).

I am annoyed when people try to get me to do too many things at once.

I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.

I make it a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows.

I become unpleasantly aroused when a lot of going on around me.

Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood.


Changes in my life shake me up.

I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art.

I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.

When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.

When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy.

Scoring Yourself: If you answered true to twelve or more of the questions, you’re probably highly sensitive.

But frankly, no psychological test is so accurate that you should base your life on it. If only one or two questions are true of you but they are extremely true, you might also be justified in calling yourself highly sensitive.

I’ll discuss Aron’s book and highly sensitive people again tomorrow.

  • tarsha devoe

    This is me..I am so sensitive I can answer yes to almost but one or two. So with all this it bad? or is just I’m more intuned then others?

  • Faith

    Enjoyed your survey. I’m definitely highly-sensitive; but in being so, I have found that others react to me (at times) as if I have a disability. This wasn’t the case when I was younger; but it is making me depressed by others reactions when they react to my being highly sensitive. others seem to not know the difference between someone being highly sensitive and someone having a disability. Supposedly I have an above-average intelligence (or that is what the tests I’ve had provide); but I am just frustrated that others react so negative to me.
    Thanks again for your survey.

  • sue

    Oh my gosh, I am so glad to find, that I’m not alone being this way. I am highly sensitive. I have answered yes to all but one or two. I cry just trying to have a common day sometimes. Please tell me what to do to help myself. I been this way for years. In results of this, I tend to stay to myself alot and find it difficult to talk to others. I’m very lonly and I want to stop wearing my heart on the outside so often. Thank you for the survey.

  • Jackie Coviello

    I Knew I was highly sensitive, just at the
    way my body trembles when somthing is not right.
    My big problem is, my children mostly,
    and other’s think I make my self cry when talking
    and trying to have a conversation.
    The tears just flow out uncontrollably.
    My children do not discuss anything with me
    due to this. Any answers, or help?
    I answered all but 2 on the test.

  • WillM

    I answered “true” to EVERY question. Life has gotten to me so much I even attempted suicide, by bullet to my mouth, in 2004. I still have, but am coping,with HSP, through websites such as this. I’m through with pills, professional counseling and habit forming doctors.

  • Patti D

    I guess the question is…where do we go from here?

  • corey

    I only checked half, I think, but then I’ve had alot of therapy. Since, other ones are really,really true, though, I have no doubt…
    I especially relate to Faith’s comment about being viewed as somehow “off” or “left of center” (as if that’s a bad thing :-) For example, I can be at a function, and if I see someone looking lost and alone, I may comment to whoever is near me and suggest we go mingle with him or her; but the “suggestee” often looks at me as if I’m ADD and need to focus on the event and not the people in it. Doesn’t it make you wonder who’s really the one who’s odd here?

  • D. Valori

    Isn’t HSP a facet of the multi-faceted Depression, as it usually hasother facets such as ADD, PTSD, Anxiety, Panic attacks?
    I’ve known I was HSP since I was 8, but never heard a name for it, just thought I was like my mother and sister looked down upon me and saying “You’re just TOO sensitive. Get over it!”
    1st time I noticed my sensitivities was when I was about 8 and my mother spanked either my brother or my sister and I was in another room, but I cried and got angry with my mom right along with them-no, didn’t dare say anything to her.
    Teachers may havve noticed sensitivity, but never expressed anything about it, aside from giving me praise on my classwork. I’ve cried over “chick flicks”/emotional movies- some intended as humor, but was distorted into an insult to some people, such as me. I cried when Dan Blocker (Big guy on Ponderosa tv show), James Arness (Sheriff on another tv show), Bob Hope, moreso I cried at his passing because he was a lot of peoples connection to their stateside families when there were wars going on, he was also a sorely needed distraction (with the ladies to look at and his jokes) from same wars. I grieved for their passing not only for their passing and our loss of them, but they were a HUMONGOUS connection to my non-emotion displaying, expressing dad, the relationship I saw on tv, but never had.. And Mom and Dad were surprised when I went out of state a few weeks within the graduation date. I couldn’t seem to please them, (I thought, as demonstrated by their lack of affection, praise)while I was home,so I shot out to try get them to show their pleasure, ride, love in me by “landing me ‘a big one’, Prince Charming”. That wasn’t as easy as tv had shown me either, and with no parent to teach otherwise, encourage, discourage, interrelate with me, it ended up a long tour of The School of Hard Knocks, “Graduated Suma cum laude”, eventually married a frog ..
    divorced in1/87- no Prince yet, maybe God is still working on him, me, only He knows.

  • courtney Lont

    TARSHA J. Devoe! If that’s you please email me, Courtney!…

  • DeeDee

    Well I’ve answered yes to 18, I’ve knew I was highly sensitive ever since my depression started,people keep showing this to me and truthfully I hadn’t noticed before. I go into crying, short but intensive axiety attacks, shortness of breath, start to shake, cold sweats etc…But I didn’t know how sensitive I was, I thought it was just my depression. and now??

  • Ameksy

    Wow, I thought I was highly sensitive, but this test proves that I’m not. I guess I was believing that I was highly sensitive because that’s what people always led me to believe. I now realize that they came to that conclusion because I used to get upset easily. I just had a very low tolerance for stupidity and I thought that people should know some things when they get to a certain age. I pretty much wanted people to act in a certain way, mainly because I acted that way and I thought it was “normal” I realized after that some people just aren’t smart or witty as others. And some just don’t have common sense or if they do have it, it is very little. I’m not blaming other people, but they play a big part. I’m a little more tolerant now, I try not to get so upset when a loved one displays their lack of commom sense and maturity. It’s not always easy, but then again life itselt is not meant to be easy.
    To all of you that are HSP, I hope you get to find the help you need. I will keep you in my prayers.

  • Gloria Burd

    I scored a 20! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who feels the way I do, and that I’m not going crazy. Whew.

  • best rated condom

    Honesty, integrity and a persuasive mentality are the most important qualities of an elected official

  • sleep

    Life is designed by some sort of intelligence, God created life

  • Katherine Stone

    This is me and my son … UGH.

  • Fran

    Therese, thank you so much for today’s post. I answered yes to all of the questions. Now I can make sense of a few things that I have never understood. I think I am going out to find that book immediately! All my life people have told me I am “too thin-skinned” and to “get over it”. I’ve always felt like there was something wrong with the way I am and needed to change. This came at a perfect time for me, as yesterday I had a major meltdown emotionally. It has just been a tough year in every area of my life and things were coming at me too fast and furiously and I couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to just run away… I see now that I was really very over-stimulated and this happens to me a lot. Thanks again so much! I see some hope here…

  • Cody

    Well i scored 16 of them but I’m a guy so acting in this manner is difficult guys simply can’t be reclusive and anti-social without warranting some type of negative attention I’ve always been sure that other felt like i do but this to me is a personal flaw or weakness because I simply cannot utilize these traits to my advantage so I’m left with feelings of hopelessness nonetheless I hope this may help someone else

  • Your Name

    i am very very sensitive and ppl have been very cruel to me. i am being maliciously prosecuted right now and have no home and am chronically being abused by ppl. i am so sick with fear and rage. i really don’t want to live anymore. my life could be movie of the century. i wish it was happening to somebody else instead of me. with no family or friends and in the most cruel place in the world, i doubt that i’ll survive. los angeles county and nearby is the most horrible hell hole and evil place in the world. i really wish i was never born. lost my country. and i give up. i gave up hope already. sometimes it’s better to die than to be tortured by a very very cruel society.

  • Sarah Correa

    I just wanted to say that I was delighted to see this book mentioned on this site, as I discovered it a few months ago and found out that I am indeed ‘highly sensitive.’ As I read through the pages of Elaine Aron’s book, a lightbulb went off. Especially when Aron spoke in detail about how sensitive people feel and what they can do to function or make life a little more manageable. I highly recommend this book and if it doesn’t fully define you, I am sure that you will be able to recognize one person in your life whom is ‘highly sensitive.’

  • Cully

    I’m just wondering how, “i am very very sensitive and ppl have been very cruel to me” relates to the 12 questions above. I have the luxury of being able to take the time to look at what’s happening and look for some type of logic, but what of the person who does not have that luxury?

  • Jenna, Author, Help Is On Its Way

    Because high sensitivity is so hard to explain to people, I wrote Help Is On Its Way to explain to the mainstream culture what it truly feels like growing up wanting to save the world and but needing to save yourself and develop your intuitive gifts. The book offers much needed validation to the 50 million Americans alone who have the trait of high sensitivity. It also offers hope. There is more on my website. Please visit!

  • paul

    To the Nov. 17 poster who had given up: I hope your life has seen a sudden reversal and you no longer feel such despair. And if not, try to remember those moments when you were convinced the world was on your side — when the universe was hopelessly in love with you — and try to feel and know again that your cries are being heard and felt in the deepest possible way.

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