Emotional allergies in ADD and sensitivity: the hypersensitive nervous system

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Emotional allergies in ADD and sensitivity: the hypersensitive nervous system
Have you ever heard of emotional allergies? A hypersensitive nervous system plays an important role in this. This article explains what emotional allergies are and why especially ADD people can suffer from them. Finally, you will find an exercise to discover your emotional allergy and tips to protect you.

Children with ADD are more likely to suffer from colds, upper respiratory tract infections, ear infections, asthma, eczema and allergies than children who do not have ADD.

‘Dinner time. The eight-year-old daughter calmly takes the time to put her toys aside. ‘Hurry up. We’d like to eat,” says her father, tense because he is hungry and busy at work. My daughter covers her ears with her hands. “Don’t yell at me like that,” she complains. “I’m not yelling,” her father replies, hearing himself raise his voice. The child’s face betrays pain and despair. “Mommy, Daddy is being mean to me,” she cries.

If the decibels in that kitchen had been measured the first time the father told his daughter to hurry up, most people wouldn’t have experienced it as yelling. The daughter’s reaction is, however, genuine. She picks up the tension in her father’s voice, she also feels and experiences that tension, and the same goes for his suppressed impatience and frustration.

 That is translated in her brain as ‘screaming’. She feels exactly the same fear and indignation that any other child would feel when yelled at him or in an angry way. This is due to the child’s sensitivity and how strongly she reacts to her environment. This child is hypersensitive to emotions.’

Sensitivity

Emotional allergies in ADD and sensitivity: the hypersensitive nervous system

Humanity benefits from the existence of sensitive people.

The word ‘sensitivity’ is derived from the Latin word sensor, ‘to feel’. Three meanings from dictionaries are useful to keep in mind because they very aptly describe the ADD:

  1. Highly receptive to or directly affected by external stimuli or mental impressions.
  2. Easily offended or emotionally hurt.
  3. (As of an instrument) reacts quickly to small changes and notices small changes quickly.

The word also has another connotation, which is to be empathetic and respectful of other people’s feelings. The two meanings can coexist in the same person, but not in all cases. Some people who are very sensitive in their response to stimuli pay the least attention to other people’s feelings.

Hypersensitive body

Emotional allergies in ADD and sensitivity: the hypersensitive nervous system

Some people are hyper-reactive. A relatively negligible stimulus, or at least one that seems negligible to other people, elicits an intense response in them. If someone shows such a reaction to physical stimuli, we say that he or she is allergic.

For example, someone who is allergic to bee venom could be in danger of life. A non-allergic person would experience only a brief sting, a bump, and an irritating itch with a sting. Did the bee sting send the first victim into a physiological crisis? Not directly. It was his or her own physiological responses that brought this person close to death. More precisely, it was the combination of a stimulus and the response to it. The medical term for an allergy, for this hyper-reactivity, is hypersensitivity.

ADD and Emotional Allergies

People with ADD are hypersensitive. It’s their innate temperament. This susceptibility, and therefore not a disorder, is passed on through genetic inheritance. In most cases, ADD is caused by the influence of the environment on highly sensitive infants.

The susceptibility of children with ADD is also why allergies are more common in them than in the rest of the population. Children with ADD are more likely to suffer from colds, upper respiratory tract infections, ear infections, asthma, eczema, and allergies than children who do not have ADD.

Since emotionally hypersensitive reactions are just as physiological in nature as the body’s allergic reactions to physical substances, we can safely say that people with ADD have emotional allergies.

Almost any parent with a child who has ADD, or any adult who has a partner with ADD, will have noticed that the child or partner is touchy and not thick-skinned. People with ADD always get it thrown at them that they are ‘too sensitive or that they shouldn’t be ‘so touchy’. But then you might as well tell a child with hay fever that it should not be ‘so allergic’.

More sensitive nervous system

Emotional allergies in ADD and sensitivity: the hypersensitive nervous system

You can explain differences in emotional reactivity because there are physiological differences between the nervous systems of different people. In some children, the nervous system is always in a state of alert. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle measured the electrical activity of an important nerve, the vagus nerve, in five-month-old babies.

(The vagus nerve connects the central nervous system to the heart, lungs, and stomach.) Babies with a higher vagus nerve “base tone” “also showed a stronger emotional response to both positive and somewhat stressful stimuli.” When these children were 14 months old, they also showed a stronger emotional response when separated from their mothers.

Sensitive children, like highly sensitive devices, register even the smallest changes in their emotional environment. They have no choice in that. Their nervous system responds. It is as if they have invisible antennae pointing in all directions and picking up the psychic radiation which is then channeled through their bodies and minds. They are usually not aware of this. Unlike instruments, you can’t switch off people’s ‘sensory equipment so easily.

Abdominal cramps as a signal

Abdominal cramps in sensitive children often indicate unresolved tensions within the family. They are common and all too often misinterpreted. These are the kids who turn pale from “unexplained” stomachaches and are dragged from doctor to doctor, where they are declared “perfectly healthy” every time. The parents are told that there is no identifiable cause of the pain. But there is. Their child’s body is a barometer of the tensions within the family.

The important contribution of sensitive people to society

Emotional allergies in ADD and sensitivity: the hypersensitive nervous system

Humanity benefits from the existence of sensitive people, as this group best expresses humanity’s creative urges and needs. The world is best interpreted through their intuitive responses. Under normal circumstances, they are artists or craftsmen, seekers, inventors, shamans, poets, and prophets. Then there would be valid and compelling evolutionary reasons for the survival of genetic material underlying susceptibility.

This is not about diseases that are inherited, but about a property that has an intrinsic value for human survival. The sensitivity only leads to distress and disturbance in a world in which one is unable to heed the finely tuned physiological and psychological responses of sensitive people. ADD is not a natural condition.

Exercise: What Are Your Emotional Allergies?

Did this article ring any bells in your head? Maybe you feel better understood now that you know your sensitivity isn’t weird? Then take a moment to write down what has brought you recognition. For example, think about what your emotional allergies might be. What affects you the most? What or who makes you react violently? When are you or do you react extra sensitive? Are you helping yourself enough to cope with the stimuli and the emotional allergies? Or do you mainly blame yourself for your reactions?

You can also take the time to protect yourself from all the stimuli that come in and give your body some rest.

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