Are You a Highly Sensitive Person? You might have ADRA2b like me.

Goggle “emotional sensitivity” and you’ll find tons (well maybe not tons, but a lot) of articles, books, survival guides on how to overcome “being so sensitive”.   

About 1 in 5  fit the HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) profile.  I currently rate a 12 1/2 out of 16 traits below.  When I was younger it was 16 out of 16.  (Interestingly, artists and therapists seem to fit this profile in larger numbers than the general population . . . hmmm)

Fragile Fleur by judy

Fragile Fleur by judy

It’s baaaaaaaad:  I cry at dog food commercials and can’t tolerate anything that has a hint of violence.

My husband prefers “blow’em up – shoot ’em dead – stab ’em hard” for his watching pleasure.  He reminds me that it’s “not real” as I lock him in his room so I can’t see or hear what he’s watching.  I watch HGTV House Hunters International, preferring my suspense and intrigue to trying to guess which house the couple will buy.

However, rather than label myself as a “Highly Sensitive Person”, I prefer to think of myself as a fragile flower . . . so much more feminine.    


Here are 16 HSP traits.  If you want to read more about each click here

  1. They feel more deeply.
  2. They’re more emotionally reactive.
  3. They’re probably used to hearing, “Don’t take things so personally” and “Why are you so sensitive?”
  4. They prefer to exercise solo.
  5. It takes longer for them to make decisions.
  6. They are more upset if they make a “bad” or “wrong” decision.
  7. They notice details.
  8. Not all highly sensitive people are introverts.
  9. They work well in team environments.
  10. They’re more prone to anxiety or depression (but only if they’ve had a lot of past negative experiences).
  11. That annoying sound is probably significantly more annoying to a highly sensitive person.
  12. Violent movies are the worst.
  13. They cry more easily.
  14. They have above-average manners.
  15. The effects of criticism are especially amplified in highly sensitive people.
  16. They prefer solo work environments.


The good news! I no longer have to read up on how to overcome, minimize, explain or justify my emotional sensitivity because I must have a ADRA2b gene.

(Now I can blame my mother for my sensitivity – aren’t mothers always the ones who get the credit for how we turn out . . .  or the blame?)

Genes might explain differences in how we experience emotions

“Your genes may influence how sensitive you are to emotional information, according to new research by a UBC neuroscientist. The study, recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly, and had heightened activity in certain brain regions.”

“People really do see the world differently,” says lead author Rebecca Todd, a professor in UBC’s Department of Psychology. “For people with this gene variation, the emotionally relevant things in the world stand out much more.”

“The gene in question is ADRA2b, which influences the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Previous research by Todd found that carriers of a deletion variant of this gene showed greater attention to negative words. Her latest research is the first to use brain imaging to find out how the gene affects how vividly people perceive the world around them, and the results were startling.”

"Fragile flower . . . I think WUSS may be closer to the truth . . "

“Fragile flower?  HSP? . . . I think she’s just plain melodramatic. . “

Genetic Literacy Project

This post first appeared in 2015 on Curious to the Max

16 comments on “Are You a Highly Sensitive Person? You might have ADRA2b like me.

  1. I can’t watch horror films – at all – ever – but wait – how do you define “horror”? Because maybe I’m not giving fair consideration to a film that you find dramatic or even melodramatic or merely sensitive to monsters. Perhaps I should reconsider. I may have made the wrong decision. How much time do I have left to decide? I already suffer from nightmares – this might increase my nightmare experiences. Please don’t be angry with me – I’m really trying to do the right thing here.

    Oh wait…


    • Mama Cormier,
      It is good that you leave the room and take care of yourself!! Being sensitive is often an advantage, sometimes not. I don’t like exposing my brain to a lot of negativity. I can remember reading a book that had awful images in it, and couldn’t forget the images afterwards, so I am careful!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a “14” (wish I was 14 again, but only if I could know what I know now) and volunteer to watch hit ’em blast ’em stab ’em tv with your husband, I’ll bring the popcorn.


  3. Yup this is me…13 out of 16. Cannot tolerate violence and especially not cruelty to animals. I absorb other peoples energy. It is why I love nature and hate crowded places or parties.

    I have been “diagnosed” as being an empath and have seen a hypnotherapist in the past who helped me create a “shield” from negative energy. Another thing that helps me is Qi Gong which changes the energy around you, massage, meditation and yoga. Music helps too…both playing an instrument and listening to one.

    Very interesting post!



    • Peta,
      Thank you for sharing some ways to help the highly sensitive to stay positive and comfortable. having a “shield” from negative energy can help anyone. I will have to learn about Qi Gong!!


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