The Ups and Downs of Emotionally Sensitive People

Dr. Paula Durlofsky offers four tips for creating balance.

We all feel emotionally overwhelmed at one time or another. The intensity usually reflects the circumstances we’re faced with—like the death of a loved one, loss of a job, illness or divorce. But some people get overwhelmed by their emotions, whether positive or negative. And the intensity often causes them to react in ways that don’t reflect the reality of the circumstances.

Highly sensitive people tend to reflect on things more than usual, and they worry about how others feel or think about them. They also tend to be more upset over mistakes. They’re extremely detail-oriented, lament over making decisions, and are more prone to depression, anxiety and social withdrawal.

Being emotionally sensitive is not, however, a bad trait. The ability to feel deeply is what allows artists to create masterpieces, authors to write meaningful stories and musicians to play beautiful music. Being emotionally sensitive means we can experience the joys and sorrows of life fully.

Nonetheless, it’s important for the highly sensitive person to work on creating emotional balance. Here are four tips:

1. Explore your sensitivity.
Gain an understanding of its source. Perhaps you feel more sensitive toward a particular person or in a particular social setting. Exploring the details that stir up your emotions helps identify what you need to change to lower your emotional responses.

2. Identify what sets off your sensitivity.
Keeping a journal can help with clarifying triggers—and with gaining a more realistic view of the situations that contribute to your emotional sensitivity.

3. Embrace your emotional sensitivity.
Acceptance is a big step in modulating intense feelings.

4. Seek professional help if your sensitivity causes too much distress.
Therapy can help you develop new ways of thinking and relating to others.


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About This Blog

Dr. Paula Durlofsky is a psychologist in private practice in Bryn Mawr, whose practice focuses on psychological issues affecting individuals, couples, and families.

Dr. Durlofsky treats a wide variety of disorders and has a special interest in issues affecting women. She is affiliated with Bryn Mawr Hospital, Lankenau Hospital, the Women's Resource Center in Wayne, and the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. In addition to her practice, Dr. Durlofsky is a workshop facilitator and blogger. 

If you have questions or feedback for Dr. Durlofsky, please don't hesitate to reach out to her via email at

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