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Unapologetically Sensitive

We explore how sensitivity weaves itself into our lives; the richness that it adds, and the strengths we have BECAUSE of our sensitivity--and some of the challenges it poses as well. You may learn to live a bolder, brighter life.

Jun 30, 2020


A Research Scientist Shares How HSPs can Regulate Their Depression, Anxiety, and Negative Thinking


Jadzia Jagiellowicz, Ph.D.


Dr. Jadzia Jagiellowicz has been a scientific researcher for over 15 years, and she conducts research on HSPs. She has studied the biological basis of temperament. She talks about the relationship between depression and HSPs; why HSPs may ruminate about negative things, and what to do when we imagine the worst-case-scenario. Dr. Jagiellowicz talks about being socially awkward and being a deep thinker. We also break down what happens with COVID-19, when people don’t honor our need for social distancing.


  • Dr. Jagiellowicz has studied the biological basis of temperament
  • She also helps people learn how to regulate bodily sensations and emotions
  • Researchers found 2 types of genes
  • Serotonin transporter
  • 8 different types of dopamine genes (10 genetic polymorphisms)
  • It is rarely that just one gene is tied to one function—instead it is a constellation of genes
  • The candidate gene— serotonin transporter—is related to depression
  • Children that had poor childhoods (the parents/caregivers did not know what the Highly Sensitive Children needed to thrive) show higher rates of depression for HSPs
  • As HSPs learn about the trait, they feel better
  • The Default Mode Network which can be seen in brain scans—this is what happens when you’re not consciously thinking about things—you are just aware in the present moment
    • Research suggests that the default mode network is on when we are not thinking about anything in particular i.e. daydreaming; it is suppressed when we are working on a particular task
  • HSPs are constantly taking in details from their environment (we process more)
    • This is often linked to past history of negative things
  • We can do 2 things about this—
    • Talk back to the negative thoughts
      • Write down (in a few sentences) the facts of the situation that caused your negative thoughts and feelings
      • Write down your thoughts and feelings
      • Talk back
        • That was then, this is now
        • Don’t make your own predictions
        • Look at possibilities not probabilities
      • Calm down bodily sensations—just stay with it
        • EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques or tapping)
        • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing)
        • Tai Chi
        • Meditation
        • Working with a specialist
      • If you look at a Highly Sensitive Baby who is exposed to a Jack-in-the-Box, and it scares them, the infant stores the fear in their body
      • Our bodies have stored fears (tenseness of muscles, neck, visceral organs, stomach, etc.)
      • When something reminds you of something fearful, your brain/body has stored past fearful memories
      • If your boss calls you in
        • If you don’t have past negative experiences, you won’t have a reaction
        • If you have past negative experiences, you might start worrying about why you are being called in
      • We store things more intensely in memory because we have more intense emotions than less-sensitive people (the negative interpretations are stored as a package of bodily sensations and the thoughts that go with them
      • Research shows :
        • Depressed people when they given a negative word, they will retrieve other negative words from their memory
        • Non-depressed people when given a negative word, will retrieve positive AND negative words from memory
      • HSPs are more affected by environment, but we can control our reaction to our environment
      • Research into temperament looked at infants who were 6 months old—inhibited babies and highly reactive babies
        • Highly Sensitive infants reacted differently than NON-Highly Sensitive infants
      • Highly Sensitive Parents may be more in-tune with their HS children
      • Your level of sensitivity will change your ability to get along in the environment 
      • 3 types of Sensitive People (and no HSP is exactly the same)
        • Low sensitive
        • Medium sensitive
        • High sensitive
      • Being detail oriented, having deeper processing and empathy can cause problems if one is not able to figure out what part of these traits are helpful—especially in the workplace
        • Imagine we’re in a foreign country, so we’re learning a whole new way of being
      • HSPs can benefit when we “remember our audience” 
  • COVID-19
    • We can slow down
    • Use our analysis and judgement
    • We are taking in a lot of information, and we’re looking for signs of danger—this can lead to overwhelm
    • If we can remember to use our gift of compassion it will help
    • Most people are attuned to the negative but HSPs are born with a heightened sense of vigilance
  • Every HSP is different
    • How much they can deal with and where to draw boundaries
    • How important is it for you to fit in (and to accept the consequences)
    • Jagiellowicz believes HSPs are more different from each other than non-HSPs, since each HSP is more affected by whatever environment they were exposed to
  • This is where the intersection of being an HSP and environment come into play
    • In a study using the Parental Bonding Inventory, which measures/assesses how people think they were parented, the key things that parents did which harmed their HSP children
      • Overintrusiveness
      • Neglect


BA in Psychology and Business Administration

Bed in Education

Phd in Psychology

Jadzia Jagiellowicz worked as a management consultant and as an educator. As an educator she taught and coached intellectually gifted students and provided consulting services to other teachers

Later in life Dr. Jagiellowicz completed her Ph.D. in Psychology at Stony Brook University in Long Island, NY under the supervision of Elaine Aron.  Dr. Jagiellowicz has spent the past 15 years as a scientific researcher investigating high sensitivity (called sensory processing sensitivity in the scientific literature). She also studied molecular biology (genetics) at Smith University in Massachusetts.

She provides individual coaching for HSPs through web-based and phone consultations to clients world-wide and also conducts scientific research on HSPs, including the first-ever research scanning HSPs’ brains. One of her specialty areas is how the biological part of being an HSP interacts with an HSP’s childhood and how that affects HSPs as adults.  


Patricia Young works with Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) helping them to understand their HSP traits, and turning their perceived shortcomings into superpowers. Patricia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who is passionate about providing education to help HSPs and non-HSPs understand and truly appreciate the amazing gifts they have to offer. Patricia works globally online with HSPs providing coaching. Patricia also facilitates online groups for HSPs that focus on building community and developing skills (identifying your superpowers, boundaries, perfectionism, dealing with conflict, mindfulness, embracing emotions, creating a lifestyle that supports the HSP, communication and more).


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The Highly Sensitive Brain: Research, Assessment, and Treatment of Sensory Processing Sensitivity edited by Bianca Acevedo, Ph.D. 

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