Hypervigilance is an individual’s heightened awareness to threat or potential threats in their surroundings. Living with hypervigilance can be exhausting, causing individuals to constantly be on alert or perceive threats when they are not there. Hypervigilance can manifest as withdrawing from social situations, concealing one’s identity or constantly scanning environments for perceived threats.
People from historically marginalised backgrounds often develop hypervigilance due to chronic exposure to stigma, discrimination and violence. The cumulative negative mental health effects on marginalised people as a result of their identity is known as “minority stress”, and it is particularly common in individuals who have multiple intersectional marginalised identities.