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And as neuroscience jouranlist Maia Szalavitz points out in a Reuters blog post, childhood bullying -- which at its core involves elements of rejection and ostracism -- has been linked with depression rates, crime and reduced employment.IDENTIFYING THE HARDEST-HIT Everyone is sensitive to rejection, to a point.For instance, she says, if a rejection-sensitive person is having a conversation where he experiences rejection, he may stop paying attention during the rest of the interaction because he's become so preoccupied with the rejection."They're trying to think about 'How can I get myself out of this situation?
"We start with this high volume of negative self-talk and criticism that takes the rejection to another level," he says.
As Winch points out, self-esteem plays an important role.
"Research says that people whose self-esteem is lower will experience rejection as more painful, and it'll take them a little longer to get over it," he says.
"When people are sensitive to rejection they tend to avoid a situation in which they can experience it," which then puts them at a higher risk for loneliness, Winch says.
"They are more at risk for developing anxiety around social situations because the more we avoid something, the more anxious it makes us." A real-world example: A rejection-sensitive person who has a strong desire to find a significant other may decide to give online dating a try.
A small study from University of Michigan Medical School researchers also showed that the brain's mu-opioid receptor system releases natural painkillers, or opioids, in response to social pain.