Your friends are constantly telling you to not be so emotional and to not think so much.

You try to do as they say, but you can’t seem to turn off these thoughts, feelings, and emotions. They seem to just be who you are. They’re part of your personality.

Despite loving your friends and hanging out with them, you constantly need alone time after hanging out with them. Sometimes, you’d rather hang out in your room by yourself than go out with them, even if they’re doing an activity that you love.

You seem to be way more sensitive to your surroundings than your friends and family as well. The light in your classroom or work bothers you. And sounds and smells seem to be stronger to you than to others.

After some research, you’ve learned about empaths and highly sensitive people. A lot of the traits and qualities of each are very similar to one another. So, how are you supposed to know if you’re an empath or a highly sensitive person?

What are the differences between a highly sensitive person (HSP) and an empath?

What is a Highly Sensitive Person?

A highly sensitive person (HSP) is someone that processes things more deeply compared to the average person. Highly sensitive people experience an increased sensitivity to emotional, physical, or social stimuli.

Here are some of the most common traits among highly sensitive people:

  • Ability to read the emotions of others
  • Creative
  • Difficulty letting go
  • Easily startled and overwhelmed
  • Enthusiastic
  • Experiences emotions very intensely
  • Feels uncomfortable in loud or crowded places
  • Heightened response
  • Intuitive

What is an Empath?

Empaths are people who show a lot of empathy toward other people.

As an empath, you take things further than just being able to connect with others in the way that a highly sensitive person is able to do. As an empath, you have the ability to sense and actually feel the emotions of others. You take on others’ emotions as your own.

For example, if someone is feeling happy, you may feel happy. If someone is experiencing pain, you also experience the pain the individual is feeling.

Here are some of the most common traits among empaths:

  • Ability to absorb other people’s emotions and feelings
  • Givers, sometimes too much
  • Highly sensitive and intuitive
  • Intimate relationships can overwhelm them
  • Need constant alone time to rest and recharge, especially in nature
  • Tend to be introverted

The Differences

When it comes to being an empath versus a highly sensitive person, there isn’t a right one, a wrong one, a better or a worse one. They’re just two different traits that people can have.

One of the main differences between a highly sensitive person and an empath is that all empaths are highly sensitive people but not all highly sensitive people are empaths. Empaths have the ability that highly sensitive people do, just on a deeper level. Empaths share a lot of similar traits to a highly sensitive person, but on top of those traits, they’re also able to feel the energy of others.

Next Steps

Whether you’re an empath or a highly sensitive person, you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. With anything in life, being a highly sensitive person or an empath has both positives and negatives.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to cope and deal with being an empath or a highly sensitive person, reach out to us today to set up a consultation.

We can work with you to help you find ways to better manage all of the thoughts, emotions, and feelings you may be experiencing on a daily basis. Anxiety therapy can help you work through these issues.

About the author(s)

Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.

About Cohesive Therapy NYC

At Cohesive Therapy NYC, we believe that you have an immense amount of inner strength and resilience, even if it is yet to be discovered. Cohesive Therapy NYC is a private group psychotherapy practice in New York City that focuses on treating adults who struggle with Anxiety, Trauma, Chronic Illness, and the adult impact of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Cohesive Therapy NYC therapists see clients all throughout New York State (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, and statewide) using online therapy and are also available for in-person visits in their NYC offices, located at 59 East 54th Street, New York, NY 10022. We specialize in helping people who are dealing with anxiety, relationship issues, chronic illness, and digestive and adult trauma related to childhood family dynamics. We all deserve a chance to be well and have support.