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The Hidden Effects of Being a Highly Sensitive Person or Empath on Your Daily Life

A woman looking at the ocean

In my practice, I often work with individuals who identify as being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) or an empath. The term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) was coined by psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron in the 1990s to describe individuals who are more sensitive to sensory and emotional stimuli than others. Around the same time, psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff popularized the term empath to describe individuals, who in addition to having high sensory and emotional sensitivity, also have a tendency to feel and absorb the emotions of others. Dr. Aron estimated the number of HSPs to be around 15–20% of the population, while the latest available research estimates the number for empaths to be around 1–2%.

HSPs and empaths often have many wonderful qualities. They are often caring, compassionate, and are excellent listeners. They tend to be highly observant of the world around them, have a strong sense of intuition, and are perceptive and insightful. Many are creative and tend to think deeply.

However, HSPs and empaths also experience challenges due to their sensitivities: