• Michelle Barsky

What’s the Difference Between a Highly Sensitive Person and an Empath?


Do you ever feel as if your thoughts and feelings are discounted because you are “too sensitive”? Are people always telling you to “suck it up”? Do large gatherings drain you? Receiving this sort of negative feedback over the years may have made you ashamed of being sensitive, or have taught you to not share your feelings with other people.


If the above traits resonate with you, you may fall somewhere on the spectrum of an emotional empath or a highly sensitive person. Although it may not always feel like it, possessing these traits is hugely beneficial. To learn more about these traits and how they may affect you, keep reading.

What is a highly sensitive person?

A highly sensitive person, or HSP, is someone who feels emotions more deeply than the average person. They also process their external environment, such as physical or social stimuli, more slowly than the average person. Although they may be described as “too sensitive,” feeling so deeply is a huge benefit in many ways.


Some positives of being an HSP include:

  • Recognizing beauty: Being sensitive means that beautiful sights or displays of emotion are incredibly moving to you. You may cry after watching an emotional video or hearing a beautiful song.

  • Having meaningful relationships: Feeling so deeply is an incredible asset in relationships with friends and family. You can celebrate their successes with them almost as if they were your own.

  • Increased gratitude for your life: HSPs can enjoy and appreciate a beautiful sunset or a delicious meal much more than most people. These emotions translate into the rest of your life as well.

What is an empath?

Being an empath goes far beyond experiencing simple empathy. As an empath, you are so attuned to the world around you; you begin to pick up other people’s emotions and feel them as if they are your own.


These emotions you pick up on are deep and impactful and can be overwhelming. You must discern the emotions of others from your own emotions. Being around people for long periods of time or being in high-stress environments may make emotionally drain you.


Despite the challenges that arise from being an empath, there are many positives as well. These positives are just like the ones that HSPs experience, such as increased gratitude and meaningful relationships.


How to tell if you’re an empath


In order to tell if you are an empath, there are various tests you can take. To do a preliminary check, as yourself these questions. You should take certain precautions to protect your mental health if you are an empath or HSP.

  • Do you often feel emotionally drained?

  • Have people told you that you are too sensitive?

  • Do you become overwhelmed in crowded spaces?

  • Would people describe you as empathetic?

Emotional spectrum

As stated above, being an empath exists on a spectrum. On one end, there is being an empath, where you feel everything very deeply and even take on others’ emotions. The other end of the spectrum is where everything you feel is centered around yourself. An HSP falls in between these two, leaning closer toward an empath.


Feeling big emotions as an HSP or empath can be difficult to deal with. Speaking to an unbiased, trained professional may help you feel more comfortable in expressing your true emotions.


If you are looking for a counselor to help you navigate the emotional waters you deal with, please do not hesitate to reach out today. I can help you to bolster your emotional toolbox and protect your own emotions.