The Link Between Empath, Highly Sensitive Person & Mental Illness

This is something that isn't often discussed in the global mental health community, treatment is still largely focused on medication to limit symptoms. While medication does have its place in mental healthcare, it's often a trade-off between side effects and effectiveness. It helps with the what but not the why.

Many describe "being out of their body", "being a zombie" and "floating" as one of the many side effects. Talk about a disconnection of the biggest kind. When the crux of a mental health crisis IS disconnection.

I experienced this first hand from a psychiatrist who prescribed heavy doses of anti-psychotics when I made clear I have never had a psychotic episode and asked for low doses to start. The medication led to nightmares where I woke up screaming, extreme restlessness where I can't sit still for 5 minutes and many other serious side effects that made my life far worse. I definitely didn't feel like myself, I looked and felt like a zombie. I was so out of it that a friend, even over the phone could tell something was seriously wrong. This was to repeat itself in lesser but similar ways even when I did get the right medication. 

While I think medication does have it's place in mental health, many people with mental illness acknowledge that it does more harm than good in the long run. This is a personal decision and if it works for you now, keep it for the time being and explore other more natural avenues. As with anything, there are many emotional aspects when it comes to medication, it can become a crutch and rooted in fear. A crisis is indeed a time of fear, you do not have to suffer needlessly. There are definitely far better ways to mantain long-term stability. One of the many ways is understanding whether you are an Empath and/or a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). 

I see a persistent link between Empaths, HSP and mental health. Both empaths and HSP are people with remarkably high levels of perception, would sense things about people and situations which can become overwhelming. Potentially resulting in anxiety or other mental illnesses. 

Related - An Empath's Guide to Wellness 

Often, people who sense things out of the narrow definition of what's the social norm is automatically seen as crazy. Yet perception vary widely from person to person. Notice how easily people use the word crazy to define what they cannot understand.

"The world is crazy."

"That's crazy."

"Don't be crazy!"

When many successful business leaders use intuition also commonly known as instincts or hunches to move ahead of the competition. 

Dr. Elaine Aron began researching high sensitivity in 1991 and continue to research it today, it is also called Sensory-Processing Sensitivity which is found in 15 to 20% of the US population. Her definition of HSP is 

A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.

While Dr. Judith Orloff describes Empaths as

Highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. Intuition is the filter through which they experience the world. Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and good listeners. 

The first difference is that HSPs experience sensory overload from their environment. They don't physically experience the pain directly like a mirror. Empaths sense the emotions, thoughts and even physical symptoms of others, as their own. For example, someone has a stomach ache, the empath would have one too. Or if someone is crying due to heartache, the empath would feel their heart hurt as well and/or feel like crying as well. Or they look beyond the words and can read their real thoughts, making them excellent lie detectors. 

Related - Love Letter To An Empath 

The second difference is that an Empath can also be a HSP and a HSP can't be an Empath. Both do unknowingly absorb the energy of others in the process, feel exhausted and have no idea why. It's not something they choose to do, it comes naturally. What's important is to make time to recharge, block out any external stimuli, draw boundaries and stay centred. There many methods to do so. 

If you aren't an Empath or HSP, please show people who are some understanding. A large part of mental health is dealing with the stigma, the worse thing you can do is mock them for being "too sensitive" or weak when it's none of those things. Energy has been acknowledged by many leading scientists as a proven part of life.

We are all born differently, have different callings and have our own paths to take. Honouring each other and accepting each other is the best gift you can offer others. 

Speaking as an Empath and HSP, my hope is that you find your authentic self and embrace all that is you, this can only be done by getting out of the box of the narrow definition of what's considered crazy and be the best version of you. 

To love, light and peace, 


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For quotes above, go herehere and here

Comment on this post (3 comments)

  • yu says...

    thank you for sharing this information.
    your words are very valuable to me too!

    December 15, 2018

  • sarah says...

    Yes, every physicist on the planet would say something like that, especially Einstein, as he discovered E = MC2 which means energy and matter are one and interchangeable. That’s why philosophy and physics are well acquainted.

    What is sad is that this comment has been here for over a year, casting ignorant nonsense into the world, and possibly causing someone to devalue this person’s work. Shame. Needs correcting.

    I’m in one of my weakest moments currently. I read a lot, but never do I really care to take note of the person writing, until I came across this website. Thank you Min. Your words are very valuable to me.

    July 18, 2018

  • Baruch says...

    Einstein never made that quotation. In fact, no physicist would ever say anything like that – it does not make a meaningful statement in physics. It is, sadly, nonsense.

    As far as I have been able to determine, the quotation was made by someone called Darryl Anka.

    June 28, 2017

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