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Hey,

An online friend I speak to all the time was telling me that she thinks she has hyper empathy syndrome. It came up in conversation, and I can honestly say it was something I had never even heard of. She sent me a bunch of links to articles, including one from this site, so I thought I'd ask about it here. 

How difficult is it to have this? Can hyper empathy syndrome ruin your life, as some of the things I saw said? How do you deal with it? Is there any treatment for hyper empathy syndrome?

I'm not really sure what to say to my friend and I'd like to hear what you have to say about this.

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I guess hyper empathy syndrome can ruin your life, if you get too involved with other people's problems and they have a lot of problems, which happens. Some people seem to attract people who need saving from something. I am a little bit like that. I guess that might have something to do with my family life and childhood. I used to get very involved and I didn't know how to get out or say no to people. Now I am in my 50s and I still have some difficulties saying no. If people appeal to my better nature and they say they need my support, I find it extremely difficult to say no and don't often do it. For me, sometimes that is a real pain in the behind. 

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Well, I dunno... being overwhelmed by other people's feelings is new to me (happened while my gran was dying and since then, I was really close with her), but I can tell ya... it ain't pleasant in any way at all. I recognised myself in hyper empathy syndrome but I realise it can sound like a positive thing, but it really ain't... it's like feeling vibrations (hippie dippie sounding, I know, I'm really not like that either) others send out and just being completely overwhelmed by them. Like my mood can turn INSTANTLY... If it goes on forever, yeah, I think that's gonna be a real hassle, to make an understatement. 

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Oh, how do you deal with hyper empathy syndrome, if that's even the right word for all this? I dunno. No clue. That's why I came to talk about it, because I don't know how to turn it off, how to make it go away, and yeah, it's definitely affecting my mental health in all sorts of ways. I'm very outgoing by nature but I'm finding I need to shut myself off, so it's also messing with my social life. I'm gonna try meditation I think, and I'm also looking into therapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy might help, I'm not sure, but because this hyper empathy started with grief for me, I'm gonna try grief counseling first. 

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Part of me is sure that I am not empathetic enough to understand how hyper empathy syndrome might impact a person. :)

From an intellectual perspective, this is really cool to think about. What is normal in terms of empathy? How much is too much, and what happens when that line is crossed? I've seen how people who think they have hyper empathy syndrome talk about what they're feeling, and I know it's not anything good. Londongirl, what you're saying sounds frustrating and overwhelming, for instance. I'm sorry you're going through that (= cognitive empathy, LOL), but I can't imagine what it would be like. 

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I'm able to read people's feelings, moods, predict what they're going to do, and it has, not exactly ruined my life but made it harder for sure. 

It happens in two ways. 

First, people open up to me when they discover I can understand them and they are happy to have someone to talk to, because people rarely really want to listen to other people's problems and they're relived. But later they usually find it too intense or even frightening, and they take a step back, and that makes it hard to have normal friendships. 

Then the other way, I sometimes get so affected by other people that I just don't feel good. 

It is always there. Nothing I have done so far makes it any different. 

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Hello Press Here,

I think the best thing you can do for your friend is to just listen, and express your empathy :). You can also send her over here or to another place online where people discuss hyper empathy syndrome. Therapy sounds like a good idea, but so often, what people really crave is a real connection with someone who really understands what they are going through. That means other people with hyper empathy, and they are not that difficult to find on the internet. 

Other people with hyper empathy are also the ones who are going to be best at offering tips on managing it and feeling less affected. 

Rosie

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Thanks. 

I really like my online friend, we have kids the same age and actually met on a due date group, and we have a lot of other things in common as well. In this particular instance, I find it hard to relate though. I can see she's bothered by this hyper empathy syndrome she's mentioning and also relieved to find out there is a name for what she has had all her life. 

At the same time, I'm afraid of saying the wrong thing and also, I will admit, just a little skeptical. It is outside my personal experience, so I can't relate too well. 

Londongirl, your post sounds quite a lot like the things my friend says, so thanks for sharing. I guess this is more common than I thought. 

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