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Hiya, 

So I'm really not sure where this goes but I think here's the best bet... I recently lost my gran, and you know what family drama someone's loss can bring up. Since it happened, I've been feeling, not just empathy with my relatives, most of whom are now in the midst of a nasty argument to the point of nearly doing each other's heads in all while grieving for my gran as well... but it's like I can personally feel all their feelings. It's not just that I am sad and so are they. It's that I can walk into a room and literally feel the atmosphere, and get the emotions others are experiencing as well. 

So I went googling, and found something about hyper empathy syndrome. I am not even sure if this is a real thing or it's one of those things that someone made up and it resonates with some people, but either way, I am pretty sure this applies to me at the moment. So my question is, how can doctors diagnose this hyper empathy syndrome, if they do at all, and is there some way to be rid of it? I'm not liking this at all. 

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Well, from what I read, hyper empathy disorder is indeed a real disorder, but it does not have its own diagnosis. 

I assume that you are in the UK, and they probably have their own diagnostic system over there that differs from the American one, but hyper empathy disorder is apparently "filed" under "personality disorder not otherwise specified (NOS)" under the DSM-5, which is the diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders currently in use. 

I will say, though, that it is clearly impossible for anyone to tell you whether you have hyper empathy disorder just from talking to you on the internet. I'm not a mental health professional myself, for starters. But whether you have hyper empathy disorder or not and whether or not it has its own diagnostic category, you can definitely get therapy for the feelings you are experiencing right now and get help feeling better. 

Good luck!

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Hey Londongirl,

I have read about hyper empathy syndrome before. There was a case during which a woman actually felt the physical effects of emotions actors on television experienced, for example. Hyper empathy syndrome goes way beyond just "knowing", with your mind, how other people are feeling. (You could call that one "people skills", methinks?) Rather, people with hyper empathy syndrome truly feel the relevant emotions themselves. 

It does sound like you are experiencing something like that, but perhaps it could simply be grief-induced as well? And because you are talking about close relatives, knowing them really well may play into this as well. 

I am not sure what diagnosing hyper empathy syndrome involves, but I would definitely see a doctor if you're suffering because of this. 

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From what I understand, hyper empathy syndrome is like the other side of the coin to sociopathy. Sociopaths have too little empathy, folks with hyper empathy syndrome have too much. I think hyper empathy syndrome CAN be triggered by traumatic or profound experiences that cause some kind of change in your brain chemistry. It's not always something you're simply born with. So I wouldn't say that just because you started experiencing these symptoms recently, you don't have hyper empathy syndrome. 

How can doctors diagnose hyper empathy syndrome? I assume they ask you lots of questions about your feelings while they have some kind of checklist that looks for diagnostic criteria. You will want to see a psychologist and talk about this. 

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I've never heard of this hyper empathy syndrome and I have no idea what's involved with diagnosing it, but I do believe, from personal experience, that empathy exists on a spectrum. Some people naturally have a lot of empathy, and others not so much. Different people also experience empathy in different ways. You may cognitively be able to put yourself in another person's shoes and believe that this amounts to empathy, but I think that is what you would actually call sympathy. You are being sympathetic to another person's plight. Empathy, on the other hand, amounts more to feeling what other people are feeling. For instance, you are sad that your friend broke up with her boyfriend and now you feel sad too. Can you ever have too much of that? I have never thought about it like that. 

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Yeah, this isn't that... I mean, I think of myself as a pretty empathetic person anyways, I try to be a good friend, a good sister, a good daughter, etc, and I care about what's happening to others. But what someone above mentioned about TV... I have that too. I watched a beer advert on telly that very nearly made me cry. It's people down the shops as well sometimes... I didn't have this before and yes, it did start with my gran's decline (she had a long illness). Perhaps it made me... dunno, change my outlook on life?

But in short, I feel completely paralysed by all these feelings quite often. They're interfering with my work, my social life, my everything, and it's so strange because it's a relatively new thing. I'd really appreciate some answers here, and hyper empathy syndrome is the closest thing to an answer I have found so far.
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I honestly believe that if you were to see "someone" (a therapist) about your hyper empathy right now, and you explain the circumstances that arose to you feeling this way, your therapist would tell you that you are dealing with grief, plain and simple but no less hurtful. 

If you lost your grandmother just recently, you may be in the "depression" part of your five stages of grief and loss. You have passed the denial and anger, and are now acutely feeling what other people are feeling because your own emotions are heightened. 

I agree with the advice to see a therapist, because that is common sense if you are feeling this way, but wait a while before you even think about diagnosing hyper empathy syndrome and just work on your grief, which is very natural, right now. 

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Perhaps hyper empathy syndrome is the same thing that some people call "empaths"? An empath is said to physicall and emotionally experience the feelings other people have. Empaths can feel other people's energy or vibrations, but also the energy animals or places have in them. It's something like the synesthesia some autistic people experience, where you can "taste words" or experience "emotions as colors". I am not sure how this occurs or how hyper empathy syndrome is diagnosed either, but if you are looking for more information, perhaps from a less scientific perspective, do a search for "empaths" and you may find something that is useful to you. 

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