I think I empathize too much

I empathize so much, even with characters on tv or in video games, that I actually feel physical pain. This has made life difficult to say the least.

I believe I have an actually case of something called hyper empathy disorder. But since it's such a new disorder I can't find any information about it. Could this be what is going on with me?

Sometimes it's helps to have a name for a problem - it can make you feel less alone as in, "oh there's a name for this and other people have this experience too." On the other hand naming the problem can also make it stick around longer as in "now I have a special problem that has a special name, and that's an important part of who I am."

Bottom line, whether it's a disorder or not, you would like life to be easier and not have to be pulled so much by other people's energy and feelings. You might want to try imagining that you have a volume dial on your empathy (just like the volume dial or button on the tv) that you can gently turn down to the point where you still feel what's going on but it's not so "loud". You can also try imagining pulling your own energy back as if you were drawing your energy back home to the center of your own body and being, letting go of the other people or characters that pulled your energy out so far. This is a way create better boundaries and protect your own vulnerability. Just like on an airplane where they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping anyone else, your empathy will most likely not really help others if you allow yourself to be depleted.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
I tailor my therapeutic approach to each client's strengths and goals

It sounds like this would be difficult at times, particularly if you feel misunderstood.

You may or may not know that we all have chemicals in our brain. We also have different sections of our brain that become active when different things happen. There is a part of our brain where a lot of our emotions originate that is also designed to protect us when we are going through things that have been physically or emotionally painful in the past, and when that part of the brain is sometimes overactive (perceiving threat when there is no actual threat at the time), sometimes anxiety can develop. This doesn't necessarily mean that everyone has an anxiety disorder, but often if we are afraid of something that is not actually a legitimate concern (for example, most insects are not going to hurt me, but I still do not like them very much), we have anxiety about it.

The first thing I thought of when I read your question is that perhaps some part of your brain are overactive. I did find an article that may be helpful to you, but I just want to caution you. Not everything listed here applies to you. Also, the article uses the term "brain anomalies." This does not mean that there is something majorly wrong with your brain. While I cannot tell you exactly what is happening, I'm asking you not to panic over the term and to just consider that perhaps some of the chemical reactions in your brain may be a little overactive, which may be able to be corrected with medication or something similar. I can't tell for certain from what you posted whether or not this is what is happening, but I would recommend that you either talk to your primary care physician or a therapist or psychiatrist.

Here is the article: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2012/09/too-much-empathy/

When you meet with your doctor or a therapist, please try to convey how much this is affecting your life.

Thank you so much for posting here and I wish you the best.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal, as if you want to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, or are in crisis, call 800-273-8255 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), call 911, or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

The world needs more people lately who have such a high degree of empathy which you describe in yourself!

If it feels a little burdensome, then look to balance what is too much with its opposite.  

Since you're giving a lot of empathy, maybe you'd like receiving a lot of empathy.

In the situation you describe, when you start empathizing with others, real or cartoon, ask yourself whether you've felt empathy coming in your direction lately.

Often people give to others what they feel within themselves is missing.

The emotional brain reasons that if I give you my support, say, then at least I will feel half of what being supported is like.

Obviously the wish to receive more empathy cannot be fulfilled by you directly.  Empathy is delivered by someone who is willing to offer it.

Reflect on whether you are allowing those who are in your world, to know when you would like to receive their empathy.

Is it possible you keep your feelings to yourself and present as though you are able to handle a great deal more than you'd like to handle without anyone's kindness to support you?

Being open to others about your own inner thoughts and feelings is much more difficult than it sounds.

It sounds easy to just tell someone how you feel.

Sometimes the first step is the most difficult, of accessing how you feel.

Start with knowing the amount of empathy you'd like from others and what stops you from asking.

Also, about your diagnosis and the lack of  studies and lists and formulas.  Each person is unique, the instructions and guidelines don't necessarily mean very much.  Often having a diagnosis makes a person feel weak, stigmatized, incompetent. 

Forget the diagnosis and concentrate on what you need to do differently in order to feel better.

The answers are inside you, not inside a book or website.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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