Can Being an Empath Cause Anxiety?

Written By

Emily Thompson

Updated:

Fact Checked

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Being an empath means having high emotional intelligence and being able to deeply understand others’ emotions. However, empaths tend to absorb others’ emotions, which can lead to anxiety. Here’s a closer look at the empath-anxiety link.

What is an Empath?

An empath is someone with the ability to recognize, understand, and absorb the emotions of people around them. Empaths have high levels of compassion and emotional perception.

They can put themselves in others’ shoes and feel those emotions as if they were their own, often needing a lot of support.

Some key traits of empaths include:

  • High emotional intelligence
  • Absorbing others’ emotions
  • Feeling compassion for people’s pain
  • Connecting with strangers easily

While empathic abilities allow for deeper connections with people, they also come with challenges.

How Empaths Absorb Emotions

Empaths don’t just sympathize with people’s feelings – they take those feelings on as their own. This emotional absorption happens in a few key ways:

Mirroring

When interacting with a friend going through something, an empath will subconsciously mimic the friend’s body language and facial expressions.

  • This physical mirroring causes the empath to start feeling those same emotions.

Shared Networks

Brain imaging scans show that when an empath sees someone experience an emotion, the areas of the empath’s brain related to those emotions activate in tandem.

  • Their brains create a shared network.

Global Changes

The emotions empaths absorb can lead to actual changes in their biochemistry and hormones.

  • Feeling others’ stress and anxiety triggers empaths’ physiological stress response systems.
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How Anxiety Emerges

The combination of conscious awareness of people’s pain and subconscious absorption of their emotions puts empaths at major risk for anxiety as emotional overload.

Emotional Tunnels

Empaths often use “emotional tunnel vision,” zoning in so intently on others’ emotions that they lose perspective.

  • This immersion into emotionally-charged tunnels while neglecting their own self-care is draining.

Lost Identity

Getting constantly immersed in others’ emotional worlds can cause empaths to lose touch with their own needs, thoughts, and feelings.

  • Self-identity becomes blurred, and anxiety surfaces.

Overwhelm

Without enough time for self-care and resetting between emotional exposures, empaths quickly hit their threshold for emotional absorbtion.

  • Too much emotional input becomes overloading.

Signs Empaths Have Anxiety

Many empaths show classic anxiety disorder symptoms including:

  • Worrying excessively
  • Feeling tense, jumpy, and restless
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Additionally, empaths may exhibit physical intuitions about others’ emotions, like stomachaches before interactions. Headaches and fatigue often emerge, too.

Coping Strategies for Empathic Anxiety

If you’re an empath struggling with anxiety, here are some proactive coping methods to try:

Energy Shielding

Imagine a force field around your body protecting your own emotions. Visualize it dispelling and diffusing others’ energy.

Physical Grounding

Plant your feet firmly on the floor. Look around and name some things you see to re-center your attention.

Mirror Cleansings

After emotional interactions, scan your body for any tension you’ve adopted. Consciously relax each area.

  • Implementing healthy daily emotional hygiene habits can help empathic people stay balanced instead of absorbent.
  • Protecting your energy ensures you can sustain positive connections without anxiety.

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Final Thoughts

While deeply connecting with people’s feelings, empaths often overlook their own. Getting swept up in emotional undertows drags empaths down.

  • Finding the right self-care strategies offers needed flotation.
  • Ultimately, empaths don’t have to drown in others’ emotions.

A few coping adjustments can prevent anxiety so these intuitive people can continue shining light.

Vice: Are you an empath?

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About the author

Emily Thompson

Emily Thompson

Hello there! I'm Emily Thompson, a proud Londoner and writer with a fervor for breaking down the complexities of therapy in this modern, digital era. My roots are in London, right in its bustling heart, and it was here at King's College London that I earned my degree in journalism. It was during those transformative years at university that my curiosity for mental health was ignited, propelling me to further study and earn a Masters in Clinical Psychology. Over the past few years, I've been pouring my heart into creating insightful and captivating blog articles on mental health therapies, establishing myself as a go-to voice in this domain. I'm particularly recognized for my in-depth analyses of online platforms such as BetterHelp UK, offering thorough, unbiased reviews and useful guides for those in search of assistance. I have a unique ability to simplify intricate therapy notions into easily understandable and relatable content, essentially bridging the chasm between the clinical environment and everyday folks like you and me.Social

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