It is very easy to confuse Highly Sensitive people, and Empaths. It's basically on the same scale, but empaths are farther along. We can have both traits, I have. The link below is very explanatory.
Nieve, if I walk into a store or a restaurant and someone is having a crappy day, I can feel it. Just as I can tell when one of my friends half way around the world is having trouble. To me this is being empathic. Showing empathy, to me is something entirely different. It's a complicated subject, isn't it?
I tend to think we are saying the same. things but with different words.
I have a friend who calls being sensitive, 'being aware.' It's just how she explains it. Saying you're and empath or are sensitive freaks her out a bit. She doesn't believe in all that, yet things were happening to her that she could not explain away with 'wrong meds.'