As Hollywood producers and publishers of page turners know, a good vampire story is hard to resist (got a long layover or lazy holiday to fill? I highly recommend this trilogy, for example). So why the eternal human fascination with blood-sucking monsters who look just like us?

One possible answer is that such creatures truly do walk among us every day. Not literally, of course. But metaphorically. We all know people who somehow manage to insinuate themselves into your life and end up slowing sucking you dry of your energy, your enthusiasm, even your happiness.

Medical doctor: yes, there is such a thing as vampires.

Think I'm just exaggerating to make my post as exciting as the latest vampire blockbuster? Then check out a this recent article by Judith Orloff, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, on Psychology Today.

"As a physician, I've found that the biggest energy drain on my patients is relationships. Some relationships are positive and mood elevating. Others can suck optimism and serenity right out of you. I call these draining people emotional vampires," she writes, endorsing the notion that vampires do indeed exist.

The fascinating piece goes on to enumerate the five types of emotional vampires you should look out for, as well as offering a bit of advice on how to protect yourself from each subspecies (setting appropriate boundaries and deep breathing seem to be preferred to garlic and holy water).

But perhaps the most essential bit of advice Orloff gives is a simple checklist of signs that you're the being victimized by an emotional vampire in the first place. After all, you need to know to identify a monster before you can defeat it. So if you consistently notice these signs during or immediately following your conversation with a certain someone, it's time to seriously consider if they might be an emotional vampire:

  1. Your eyelids are heavy, and you feel ready for a nap.
  2. Your mood takes a nosedive.
  3. You want to binge on carbs or comfort foods. (Science shows a surprising link between stress and which snacks you crave.)
  4. You feel anxious, depressed, or negative.
  5. You feel put down.

Not sure your bête noire is en emotional vampire exactly? Maybe you're dealing with a psychopath, narcissist, or old-fashioned manipulator. Follow the links for more information on identifying and defeating them.