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So you want to feel happy, excited, and joyful again, Each day you wake up hoping to experience those emotions, but instead, all you feel is … nothing. Read on to learn what causes emotional numbness.
What Is Emotional Numbness?
Emotional numbness is a mood state in which a person does not experience the normal range of emotions during their day-to-day life. People who feel emotionally numb are not moved by events or interactions that would normally elicit an emotional response. Feelings like joy, sorrow, anger, or worry are not present.
Someone experiencing emotional numbness often feels very low energy, which can affect their work. Because they don’t feel motivated about anything, they often have no desire to engage socially either. The cause of the condition determines how long this state will persist, and how to treat it.
Causes of Emotional Numbness
There are many things that can cause emotional numbness. Because there are so many possible causes, it is important to see a mental health expert who can diagnose the cause. Once the cause has been determined, a treatment plan can be designed based on the diagnosis.
Some of the causes of emotional numbness include:
- Grief. When we lose someone dear to us, it takes time to accept the loss and heal our hearts. The grieving process is different for everyone, as it takes time to sink in. Some people may be able to return to work after the death of a loved one, but they may still feel emotionally numb.
- Medications. Some medications can cause the symptoms of numbness or flat affect. For instance, antidepressants are known to cause this, with patients reporting they feel no highs or lows while taking them. In fact, a study showed that nearly half of people on these drugs report emotional numbness.
- Parkinson’s disease. PD is a neurological disease that causes symptoms such as rigid muscles, tremors, and more. One of the symptoms of PD is flat affect or a lack of expression.
- Dementia. Some people who suffer from dementia may find their range of emotions is very limited.
- Avoidance. Emotional avoidance or unavailability is the act of pushing away the negative emotions you are not ready to deal with. This is a maladaptive coping technique to avoid being hurt or to sidestep issues you want to avoid.
- Substance abuse. When someone is engaged in chronic substance abuse, it can impact brain health. Drug and alcohol abuse leads to the death of brain cells and other brain related conditions that cause emotional numbness.
- Mental health disorders. There are several mental health issues that can have emotional numbness as a symptom.
5 Mental Health Disorders with Symptoms of Flat Affect
Several mental health disorders include flat affect or emotional blunting as a symptom. Flat affect is a little different from emotional numbness. With flat affect, the person does feel the emotions, but they are not able to express them. These include:
- Depression. The symptoms of depression include sadness, despair, loss of hope, thoughts of death, and loss of interest in life. These may manifest with flat affect.
- PTSD. The long-term effects of trauma include avoidance behaviors, substance abuse, and emotional detachment. These can show up as a flat affect, or the lack of expressed emotions.
- Dissociative disorder. This disorder often stems from trauma. The person has the sense of having an out-of-body experience, or depersonalization.
- Anxiety. Chronic fear causes the stress hormones to run rampant, which can lead to a sense of emotional blunting or flat affect.
- Schizophrenia. Some people who suffer from this severe mental illness will have impairment in emotional functioning, causing flat affect.
Signs of Emotional Numbness
Some signs of emotional numbness include:
- Negative mood state.
- Feelings of emotional detachment.
- Trouble paying attention or focusing.
- Feeling as if the setting or area you are in is not real.
- Disturbing dreams or flashbacks of a trauma.
- Feeling flat both emotionally and physically.
- Trouble expressing positive feelings.
- Feeling distant from self or others.
- Cannot connect with your feelings.
- Withdrawing from others.
- Losing interest in things you used to enjoy.
Self-Care for Symptoms of Emotional Numbness
For those who are struggling with flat affect that is not due to a health condition, self-care can help. In many cases, emotional numbness is related to anxiety or depression. Try some of these lifestyle changes to improve your mental health:
- Get more sleep. Most of us do not get enough sleep, which only makes us less alert and grumpier during the day. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night, and stick to a sleep schedule.
- Get regular exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is harmful on many levels, harming both physical and mental health. For better stress management and mood, add a half hour of exercise into the daily routine.
- Join a self-help group. Attend a self-help group for others struggling with anxiety or depression. Being able to share your own experiences with each other can provide useful insights and social support.
Psychiatric Help for Treatment of Emotional Numbness
When the emotional numbness is due to a mental health disorder, a residential treatment program can be very beneficial. This treatment setting allows you to focus all your energy on healing while also receiving invaluable therapy and support. In this level of care you can expect daily interventions, such as:
- Psychotherapy. You will work with therapists in either one-on-one talk sessions or group sessions. These can help you examine past events or other factors that may be involved.
- Medication. Whether your current meds are revised, or new drugs are prescribed, these help manage the symptoms.
- Holistic. A wide range of holistic methods is included in the treatment plan. These activities can help reduce stress and enhance wellbeing.
Learning about what causes emotional wellness is the first step toward finding a solution. Reach out today for the help you deserve.
Elevation Behavioral Health Residential Mental Health Provider
Elevation Behavioral Health offers a healing environment for getting to the central cause of emotional numbness. Using a combination of evidence-based therapies and holistic methods, we are dedicated to supporting you toward emotional wellness. Call us today at (888) 561-0868.