emotionally numb

Why Do I Feel Emotionally Numb?

If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of emotional numbness, you will know that it’s a sensation that’s quite difficult to put into words. It’s not sadness, anger or confusion; it’s simply just a feeling of ‘nothing’ or ‘emptiness’.

People tend to explain this sensation differently. Some report that they feel a large wave of nothingness wash over them during daily tasks; others experience a prolonged period of emptiness that strips them of any joy.

You may also feel like you are disconnected from your body, from your thoughts and emotions – leaving you unable to react to those around you. This can leave you feeling extremely isolated and lonely – particularly if you have no idea why you feel this way.

Feeling emotionally numb can hold you back from living a happy and fulfilled life. When we are numb to negative emotions, we are also numb to positive ones. It can be a symptom of a mental health problem such as depression, or it may also be a response to trauma. But, the good news is that with the right help and tools, you can get relief and begin to feel like your old self again.

Let’s take a look at the various causes and symptoms of emotional disconnection.

Why do I feel emotionally numb?

Emotional numbness is the incapacity to feel or express emotion. It can become a coping mechanism that leads to detachment, dismissal and avoidance.

It may be caused by a traumatic experience, such as the death of someone close to you. Or, it may come out of nowhere and overpower you during an otherwise ordinary day.

“I don’t feel anything.”

Feeling numb emotionally could also be a short-term band-aid for stress or sadness in your life. However, while this may provide temporary relief, it will prevent you from feeling true fulfilment and joy in life in the long-term.

Other common causes include:

  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Substance abuse

Feeling emotionally numb can also be a side effect of certain medications – particularly ones that are used to treat anxiety and depression. If you are experiencing feelings of numbness, you must let your GP know. They may decide to adjust your dose or change your medication altogether.

Symptoms of emotional numbness

Although it may be challenging to acknowledge or put how you feel into words, common symptoms of emotional numbness include:

  • Feeling detached or distant from loved ones
  • A loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Being unable to access or express your feelings
  • Feeling flat – both emotionally and physically
  • Choosing to isolate yourself from those around you
  • The inability to fully participate in life
  • Difficulty experiencing positive feelings – like happiness and joy

How to manage emotional numbness

The good news is that treatment is possible. There are a variety of options available that can help you to revive your emotions.

The first step is finding a therapist to work with. They will help you to find the underlying cause for your emotional numbness and provide strategies to help you handle your feelings correctly.

The goal of your psychologist will be to help you gain a thorough understanding of your emotions, and offer useful, problem-solving alternatives. They will help you to see how specific thoughts or actions may be contributing to your feelings.

Other ways to manage emotional numbness include:

  • Regular exercise – when you feel empty inside, it can be difficult to force yourself to look after your body. But getting up and moving will make you feel better mentally, thanks to the release of endorphins.
  • Quality sleep – a good night of restful sleep helps you to function at your best. Try to wind down on an evening and set a schedule that allows you to get at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep.
  • Balanced diet – Nourish your body with a healthy diet that’s full of whole foods. Getting the right nutrients helps to stabilise your mood and regulate your hormones.

You can learn to tame negative thoughts and avoid defensive coping patterns.

In Summary

  • When you’re feeling numb emotionally, you may experience a sensation of nothingness and emptiness. You may be unable to express and process your feelings. While this may dull painful emotions, but it also limits positive ones.
  • Numbness can be a sign of a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or PTSD.
  • It can also signal emotional avoidance, which means that instead of allowing your emotions and acknowledging them, you push them away.
  • Emotional numbness can be treated with the help of a mental health professional. Treatment options include therapy, regular exercise, good sleep, and a balanced diet.
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