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What is emotional numbness? Well, unless you have experienced emotional numbness yourself it is very difficult to put into words. This state of being features the absence of feelings or expression of emotions. You feel basically flat as a piece of cardboard.
This blog will describe the causes of emotional numbness, and some of them may surprise you. More importantly, you will gain a deeper understanding of this condition and how to overcome it.
What Is Emotional Numbness?
Have you ever felt like you were walking through your daily life in an utter haze, almost like a zombie? You may have felt alone, even when standing in a room full of people. You may have felt isolated, as if no one even knew you were in the house or sitting at your desk.
Emotional numbness is kind of like checking out from reality. You don’t really care about what is going on around you, and you don’t make the effort to participate with others. You actually prefer to be alone. You don’t feed sad or scared or upset, you feel nothing.
While sleepwalking through the days in a numbed, flat state you might feel a reprieve from the symptoms of a mental health issue. For instance, you may detach emotionally as a means to avoid the disturbing memories of an assault or trauma. The state of emotional numbness is usually temporary, so eventually you must come to terms with the causal factor.
Symptoms of Emotional Numbness
The symptoms of emotional numbness might include:
- Sudden loss of interest in people, hobbies, or activities you once enjoyed.
- The feeling that you cannot fully participate in daily life, as if you are watching people on TV.
- Going through the motions at work or at home without any interest in what you are doing.
- Being unable to feel either happy or sad. Stuck in a state of malaise or apathy.
- Feeling compelled to isolate.
- Feeling detached physically and emotionally.
Causes of Emotional Numbness
Why is it that you may suddenly feel so detached from others, and even yourself? When thinking about what causes the feeling of emotional detachment or numbness, there are several to consider:
- Burnout. You may be going through a highly stressful period at work. So much so that you feel burned out, which can cause emotional detachment.
- Loss and grief. If you have recently lost a loved one, it is common to feel numb. The sadness is too overwhelming, and that can cause the opposite reaction of feeling emotionally numb.
- Rejection. When we experience a rejection, such as a failed relationship or being fired from our job, we can shut down. These, too, are similar to loss due to death and you need time to heal. Meanwhile you may feel numb and detached.
- Loneliness. If you have been living alone for an extended time and feel lonely, it can turn into emotional numbness at some point.
Feeling numb may also be a sign of a mental health disorder. Some conditions that may include symptoms of numbness or detachment include:
Depression often causes fatigue, listlessness, loss of interest, and feelings of sadness. Depression symptoms may even become severe enough to cause impairment. If the symptoms are severe, it may cause the sense of emotional numbness. Also, keep in mind that antidepressants themselves can cause emotional numbness as a side effect.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
- Sleep problems.
- Slowed thinking and movements.
- Difficulty making decisions.
- Change in eating habits; sudden weight changes.
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
- Inappropriate feelings of shame, worthlessness, or guilt.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
The main feature of all anxiety disorders is a sense of having no control over a fear-inducing situation. Fear can also provoke a sense of numbness. While each type of anxiety disorder will have its own specific features, anxiety symptoms generally include:
- Excessive worry or fear.
- Feelings of dread.
- Always on alert for danger.
- Racing heart.
- Shortness of breath.
- Stomach upset, diarrhea.
- Feeling jumpy or restless.
- Sleep problems.
- Trouble concentrating, mental confusion, short-term memory problems.
PTSD is a type of anxiety-related mental health disorder that features a prolonged response to a traumatic event. This happens when symptoms persist a month or longer.
Emotional flatness, numbness or detachment is quite common with PTSD. PTSD symptoms include:
- Experiencing strong emotions, such as anger, sorrow, despair.
- Mood swings.
- Difficulties at work.
- Hyper-arousal, jumpy.
- Intrusive memories.
- Problems in relationships.
- Flashbacks or nightmares.
- Feelings of guilt or shame.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Isolating behaviors.
- Emotional flatness or detachment.
- Avoidance of any thing, place, or person that might trigger thoughts of the event.
- Substance abuse.
How to Overcome Emotional Numbness
If you are finding yourself feeling numb and unengaged with people, you may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is quite helpful for the treatment of the mental health disorders listed above, as it helps change thought patterns.
CBT also helps those who are going through loss, burnout, or relationship struggles. The CBT therapist can help the person change their negative thinking and improve their overall attitude.
Self-care is also very helpful for those feeling numb and detached. Holistic methods, like taking yoga, practicing mindfulness, or getting a massage, can help you reconnect with your feelings. These actions help to bring together the mind, body, and spirit.
If you wondered, “What is emotional numbness” you should now have a much better grasp of what this emotion state is. If you struggle with numbness, do reach out for help today.
The Treatment Specialist is an Online Resource for Mental Health Information
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If you or someone you love is dealing with emotional numbness, reach out to us today. Call us at (866) 644-7911.