Emotional Numbness: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

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28 March 2024

5 Mins

Have you ever felt your feelings turned off, like you're watching life but can't feel anything? Are you going through your day-to-day activities, but the joy, sadness, and excitement that once colored your experiences seem distant and unreachable? This feeling, called emotional numbness, can make you feel lost and alone.

Lots of people go through times when they can't feel their emotions, usually because of tough experiences or too much stress. In this article, let’s talk about what feeling numb emotionally means, why it happens, and most importantly, how you can start to feel better again.

What Is Emotional Numbness?

Emotional numbness is a state where a person feels disconnected from their emotions or experiences a lack of emotional response to situations that would typically evoke feelings. It can manifest as feeling numb emotionally, empty, detached, or unable to experience joy, sadness, or other emotions.

Emotional blunting occurs as a coping mechanism in response to trauma, stress, or overwhelming emotions, but it can also be a symptom of certain mental health conditions like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Symptoms of Emotional Numbness

Symptoms of emotional numbness can vary from person to person. It can also affect your ability to connect with others or empathize with their emotions. If you're experiencing ‘why do I feel emotionless’, you may notice some of the following signs:

It's important to note that experiencing occasional emotional numbness is normal, especially in response to stressful or traumatic events. However, if you regularly think ‘I feel numb’, it may be a sign of an underlying mental health issue and should be addressed with the help of a mental health professional.

What Causes Emotional Numbness?

It's essential to identify and address the underlying cause of emotional numbness to manage and overcome this symptom effectively. Having thoughts about ‘why do I feel nothing’ can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Trauma: Experiencing or witnessing traumatic events, such as abuse, violence, or natural disasters, can lead to emotional numbness as a protective response.
  • Grief and loss: The death of a loved one or other significant losses can trigger emotional numbness as a way to cope with overwhelming feelings of sadness or grief.
  • Chronic stress: Prolonged exposure to stressors, such as work pressure, financial difficulties, or relationship problems, can desensitize emotions and lead to numbness.
  • Mental health disorders: Conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and dissociative disorders can all contribute to emotional numbness.
  • Substance abuse: Alcohol, drugs, and other substances can dull emotions and contribute to feelings of numbness.
  • Personality traits: Some individuals may have a predisposition to emotional numbness due to personality factors or learned coping mechanisms from childhood experiences.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as neurological disorders or hormonal imbalances, can affect emotional regulation and contribute to numbness.
  • Medications: Some medications, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers, may have side effects that impact emotional responsiveness.

Emotional Numbness Treatment

Emotional numbness treatment helps people start feeling their emotions again and feel better. It includes different ways to help them understand why they feel this way and learn how to cope. Its treatment may include the following approaches:

1. Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or other forms of psychotherapy can help individuals explore and process emotions, identify and challenge negative thought patterns, and develop coping strategies for managing the symptoms of ‘Why do I feel numb.

2. Trauma-focused therapy

For individuals who have experienced trauma, trauma-focused therapies such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) or prolonged exposure therapy (PE) may be beneficial in processing traumatic memories and reducing emotional numbness.

3. Medication

In some cases, medications such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to address underlying mental health conditions contributing to emotional numbness.

How to Cope With Emotional Numbness?

Coping with emotional blunting involves learning to go through feelings of detachment and emptiness while taking steps to improve your emotional health. Coping with emotional numbness can be challenging, but several strategies may help:

  • Build self-compassion: Be gentle with yourself and acknowledge that emotional numbness is a normal response to difficult circumstances.
  • Express your emotions: Engage in creative activities such as writing, art, music, or dance to express emotions in non-verbal ways.
  • Use mindfulness and grounding techniques: Practice mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or grounding techniques to reconnect with your body and surroundings.
  • Engage in physical activity: Engage in regular exercise, as it can help release endorphins and improve mood.
  • Go for social support: Reach out to friends, family members, or support groups for connection and understanding.
  • Seek therapy: Consider seeking therapy with a qualified mental health professional who can help you explore the underlying causes of emotional numbness and develop coping strategies.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritize activities that nourish your body and soul, such as getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, spending time outdoors, and engaging in hobbies you enjoy.
  • Limit substance use: Avoid using alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to numb emotions, as this can exacerbate emotional numbness in the long run.
  • Set small goals: Break tasks into manageable steps and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.
  • Practice patience: Healing takes time, so be patient with yourself and trust that your emotions will gradually return as you work through underlying issues.

How Now&Me can help

Now&Me offers a safe space for you to share your feelings and connect with others. You can chat with professionals for free and find support from the community.

Plus, there are articles and forums to help you understand and overcome emotional numbness. Download the Now&Me app and start feeling better today!


To get your emotions back, try engaging in activities that bring you joy, expressing yourself through creative outlets, and seeking support from loved ones or a therapist.

When someone is emotionally numb, offer them empathy and understanding without judgment. Encourage them to seek professional help if needed and remind them that it's okay to feel their emotions.

To start feeling emotions again after trauma, consider seeking therapy to process your experiences, practice self-care, and mindfulness techniques, and gradually expose yourself to positive experiences that evoke emotions.

To overcome emotional detachment, work on building emotional awareness through therapy or self-reflection, practice expressing your feelings openly and honestly, and prioritize cultivating meaningful connections with others.

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