Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Numbness

emotional numbness

Emotional numbness is an understudied condition for the most part. Although it is unstudied it’s a core symptom of many other conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In many cases, emotional numbness is a subconscious effort to protect one’s self. When you detach from your feelings, you protect yourself from feeling extreme emotions, giving you temporary relief.

However, numbness can make it hard for you to connect with other people. It will also disconnect you from feeling positive emotions, as well.

Learn more about the signs, causes, and emotional numbness treatment below.

Signs of Emotional Numbness

Emotional numbness can present itself in various ways. However, people who struggle with it have two main issues: processing and expressing their feelings.

In general, though, you may feel the following signs:

  • Difficulty connecting with other people
  • Lack of attention
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Feeling disconnected from your thoughts
  • Hollowness
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Self-isolation
  • Difficulty processing one’s own feelings
  • Lack of enjoyment from usual hobbies
  • Physical and emotional exhaustion

If you can relate to some of the symptoms above, you may be experiencing emotional numbness.  

What Are the Causes of Emotional Numbness?

Why do people have emotional numbness? Most times, it’s a side effect of past experiences or underlying conditions. To treat it, you first have to know what’s causing it.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD can occur after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. It can be a result of events like natural disasters, wars, abuse, or an accident.

People with this mental health disorder may feel in danger even when they’re safe. They remain stressed or fearful, often experiencing flashbacks or disturbing thoughts about the event.

To cope with this condition, some people develop emotional numbing. This helps them avoid intense thoughts and manage their emotional pain.

Elevated Stress

When stress hormones flood your body, all sorts of reactions can occur, some of which can lead to feeling numb. For example, when they affect your limbic system, they can affect your mood and your other hormones.

Extreme stress can also cause physical and emotional fatigue. This can lead to numbness.

Depression or Anxiety

Severe depression may also cause emotional numbness. Depressive episodes might lead to disconnection from one’s feelings and dulling of emotions.

One of its major symptoms is the loss of interest in most things. When the mood becomes so low, the emotions of people with depression may become flat.

Emotional numbing may also be your body’s response to extreme levels of fear or worry. That’s why it’s closely linked to high levels of anxiety.


Some medications may trigger emotional numbness. In particular, medications used for treating anxiety and depression are the most common culprits.

This is because these medications can affect the way your brain processes your mood and emotions. If you think these might be causing your numbness, work with your doctor to find alternatives.


Mental and physical abuse may also be the cause of emotional numbing. As we said earlier, it can be a form of self-defense mechanism. It can be a means of survival, especially with abused or neglected children.


Abuse of substances that can alter the mind and mood can also be a culprit. Numbing can be a side effect of overusing alcohol, pain medication, or stimulants. Such substances can kill brain cells and cause behavioral issues.

If it’s not too late, the effects can be reversible. To treat emotional numbness, you have to recover from substance abuse first.

Dealing with Emotional Numbness

No matter the cause, emotional numbness isn’t permanent. It may go away on its own, or you may do some steps to help relieve some of its symptoms. You’ll also have to get help for the root cause.

In any case, you’ll need a little push and the right support system.

Get a Support System

No one should endure everything alone. That’s why no matter what route you choose to take in treating emotional numbness, you must have a solid support system to watch your back.

Reach out to your friends, family members, or anyone you trust. Even if you have trouble connecting, they may understand and help you. Telling others about your situation is also freeing.


Any form of physical activity might be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling emotionally numb, but exercise is a good way to flood your body with endorphins. You can do something as simple as walking around your neighborhood. You may even try swimming, running, or anything you might enjoy.

Endorphins relieve stress and pain, much like opioids. The only difference is that our bodies naturally produce these hormones.

Get Enough Rest

Prioritize getting a good quality of sleep at least 7 hours every night. This is crucial for the recovery of all physical, mental, and emotional issues.

Having enough rest can help you cope better with your condition. It can help you deal with the day with a clearer mind.

Minimize Stress

Like we said above, stress is a major contributor to the feeling of numbness. Managing stress may help you address your numbness.

Identify your main stressors and see which ones you can cut out of your life. As we can’t always eliminate the source of stress, you should also try some relaxation techniques. You can try:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Getting a massage
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Aromatherapy

Find a strategy that works for you.


Don’t hesitate to go to a therapist, as well. Psychotherapy can help you determine the root of your emotional numbness. It can help you understand the problem and find ways to solve it.

There are many types of psychotherapy, however. The best one will be dependent on your unique needs and situation.

Get Better Today with SoCal Sunrise Mental Health

When you’re already dealing with emotional numbness, going through it alone won’t help. Find support from a professional who will help you determine the cause.Don’t hesitate to contact us today so that we may also help you find solutions. We’ll get to the root cause and treat it, too.

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