Emotional numbness: Why is it bad for your health?

Have you ever just felt numb? Like nothing was getting through to you, like your emotions were completely shut down and unresponsive? If so, you’ve experienced a state of emotional numbness. While it may seem like a blessing in difficult times, emotional numbness can actually be very harmful in the long run. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore why emotional numbness is bad for you and what you can do to overcome it. 

From better understanding your feelings and developing healthy coping mechanisms, to seeking help when needed, learn how to reclaim control of your emotional life and wellbeing.

See also Signs Of Emotional Trauma and Can Stress Cause Cancer?

What is Emotional Numbness?

Emotional numbness is a condition where you feel disconnected from your emotions. 

When you experience emotional numbness, it can feel like your feelings have been turned off. You may not feel happy, sad, or angry, but you may feel disconnected from yourself and others. This can be a problem because it prevents you from experiencing the full range of emotions that make life meaningful.

Emotional numbness can also lead to problems in your personal relationships. If you’re not able to express your emotions, you may have trouble communicating with your partner or loved ones. This can cause distance and tension in your relationships.

In addition, emotional numbness can interfere with your ability to make decisions. When you’re not in touch with your emotions, you may have trouble understanding what you’re feeling and making choices based on those feelings. This can lead to poor decision-making and result in negative consequences.

Emotional numbness can be caused by trauma, grief, stress, or anxiety. It can also be a side effect of medication or a symptom of depression. 

Treatment for emotional numbness will vary depending on the underlying cause. For instance, if it’s caused by a mental health condition, treatment may include medication and therapy. If it’s caused by substance abuse, treatment may involve detoxification and rehabilitation.

What Causes Emotional Numbness?

1. Traumatic events

I. Natural disaster

Natural disasters can cause emotional numbness for a variety of reasons: The trauma of the event can lead to dissociation, which is a form of numbing. 

Dissociation is a defense mechanism that allows us to disconnect from our emotions and the reality of what is happening around us. 

It is a survival mechanism that helps us to cope with overwhelming situations.

Natural disasters can also cause physical injuries and damage to homes and possessions, leading to feelings of loss, grief, and anxiety. 

These feelings can be so overwhelming that we numb ourselves to them in order to survive.

ii. Death of a loved one

The death of a loved one is another common cause of emotional numbness. The pain of loss can be so great that it numbs the emotions. 

Like dissociation, this is often a defense mechanism to help deal with the overwhelming sadness and grief. 

Additionally, the shock of a loved one’s death can also lead to emotional numbness. This is because the brain is trying to process the sudden and unexpected loss. 

In some cases, people may feel emotionally numb after the death of a loved one because they are in denial.  Denial can be a way to cope with the pain and grief associated with loss. 

Finally, some people may feel emotionally numb because they are unable to process their emotions. This can be due to other mental health issues.

If you’re struggling after the death of a loved one, reach out for help. Talk to your doctor or a therapist about what you’re going through. There are also support groups available for people who are grieving. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who can offer comfort and understanding.

ii. Sexual assault

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or sexuality. 

Emotional numbness is a common reaction to sexual assault. The numbing may be a way to cope with the intense emotions and memories associated with the assault.

Some survivors may feel guilty or ashamed after an assault, which can lead to numbing out their emotions. 

Others may struggle with trust issues, feeling like they can’t let anyone in for fear of being hurt again. 

All of these are perfectly normal reactions to such a traumatic event.

If you’re struggling with emotional numbness after a sexual assault, know that you’re not alone and that there is help available. Talk to a therapist or counselor who can help you work through your feelings and start the healing process.

2. Underlying mental health condition

I. Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders, affecting millions of people around the world. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and emptiness. People with depression may also experience difficulty sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

ii. . Anxiety

Anxiety is a mental health condition characterized by excessive worry, fear, and unease. It can make it difficult to concentrate or relax and can lead to avoidance of certain situations or activities. Anxiety can also lead to emotional numbing as a way of avoiding potential triggers for anxiety attacks.

iii. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event. It can cause intrusive thoughts and memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and extreme anxiety. PTSD can cause emotional numbness as a way of numbing out the painful memories associated with the trauma.

iv. Certain medications

Some medications, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can cause emotional numbness as a side effect. If you think your medication is causing emotional numbness, talk to your doctor about changing your dosage or switching to another medication.

Dangers of Emotional Numbness

When we numb our emotions, we are also numbing our ability to feel joy, love, and happiness. We may think we are protecting ourselves from pain, but in reality, we are only causing ourselves more harm. Emotional numbness can lead to:

Sleep problems

When we numb our emotions, we also numb our ability to feel and connect. This can lead to sleep problems, as we no longer have the emotional outlets that help us relax and wind down at night. We may find ourselves tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable or fall asleep.

In addition, numbing our emotions can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or disordered eating. These behaviors can further disrupt our sleep, creating a vicious cycle of wakefulness and fatigue.

Digestive issues

Digestive issues can be a common symptom of emotional numbness. For many people, feeling emotionally numb can manifest as physical symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and nausea. 

Besides, our digestive system is very sensitive to our emotions and stress levels, and these symptoms can be a sign that your digestive system is struggling to cope with the emotional stress you’re experiencing.

Relationship issues

When we numb our emotions, we can no longer feel the love and connection that’s essential for healthy relationships. 

We may still be able to fake it for a while, but eventually, the cracks will start to show. We may withdraw from our partner, become distant and cold, or stop being interested in the relationship.

Without emotional intimacy, relationships can quickly become dysfunctional and even abusive. If you’re in a relationship with someone who is emotionally numb, it’s important to reach out for help. Both of you need to learn how to express your emotions in a healthy way.

Substance abuse

Those who are emotionally numb may not even realize that they’re numbing themselves. They may think that they’re just using substances recreationally or socially. However, over time, the emotional numbing can cause them to become dependent on substances. This dependence can lead to addiction and further health complications.

Social isolation and loneliness

Emotional numbness can cause social isolation and loneliness for several reasons. 

For one, when we’re emotionally numb, we don’t feel the same connection to other people that we normally would. This can make us feel isolated from those around us, even if they’re physically present. 

Additionally, emotional numbness can cause us to withdraw from social activities and interactions, further perpetuating feelings of loneliness. 

Finally, the numbing of our emotions can make it difficult to experience positive emotions, leading to a general sense of unhappiness. 

Strategies to Overcome Emotional Numbness

If you’re feeling emotionally numb, it can be difficult to know how to cope. The good news is that there are steps you can take to start feeling better.

1. Obtain a mental health diagnosis

If you think you might be experiencing emotional numbness, the first thing you should do is to see a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis. Emotional numbness can be a symptom of various mental health conditions, so it’s important to rule out any underlying causes.

During your appointment, your mental health professional will ask you questions about your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life. They may also ask about your medical history and any family history of mental illness. Be as honest and open as you can during your appointment, as this will give your mental health professional the best information to work with.

After completing a thorough evaluation, your mental health professional can give you a diagnosis and help you develop a treatment plan. 

2. Connect with others

Talking to a trusted friend or family member about what you’re going through can help you feel less alone and more understood. Additionally, consider joining a support group or therapy. There, you can talk openly about your feelings with people who are going through similar experiences.

3. Try some relaxation techniques

Stress and anxiety can contribute to emotional numbness, so it’s important to find ways to relax your mind and body. There are many different relaxation techniques, such as taking deep breaths and meditation – find out what works for you.

4. Express yourself creatively

Creative expression can help you access your emotions and release them in a healthy way. Whether you enjoy painting, writing, singing, or other forms of creative expression, allow yourself to express your emotions through art.

5. Don’t forget to take care of yourself physically

Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are all important for maintaining your mental health. When you’re taking care of your body, it’s easier to cope with difficult emotions.

6. Be patient with yourself

Overcoming emotional numbness is a process, and it is important to be patient with yourself as you work through it. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel and that everyone experiences emotions differently. Allow yourself the time and space to explore your emotions at your own pace.

7. Engage in activities that make you feel good

Another strategy is to engage in activities that make you feel good. This could include things like exercise, spending time with friends and family, or doing something you enjoy. Doing things that make you happy can help you break out of your emotional numbness and start feeling again.

8. Identify your emotions

When you’re feeling emotionally numb, it can be difficult to identify your emotions. However, there are a few things you can do to start reconnecting with your emotions:

1. Identify your triggers. What situations or thoughts lead to feeling emotionally numb? Once you know your triggers, you can start to avoid them or deal with them in a different way.

2. Be mindful of your body. Pay attention to how your body feels when you’re experiencing different emotions. What does happiness feel like in your body? What does sadness feel like?

3. Check in with yourself regularly. Throughout the day, take a few minutes to check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. This will help you become more aware of your emotional state and better able to manage it.

4. Talk about your feelings. It can be difficult to open up about how we’re really feeling, but it’s important to do if you want to start overcoming emotional numbness.

5. Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you make sense of them and start to see patterns in your emotions.

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Final Thoughts

Emotional numbness is a real and dangerous issue that many people experience, often without realizing it. It can manifest in the form of physical issues or mental health struggles, and can be detrimental to your overall well-being. 

The best way to combat emotional numbness is to take care of yourself by finding outlets for your feelings and relying on support systems when necessary. 

By understanding what emotional numbness is and how it affects us, we can work towards creating healthier relationships with ourselves and those around us.

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