When the world feels overwhelming, and emotions become difficult to process, it is quite possible that you are experiencing a phenomenon known as emotional blunting. Emotional blunting is a condition in which your emotions seem muted or less intense than usual. It can feel like a fog has descended over your senses – leaving you feeling numb and disconnected from the world around you.
The good news is there are ways to combat emotional blunting and reconnect with the emotions that make you feel alive. Here’s what you need to know about this condition and how to get back on track.
What Is Emotional Blunting?
Emotional blunting refers to a condition in which you find it difficult to feel and express emotions. This condition can make you feel disconnected from the world around you and unable to connect with your own emotions or those of others. It is not a mental health disorder and does not necessarily indicate an underlying mental health issue, but it can be a sign that something is wrong.
In order to better understand emotional blunting, it’s helpful to consider what emotions are and how they are normally experienced. Emotions are a type of communication between your brain and body, providing information about the world around you and helping you respond appropriately. It is normal for people to experience a wide range of emotions – from joy to sadness, anger to fear – but when these emotions become too intense or overwhelming, it can lead to emotional blunting.
What Causes Emotional Blunting?
The exact causes of emotional blunting are not yet known, but some factors that may contribute include trauma and chronic stress, substance abuse, or hormonal imbalances. Emotional blunting in patients taking certain medications such as antidepressants and antipsychotics is often reported. Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential causes:
Stress or Trauma
Stress and trauma can cause you to shut down so that you can cope with the difficult circumstances occurring in your life. After a traumatic event, it’s natural to want to disengage with your emotions. However, learning how to cope with these feelings can help you process the events going on and allow you the opportunity to move forward.
If your emotional blunting is the result of a difficult event or prolonged stress, it is important to seek professional help in order to process and manage these feelings.
Some substances can interfere with the brain’s ability to process and feel emotions, leading to emotional blunting. Relying heavily on drugs or alcohol to function can often lead to feeling numb even when you are not using the substance.
Hormones such as cortisol or serotonin can affect our emotional state, leading to a feeling of numbness or disconnection.
Some medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid or chronic fatigue syndrome, can contribute to emotional blunting.
Mental Health Disorders
Some mental disorders, such as certain symptoms of depression and different types of posttraumatic stress disorder, can cause emotional blunting. People often describe this sensation as “nothing is appealing” or “everything feels the same”.
Certain psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants or antipsychotics, can lead to emotional blunting.
What Can You Do To Combat Emotional Blunting?
The good news is that there are ways to help combat emotional blunting and reconnect with your emotions. Here are some of the steps you can take:
Taking time each day to be mindful of your feelings and be present in the moment can help you reconnect with yourself on a deeper level. Journaling, meditative breathing, and taking some time outside can all be helpful grounding tools.
Talk to a Therapist
Talk therapy can help you process difficult emotions and provide coping strategies for dealing with emotional blunting. Sometimes, talking about your situation can help you feel a lot better, even if you don’t find a solution right away.
Practice Self Care
Taking time each day to treat yourself kindly and nurture your emotional well-being is an important part of reconnecting with your emotions. Be sure to do something that you enjoy, or used to enjoy doing. At the moment, you may not experience feelings of joy or contentment, but in time, participating in activities you love can help you begin to feel again.
Physical activity can help release tension in the body and reduce stress levels, which can lead to improved emotional regulation. Yoga, cardio, and even going for a light swim are excellent ways to get moving.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can provide essential nutrients that are necessary for good mental health and emotional well-being.
Maintaining relationships with friends and family can help provide emotional support during difficult times. Messaging, phone calls, or even doing a regular movie night with some friends can be a great way to feel connected.
Seek Professional Help
If you are struggling with emotional blunting, it is important to seek professional help in order to process and manage these feelings. Some mental health treatments may have positive and negative effects. It’s important to get in touch with a mental health professional who can guide you through recommended treatment options.
Try a Different Treatment
Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) may experience emotional blunting due to the antidepressant medications that they are taking. If you are experiencing emotional blunting or a decrease in emotional responsiveness, it might be a result of your antidepressant treatment medication. Because antidepressant medication alters and regulates brain chemicals, it may cause adverse emotional side effects. One of the most common types of antidepressant medication, serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) inhibit emotional responses and may cause emotional blunting.
If you are experiencing antidepressant-induced emotional blunting, you should learn about alternative treatments for depression. Although antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed treatment for depression and other mental health disorders, other treatments such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy, or ketamine therapy are often more effective than antidepressants, without many of the systemic side effects.
When Antidepressants Cause Emotional Blunting
Antidepressant medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are some of the most prescribed medications in the world. SSRIs are commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, and other negative symptoms, but they can also have the side effect of emotional blunting. When antidepressants cause emotional blunting in patients with major depressive disorder or another chronic psychiatric disorder, they may report a remission of their depression, but also report feeling empty, disconnected, or robotic. If you experience emotional blunting caused by an SSRI and feel emotionally numb, it is important to speak with your doctor about alternatives.
Some Alternatives to SSRIs
If you are taking an SSRI and want to reduce your risk of emotional blunting when treating bipolar and unipolar depression, there are other treatments that may be more effective for you to manage your negative emotions. These include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy – CBT is a type of psychotherapy that can help you identify negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with healthier alternatives.
- Nutritional supplements – Certain vitamins and minerals can act as natural antidepressants and have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression.
- Herbal remedies – Some herbs, such as St. John’s Wort or Kava Kava, have been found to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- TMS – Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive technique that can help reduce symptoms of depression without the side effects of medications.
- Ketamine – Ketamine therapy is a powerful form of antidepressant treatment that often reduces symptoms of major depressive disorder and other negative emotions in some people when other treatments in depressed patients have failed.
Alternative treatments can be a great way to reduce the risk of emotional blunting while still treating depression and anxiety. However, it is important to speak with your doctor before starting any new treatment.
When it comes to emotional blunting in major depressive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, remember that you are not alone. There are treatments and coping strategies available that can help you reconnect with your emotions and reduce the risk of experiencing this condition. With the right support, you can take steps towards feeling like yourself again.
The Bottom Line
By taking the time to understand emotional blunting and taking proactive steps to reconnect with your emotions, it is possible to reduce the effects of this condition and lead a more fulfilling life. Talking to a psychiatrist or another mental health professional can be beneficial in gaining insight into your feelings and developing healthy coping strategies. With the right help, it is possible to manage emotional blunting and reconnect with yourself in meaningful ways.
At Neuro Wellness Spa, we understand the challenges associated with mental health conditions. Our psychiatrists provide a range of services such as medication management, Spravato, and TMS Therapy to help you manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Our team of experienced mental health professionals is here to help you regain control of your emotions. Contact us today for more information about how you can start reclaiming your life.