Understanding emotional numbness
There can be times in your life when it seems like you’re no longer reacting emotionally to the world around you. You may notice that people or activities that once made you feel happy are no longer making you feel that way. Instead, you might be feeling numb or a sense of disconnection from your surroundings. It’s important to remember that with the right treatment, these feelings can go away.
What causes emotional numbness?
There are a number of causes of emotional numbness. Some of the common causes include:
Its important to note that some medications that treat depression and anxiety have side effects that can include emotional numbness.
When you experience a stressful situation, your body can start releasing stress hormones. These hormones can affect your limbic system which is the control centre for your emotions and they can also interact with other hormones. Both of these processes can lead to feelings of emotional numbness.
Managing emotional numbness
It’s best to seek professional help to work out the underlying cause of emotional numbness and appropriate treatment. In the meantime, there are a number of things you can do including making changes to your lifestyle and behaviours.
Seeing your GP
Your GP can assess you, prescribe some medications, and refer you to a mental health professional if necessary. They can put you on a mental health plan, and this means Medicare may help pay for up to 10 sessions with a mental health professional. You can learn more about the different types of mental health professionals at Healthdirect Australia.
Getting help now over the phone or online
If you or someone close to you needs help now, there are a number of phonelines and websites available.
For immediate help in a crisis:
For general mental health support:
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
A healthy diet can help you manage your energy levels and make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. For more information, read the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.
Get plenty of sleep – a good night’s sleep can reduce your risk of developing mental illness. For help on getting a good rest, read our tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
Exercise - regular moderate physical activity is one of the best ways to boost your mood. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise on most days of the week.
Connecting with others
Reaching out to your support system including your friends, family and colleagues is one way to deal with emotional numbness. They may be able to help you feel a connection again and you might feel relief from talking to them about your symptoms.
Stress can be a major contributing factor to emotional numbness. One of the best things you can do is to start practicing meditation or mindfulness to help you reduce your stress levels. For more information, read about Mindfulness at SANE Australia.
Other things you can do to reduce your stress levels include:
- resolving personal and relationship conflicts
- doing things you enjoy
- managing your workload
- taking time to relax
To find out more about managing stress, read our article on Stress and your body.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified health care professional.