Explaining Emotional Numbness

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

This is a very personal post as this is based entirely from personal experience. As you may have expected, my blog is partly focused on mental health because due to my own experiences of how cruel and tough it can be to live with. I have unipolar depression and I have had this for many years now, and one of the very first symptoms for me was emotional numbness. This is often also known as anhedonia, and is described as a lack of interest, and having difficulty feeling positive emotions.

This first hit me at aged sixteen, it was a gradual process but I soon realised that I didn’t feel like myself. This was the event which started my search learning about mental illnesses, and in particular, depression. Many other symptoms soon followed, with my worst point being at aged seventeen. People often describe emotional numbness as ‘feeling dead inside’, and this also applies to my experience. All of a sudden, life doesn’t seem interesting or ‘emotional’ anymore. I find my depression particularly hard when people try to tell me an amusing joke or show me a funny video – I feel such a fake. While the body can still create the physical action of laughter, and you can still show this on your face, the emotional element inside just isn’t there. It makes you feel like an actor, putting on a performance for those around you. Upsetting scenes during films simply don’t have the same effect, I can produce tears but the emotional feeling simply doesn’t exist. This feeling is near impossible to explain without experiencing it yourself, yet it’s very real.


Being a part of my depression, it could be treated alongside. Yet it is said that there are treatments for emotional numbness in itself; including grounding yourself to ‘live in the moment’, or to focus on your body and physical sensations using deep breathing or your senses. Many people turn to different types of exercise such as yoga or running, to get the adrenaline flowing and heart racing, to allow yourself to feel more ‘alive’. It can often feel like you’re a zombie, walking through life like it’s not your own. Every day feels the same and life becomes monotonous. People may think of depression as ‘feeling down’ all the time, but it can feel like nothing at all. I don’t necessarily ‘feel down’, it’s more that I feel nothing, totally numb to the world around me. Nothing is funny. Nothing is sad.


Never underestimate the value of emotion. I don’t know when I’ll next truly feel emotion, and although people often wish for ‘the feeling of nothing’ due to traumatic events or many difficult emotional journeys – the opposite can be so difficult. Exam results, marriages, funerals, ‘dream’ jobs and so many more may produce nothing for me. Life feels to become meaningless and I can’t wait to feel emotions once more.


Have you had any experience of emotional numbness or anhedonia? What techniques have you found to be effective? Comment below your opinions or experiences :) .


Take care, Sophie x


As always, please bear in mind that I am not a mental health professional or any other type of professional, this is a hobby for me and is for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as any kind of advice. I am not liable for any consequences as a result of this information and if readers rely on any of the information on my blog, it is at their own risk. I cannot confirm that all information is correct, accurate or reliable. The information is true to the best of my knowledge, yet there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. This information isn’t intended as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have, or believe to have, a mental illness, please contact a mental health professional.

Note: This picture belongs to Wix.

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