The Silent Symptom: 4 Causes of Numbness and Depression

Feeling numb is a common symptom for those dealing with depression, but is it actually a sign? It can be hard to tell from the outside, as sometimes people mask their sadness with other emotions. Depression is more than just feeling the blues; it is an intensely challenging state of being, and recognizing numbness as one possible indication is important to understand how to get help if needed.

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at is feeling numb a sign of depression so that you can make informed decisions about your mental health.

What Makes You Feel Numb

Feeling numb can come from a variety of sources, some related to mental health and others not. Stress is one common cause, as it can lead to feelings of disassociation and disconnection from reality. Anxiety can also produce this feeling if left unchecked, as constant worry takes its toll on an individual’s emotional well-being.

Even physical pain or trauma can lead to numbing sensations in order to protect ourselves from further harm. Other times, people may feel numb due to social issues like discrimination or prejudice that make them disconnected from their environment.

On a neurological level, feeling numb has been linked to changes in the brain’s pathways affecting how we perceive emotion and pleasure. This could potentially explain why depression often leads to an emotional disconnect, as the pathways in the brain become less responsive to pleasant emotions.

What Does It Mean To Go Mentally Numb?

Mentally numb is a term that describes how an individual feels disconnected from their emotions. It can range from feeling nothing to complete apathy. People who are going through this may not be able to identify or express any feelings at all, or they may even feel like they simply don’t care about anything.

It can also manifest in physical ways, such as the person feeling emotionally drained and exhausted.

They might have trouble sleeping or concentrating on tasks, and find it difficult to engage in activities that used to bring them joy. In addition, there may be a sense of detachment from other people, which could lead to social withdrawal and isolation.

Is feeling numb a sign of depression

When people refer to being “mentally numb” they generally mean that they have lost the ability to feel any emotion. This can be incredibly disconcerting and frightening, as it feels like you are completely disconnected from your own senses and reactions. It might also cause you to feel isolated and depressed, as the lack of emotional response makes it seem like no one would understand or care if you were to share your struggles with them.

Unfortunately, when someone is dealing with depression, feeling numb can become a regular occurrence. This is because depression tends to dull all emotions, even ones that would normally bring joy or excitement. As a result, those struggling with depression can often find themselves in a state of mind-numbing where nothing seems

7 Common Symptoms Of Feeling Numb

Another point to consider when asking if feeling numb is a sign of depression is what other symptoms may accompany this sensation. It’s important to note that many people experience different feelings and reactions while dealing with depression. Some common signs associated with feeling numb include:

  1. Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once enjoyed.
  2. Lack of motivation or energy.
  3. Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  4. Trouble expressing emotions.
  5. Withdrawing from social situations.
  6. Avoidance of certain topics or activities.
  7. Feelings of emptiness and lack of purpose. 

If you are experiencing any combination of the above symptoms, along with feeling numb for an extended period of time, it may be worth discussing further with a mental health professional. 

Is Feeling Numb A Sign Of Depression

The answer to the question is feeling numb is a sign of depression is complex and depends on many factors. In some cases, feeling numb may be a sign that someone is struggling with depression, as it can be a symptom of the condition. It has been linked to changes in the brain’s pathways affecting how we perceive emotion and pleasure, which could explain why depression often leads to an emotional disconnect.

Also, if someone is experiencing other symptoms such as loss of interest in activities or hobbies once enjoyed, lack of motivation or energy, or difficulty expressing emotions then this could potentially be indicative of depression.

Research also suggests that feeling emotionally disconnected from one’s environment and people around them, combined with long-term sadness and low mood, could be indicative of depression. For example, a study commissioned by the National Institute of Mental Health found that people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) reported “anhedonia” or an inability to experience pleasure from activities they previously enjoyed.

This lack of feeling as well as other symptoms can lead to a sense of numbness and disconnection from the world.

It is important to note that feeling numb is not always indicative of depression and could be caused by a variety of factors such as stress, anxiety, physical pain or trauma, social issues like discrimination or prejudice, and more. It can also be part of the normal range of emotions experienced in life. Thus it is important to discuss your feelings with a mental health professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Ultimately, feeling numb may be a sign of depression but it is important to consider other factors as well in order to understand the root cause behind it. If you suspect that you or someone else is struggling with depression, then don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Mental health professionals are available to provide support and guidance toward managing symptoms and improving overall well-being.

Symptoms Of Depression That Involve Feeling Numb

Feeling numb is a very common symptom of depression and can be experienced in different ways. It can manifest in a variety of ways. Let’s explore some of the other symptoms associated with depression that involve feeling numb. These include: 

  1. Loss of Interest in Activities and People: Feeling numb as a symptom of depression is often accompanied by a loss of interest in activities and people that one used to enjoy. This feeling of apathy can lead to reduced motivation, lack of energy, and an overall sense of disconnection from the things that once brought joy.
  2. Difficulty Concentrating and Making Decisions: Depression can make it hard to concentrate on tasks or make decisions, leading to an overwhelming sense of mental fatigue or “brain fog”. This type of mental exhaustion can lead to further feelings of numbness and detachment from the world around you.
  3. Low Self-Esteem, Worthlessness, or Guilt: These are common symptoms associated with depression that involve feeling numbness. The inability to focus on positive thoughts or look at oneself in a positive light can result in feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and shame which can contribute to the numbing effect associated with depression. Furthermore, this numbing sensation can cause further difficulty in seeing the value in oneself or engaging with activities or people one used to enjoy.
  4. Changes in Sleep Habits or Appetite: People with depression often experience changes in their sleeping patterns. This may include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early in the morning. An increase or decrease in appetite is also commonly experienced with depression and can lead to significant weight loss or gain.
  5. Physical Aches and Pains With No Explanation: Depression can cause physical pain as well as psychological symptoms, such as headaches, muscle aches, digestive issues, and fatigue that don’t have an identifiable cause. Feeling numb is a common symptom of depression and may be experienced alongside these physical ailments.
  6. Emotional Detachment or Indifference: It can be a sign of depression when an individual is feeling numb and disconnected from their emotions and the world around them. They may appear to be indifferent and apathetic to their own experiences and those of others. They may no longer take pleasure in activities that they used to enjoy, become more isolated, and have difficulties forming meaningful connections with people.
  7. Suicidal Thoughts or Ideations: This can also represent a symptom of depression involving feeling numb. This can manifest as having thoughts about ending one’s life, talking about wanting to die, searching for ways to commit suicide, or even making plans for how one would go about it. It’s important to note that these thoughts aren’t something that should be ignored; if someone is having suicidal ideations, it is best to seek professional help immediately.

Causes Of Numbness Related To Depression 

Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from environmental to biological. While the exact cause of depression is often difficult to pinpoint, there are some known risk factors that may contribute to feelings of numbness and detachment associated with the disorder. These include:

1. Stressful Life Events Or Traumatic Experiences

Stressful life events or traumatic experiences can be a major factor in causing numbness related to depression. When an individual is faced with a difficult situation, they often cope by disengaging emotionally. This lack of emotional connection can lead to feelings of numbness and disconnection, which are common signs of depression.

Additionally, traumatic experiences can also cause physical changes in the brain that make it harder for individuals to regulate their emotions and moods, leading to further feelings of detachment and numbness.

2. Genetic Predisposition To Depression

Genetic predisposition to depression is another potential cause of numbness related to depression. Research has suggested that certain genetic factors may contribute to the development of depressive symptoms, including feelings of emptiness and detachment from others.

For instance, studies have found that those who carry certain polymorphisms in the serotonin transporter gene (SERT) may be more likely to experience these symptoms than those without this gene mutation. People with a family history of depression are more likely to struggle with depression-related symptoms such as numbness than those without such a background.

3. Brain Chemistry Imbalance

When it comes to depression, an imbalance in the neurotransmitters and hormones that regulate mood can cause feelings of numbness. This is because neurotransmitters are responsible for a number of processes in the brain, including regulating our emotions, allowing us to experience pleasure, and helping us cope with stress.

Imbalance can be the leading cause to feeling numb

A disruption in the production or regulation of these chemicals can lead to numbness as a symptom of depression.

4. Substance Abuse Or Medications 

Substance abuse, such as the use of alcohol or drugs, can also lead to feelings of numbness associated with depression. This is because substance use often interferes with our ability to process and manage emotion, leading to a feeling of emptiness or disconnection from our environment.

Additionally, certain medications used to treat mental health conditions can cause side effects such as increased numbing sensations as well as changes in mood. If you’re experiencing numbness related to depression, it’s important to talk with your doctor about any substances or medications you may be taking that could be causing these symptoms.

17 Tips For Dealing With Emotional Numbness

Dealing with emotional numbness caused by depression can be a difficult but necessary process. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing these feelings, there are some strategies that may help. Here are a few tips for dealing with emotional numbness:

1. Reach Out To A Mental Health Professional:

One of the best ways to deal with emotional numbness is to reach out to a mental health professional. A qualified therapist can provide personalized guidance and support in managing your symptoms, as well as refer you to other professionals such as psychiatrists or nutritionists if needed.

2. Connect With Others:

Developing meaningful connections with friends, family, or support groups can be an effective way of dealing with feelings of numbness. Talking about your experiences and hearing how others cope can help reduce feelings of isolation and give you the strength to work through these challenging moments.

3. Work On Self-Awareness And Mindfulness:

Becoming more aware of your thoughts and emotions can be a powerful tool in managing depression-related symptoms. Taking the time to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment can help you develop a better understanding of yourself and how to respond to emotional numbness.

4. Exercise Regularly:

Exercise can be an important part of managing emotional numbness, as it releases endorphins that can boost mood and provide some relief from depressive symptoms. Taking regular walks or going for a run are great ways to get your body moving while also providing a sense of accomplishment.

5. Take Time For Self-Care:

Self-care is essential for dealing with emotional numbness, so take some time each day to do something just for yourself. Whether it’s taking a long bath, listening to music, or reading a book, taking some time for yourself can help you feel more connected to your emotions.

6. Keep A Journal:

Writing can be an effective way to express and process difficult feelings. Keeping a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences can help you identify patterns in your behavior, as well as provide insight into why you may feel emotionally numb.

7. Explore Creative Outlets:

Exploring creative outlets such as painting or writing can be a great way to connect with your emotions in a positive manner. Creativity allows us to explore our innermost feelings without judgment, which can be therapeutic and healing.

8. Practice Relaxation Techniques:

Learning relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises can be helpful for dealing with emotional numbness. Taking some time each day to focus on your breathing and being present at the moment can help you reduce stress and gain clarity.

9. Eat A Balanced Diet:

Eating a balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats is essential for managing depression-related symptoms. Eating well can provide energy for tackling difficult emotions and provide essential vitamins and minerals that can boost mood.

10. Limit Stimulants:

Stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine can interfere with the body’s natural processes, leading to further feelings of numbness or disconnection from our environment. Limiting these substances can help bring balance back to your system and reduce depressive symptoms.

111. Get Enough Sleep:

Adequate sleep is important for helping the body and mind recover from stress and emotional disturbances. Try to set a consistent sleep schedule and aim for at least 7-8 hours of shut-eye each night.

12. Seek Out Positive Inspiration:

Finding inspiration in activities or quotes that you enjoy can provide a much-needed boost when feeling emotionally numb. Whether it’s listening to your favorite podcast, reading an uplifting book, or looking at photos of nature, positive inspiration can remind us of our strength and resilience in times of difficulty.

13. Talk To Trusted Loved Ones:

Talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can be of great help when dealing with emotional numbness. Connecting with supportive friends or family members can provide a sense of comfort and validation.

14. Seek Professional Help:

If you’re having difficulty managing emotional numbness on your own, it may be helpful to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. Mental health professionals can provide guidance and support in developing strategies for managing depression-related symptoms in a healthy manner.

15. Connect With Nature:

Spending time in nature can be an effective way to boost mood and foster a sense of connectedness with the world around us. Going for a walk in the park or spending some time gardening can help reduce symptoms of depression and provide much-needed relief from emotional numbness.

16. Reach Out For Help:

If you’re struggling to manage emotional numbness on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from loved ones or mental health professionals. Having access to support is essential for regaining a sense of control over our thoughts and feelings, especially when dealing with depression.

17. Develop Healthy Coping Strategies:

Finding healthy ways to cope with emotional numbness is important for managing depressive symptoms in a positive manner. Exploring activities such as yoga, journaling, deep breathing exercises, or art can be helpful in processing intense emotions and releasing stress. Experimenting with different strategies can help you find which ones work best for you.

These tips can help you better manage emotional numbness and find relief from depressive symptoms. Keeping an open dialogue with trusted loved ones or mental health professionals, as well as exploring creative outlets, can also be beneficial. With the right tools and support, you can learn to cope with emotional numbness more effectively and live a healthier, happier life.

Treatment Options For Depression-Related Numbness

When feeling emotionally numb, it can be difficult to know where to turn for help. Thankfully there are a variety of treatment options available for those who are struggling with depression-related numbness. From therapy and medication to lifestyle changes and self-care practices, addressing emotional numbness is possible with the right resources and support.

Here are some helpful tips for managing depression-related numbing:

1. Psychotherapy And Counseling

Psychotherapy and counseling are two of the most common treatment options for managing depression-related numbness. Through therapy, individuals can gain insight into the root causes of their symptoms and learn healthy coping strategies for dealing with difficult emotions.

Talking to a therapist can provide a sense of understanding and validation, helping to reduce feelings of isolation and foster self-compassion. Other potential benefits include improving interpersonal relationships, gaining clarity about one’s life purpose, and developing stronger problem-solving skills.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing negative thinking patterns and behaviors in order to reduce symptoms of depression. This form of talk therapy can help individuals learn how to identify their own thought processes and develop healthier ways of responding to difficult emotions.

Through CBT, individuals can build self-awareness about their triggers for emotional numbness, learn new coping skills for managing depressive episodes, and practice techniques for regulating moods and emotions. Additionally, CBT can provide invaluable tools for developing problem-solving skills as well as fostering an overall sense of empowerment.

3. Antidepressant Medications  

Antidepressant medications are sometimes prescribed to help manage symptoms of depression, which can include emotional numbness. These types of drugs work by altering the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, resulting in a reduction in depressive symptoms. While antidepressants can be effective in reducing depressive symptoms, they need to be taken under close medical supervision due to potential side effects and interactions with other drugs or supplements.

It’s important to note that it may take several weeks before an individual experience any noticeable improvement from these medications. Also, it is important to remember that antidepressant medications should always be used together with other forms of therapy for optimal results.

4. Holistic Remedies For Depression

Holistic remedies for depression can be an effective way to reduce emotional numbness and manage symptoms of depression. Examples of holistic remedies include mindfulness practices, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, massage therapy, and herbal supplements.

Holistic approach can help ease numbness

Many times these types of therapies work best when combined with traditional treatments such as psychotherapy or medication. Incorporating lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, healthy eating habits, getting adequate restful sleep each night, and engaging in meaningful activities can also help improve overall well-being.

By experimenting with different coping strategies and treatment options, individuals struggling with emotional numbness can find ways to effectively manage their symptoms and foster greater emotional well-being. It is important to remember that no single approach works for everyone – everyone’s experience with depression is unique and requires an individualized treatment plan. With the right resources and support, individuals can find paths to greater emotional resilience, self-empowerment, and peace of mind.


Overall, feeling emotionally numb can be a sign of depression and should not be ignored. With the right treatment plan, individuals can reduce feelings of emotional numbness and manage their symptoms of depression. A combination of psychotherapy, medication management, holistic remedies, and lifestyle changes can help foster greater emotional well-being and resilience.

It is important to remember that everyone’s experience with depression is unique and requires an individualized treatment plan. With the right resources and support in place, individuals struggling with emotional numbness can find paths to greater self-empowerment and peace of mind.


Mollica, R. F., MD. (2021, March 18). Numb from the news? Understanding why and what to do may help. Harvard Health.

Huizen, J. (2020, September 30). Feeling numb: What you need to know.

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