Why do I feel dead inside?

In this article we will answer the question “Why do I feel dead inside?” and what you can do about it. 

Why do I feel dead inside?

Here are a few possible reasons why you feel dead inside:

  • Biological functions such as hormonal imbalance
  • Emotional repression in response to something traumatic 
  • Mental disorders
  • Medications
  • Social isolation 
  • Psychological symptoms such as depersonalization, derealization 

While feeling dead inside could mean many things, it is mostly used to describe emotional numbness where the individual who feels dead inside is unable to feel anything. 

This emotional numbness can occur for various reasons, some of which include biological factors such as hormonal imbalances that could be leading to lower affect. It is important that one speak to a doctor to rule out biological causes. 

Other possible explanations include psychological and psychiatric factors related to mental disorders and poor mental health. 

Individuals who have repressed their emotions or suppressed them deliberately after something negative or traumatic happens to them could feel an emotional deadening inside. 

This is often done as a way to protect oneself from the overwhelming emotion one feels, however done too often and for too long might leave the individual’s emotional dead leading to other psychological and social problems. 

Mental disorders such as depersonalisation/derealisation disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc might also cause this feeling where one of the symptoms is anhedonia or flat affect where the individual is unable to feel their emotions. 

Medication and prolonged social isolation can also be part of the reason why an individual feels as such Certain medications such as antidepressants can lead to emotional blunting during treatment.

Writers at Harley therapy notes that prolonged social isolation, as in the case of the 2019 pandemic could also lead to an individual feeling disconnected, and lead to psychological problems related to depression which could make them feel empty and dead inside. 

On an existential note, another reason why people might feel dead inside is because they feel like they have no meaning in life and that their life has no purpose with which they are motivated and driven to do and engage with the world around them.

I feel dead inside, what should I do?

Here are a few things that you can do if you feel dead inside:

Seek out meaningful relationships

Another thing that you can do is to seek out positive relationships that are supportive, that motivate, as well as enable you to grow and expand your interpersonal effectiveness.

Seek out relationships that allow you to grow and experience freedom within healthy boundaries that are respected and maintained. Mutual relationships that focus on mutual growth, equal give and take, and one that is directed towards meaning and fulfilment. 

Focus on self-care

When you are struggling with the break up. You might find it hard to take care of yourself- you might find it hard to eat, wash, wake up, and do other basic things. 

It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward. 

Taking care of your physical needs is very important as it is a way to care for yourself. Taking care of your emotional needs is also important and you can work towards emotional self care after taking care of your physical needs first. 

Allow yourself to feel

As you reflect on what happened in the day time, allow yourself to feel- if you feel ashamed, let yourself feel that- write it down if you want to. 

If you feel further angered- note that down too while you allow yourself to feel angry. You are in control. These feelings are part of your experience, they do not determine your life nor do they determine who you are. 

Express your emotions

Once you get familiar with how you are feeling- take notice that all of these practices in the first few steps might take you days and even weeks, for some people months. 

However, for the sake of your own precious self, take the time to put into practice these steps towards emotional release and as you become familiar, take the risk of expressing them.

Being vulnerable with your feelings- by sharing it with other people or by acknowledging it to yourself- can be a difficult step to take so to make it easier what you can do is to express it more artistically by writing, painting, singing a song, dancing, making a home movie etc. 

Acknowledge your feelings

As you express yourself, how you feel and how heavy it has been for you to hold back all these emotions for so long; take notice of it- don’t react to it rather choose to sit with these emotions- acknowledge them. 

One reason why you might have the tendency to suppress your emotions is because you have been told to do so by someone else or perhaps your emotions have been disregarded by various people in our life for so long- You don’t have to be like them.

Instead, give yourself a hug, hold your own hand, pat your own head in comfort, and allow yourself to express how you feel to yourself with I-statements like “i feel hurt.” “I feel disrespected.” “I feel so sad.” “I feel so alone.”

Seek out professional help

If you have been trying everything mentioned above and none of it seems to be helping, seek out professional help. Emotional numbness can be a sign of anhedonia- which is a symptom of depression. 

While you might not be depressed, being unable to access your emotions is unhealthy in the long run so find a therapist that you can click with- it takes a few tries- and work with them to learn how to emotionally regulate.

Your therapist might also suggest that you cut out medical or biological causes of your inability to cry as well by meeting an ophthalmologist so that they can get a better idea of what is happening to you. 

Make positive lifestyle changes

Take care of yourself. Avoid drinking and doing drugs, instead eat a healthy diet that is full of nutrients and engage in exercise- this can be walks, joining the gym, or running a marathon. 

Make changes that benefit your physical health as well as allow you to engage with a positive crowd. If you think socialisation is not something you want to do, then there are plenty of exercises that you can do alone. 

Make sure you get good sleep by developing a healthy sleep hygiene as well. 

Focus on your strengths. 

Instead of spending your time on your negative thoughts or anticipating your intrusive thoughts, take time and effort to explore your positieve assets. Do this by journaling what strengths you have and this does not have to limit only to abilities but also innate strengths that a person has such as loyalty, civic sense, etc. 

Take time to develop an awareness of your strengths and appreciate yourself for them while also striving to build on these strengths and using them to overcome your challenges. 

Try grounding techniques

Grounding techniques are coping strategies that an individual can use to manage unhelpful feelings and negative intrusive thoughts related to anxiety, depression, and stress. 

These techniques help individuals to step back from these negative feelings and thoughts and allow them to focus on something more objective or neutral such as the world around them, sensations, and also focus on their breath. 

Focusing on the present moment by focusing on what is around them, what they feel, and sense can be a great way to deal with past regrets and future anxieties and in the case of depression, negative thoughts and feelings.

Develop mindfulness

Mindfulness is a state of being and more proficiently a way of life where the individual actively imagines in the act of cultivating full awareness of the present. It can help you to actively divert your mind from pessimism and focus on more optimistic things in your life. 

You can develop mindfulness through the following exercises:

  • Mindful Walking by taking  a walk outside or around your room and start by paying attention to the sensation of your feet in contact with the ground. 

Next, expand your awareness to the sounds and smells. 

Also, expand your vision to what you see. 

Next,  let go of other distractions and walk, as if being mindful of every step is vitally important. (Ackerman, positive psychology)

  • Square Breathing For this exercise, you start by breathing in for four seconds. Then, hold your breath for four seconds, then breathe out for another four seconds. Repeat four times.

Conclusion

In this article we will answer the question “Why do I feel dead inside?” and what you can do about it. 

FAQ related to I feel dead inside

What does it mean when someone says they feel dead inside?

If someone says that they feel dead inside it means that they can’t feel anything- they are unable to feel sad or happy or anything else. 

It is a way to defend oneself from the trauma, where the individual  constantly represses their emotions—consciously and subconsciously—without acknowledging or processing them. 

If they  can’t feel, it is possible that they are so overwhelmed with what has happened that their brain has applied a natural defence mechanism to protect them from what has happened. 

Why do I feel like I’m dead but I’m alive?

If you believe that you are dead, it is possible that you are experiencing Cotard delusion and it  occurs with severe depression and some psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. 

Why does my brain feel empty?

If you feel like your brain is empty, it is possible that you are experiencing brain fog. 

Brain fog can be a symptom of a nutrient deficiency , sleep disorder, bacterial overgrowth from overconsumption of sugar , depression, or even a thyroid condition. 

Why do I have no feelings or emotions?

If you feel like you have no feelings or emotions, it is most probably because you have severe levels of acute elevated stress or nervousness.

It is a way to defend oneself from the trauma, where the individual  constantly represses their emotions—consciously and subconsciously—without acknowledging or processing them.

References

Tucker.J. 7 Steps to Overcome Daily Despair and Start Living Again. Tiny buddha. Retrieved on 2nd March 2022. .https://tinybuddha.com/blog/7-steps-to-overcome-daily-despair-and-start-living-again/

Plumptre.E. What It Means to Feel “Dead Inside”. VerywellMind, Retrieved on 2nd March 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/why-do-i-feel-dead-inside-5210393#toc-conditions-that-cause-you-to-feel-dead-inside

Feeling Empty? What It Means and What to Do. PsychCentral. Retrieved on 2nd March 2022. https://psychcentral.com/blog/stop-feeling-empty

“Why Do I Feel Empty Inside?” Harley Therapy. Retrieved on 2nd March 2022. https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/feel-empty-inside.htm

Fader.S. I Feel Empty: What You Can Do To Help Yourself Regain Meaning. Betterhelp. Retrieved on 2nd March 2022. https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/i-feel-empty-when-a-lack-of-meaning-is-something-more-serious/

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