What Is Emotional Blunting? Know Its Symptoms, Causes And Risk Factors

Emotional blunting can lead to many other mental health disorders. Know its symptoms to be aware.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Jun 17, 2021Updated at: Jun 17, 2021
What Is Emotional Blunting? Know Its Symptoms, Causes And Risk Factors

We often quote that our life is like a rollercoaster ride. But what it actually means is that there are many ups and downs in our life which we need to handle and move forward accordingly. People can experience strong emotions which can sometimes have a long term effect. This difficulty in coping up with extreme range of emotions is called emotional blunting. Depending upon the person and cause of it, it can vary from a few minutes to numerous months. Let us know more about emotional blunting and factors affecting it.

What Is Emotional Blunting?

Emotional blunting is a mental state therefore to understand it better we took help of Dr. Tanu Singh, Clinical Psychologist and Therapist from Healthcare Clinic, Lucknow. She says that emotional blunting can be termed as a period in which a person becomes emotionally unstable and is not able to react to any given situation. 


People having emotional blunting face very unpleasant numbness that creates a void inside them and makes them reluctant to face certain situations. Under some cases, the person becomes so numb that he does not have sense to react to daily routine and problems. It can be due to substance abuse, having trauma or mental health disorder etc.

Symptoms Of Emotional Blunting

The most evident symptom of emotional blunting is numbness. But apart from it various factors can result to different symptoms depending upon the cause of it. A person suffering from this mental phase can experience inability to express emotions and may have behavioural changes. This is known as blunted effect. People with this effect are mostly those who are facing some kind of depression which can be moderate to severe. It can also appear alongside schizophrenia or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Some of the common symptoms for emotional blunting can be as follows-

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty socializing and maintain relationships
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to feel happy or sad
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Loss of love and affection towards self and others
  • Lack of concentration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Reckless behaviour and self harm


What Causes Emotional Blunting?

There can be numerous reasons for a person to go through emotional blunting. Most of the cause of emotional blunting can also be factors that cause these disorders. This means a person suffering from schizophrenia can cause emotional blunting and vice-versa. Let us know some of the major causes of this mental condition-

1. Antidepressant Medications- A research by National Institute of Health shows that some people who are given anti-depressant medications for a long while can suffer emotional blunting. It can also be caused due to sedatives like serotonin reuptake inhibitors that reduce the ability to feel emotions.

2. Schizophrenia- People with schizophrenia experience negative emotions which makes them unstable mentally. This mental disorder can lead the person to emotional blunting and make them vulnerable to emotional unrest and functional disability.

Also Read- How To Differentiate Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

3. Major depressive disorder- As the name suggests it is related to depression. A person may feel like having a void inside them and unable to react to daily problems. In this time it is hard to understand negative or positive emotions which cause emotional blunting.

4. Alcohol Abuse- Alcohol acts as a depressant for central nervous system and has strong affect on mind of the person. Too much alcohol which can also be called alcohol use disorder can be a major factor which can cause emotional blunting as the person becomes vulnerable to numbness.


5. Borderline personality Disorder- This disorder can cause strange and intense changes in mood of a person. In moments a person may be extremely happy; on the other side he may become severely depressed. Hence the state of the person causes emotional blunting and it is hard to take the person out of this situation. Sometimes borderline personality disorder and emotional blunting cause the person to disassociate himself from rest of the world and their self.

6. PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can also cause emotional blunting as the person suffering from it goes through a traumatic experience which may affect his mental health adversely. At times he may loose on emotions and detach himself from other. Traumas can also cause flashbacks which makes the person cause emotional blunting.

Risk Factors Associated with Emotional Blunting

Some of the common risk factors of emotional blunting can include mental health disorders and conditions of stress and excessive substance abuse. These risk factors are most reported in cases of emotional blunting. Risk factors are-

  • Severe depression
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia diagnosis
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Post traumatic stress disorder

If you have symptoms of any of these disorders or emotional blunting, it is best to consult a psychologist and get a therapy to get better as soon as possible.

Also Read- What Is Psoriasis? Know Symptoms, Causes And Types


Emotional Blunting is a phase where the person is unable to handle the extreme emotions and becomes numb. This makes the person mentally unstable to perform any action or do any activity which is normal routine for other. He may feel detached and avoid socializing. A person suffering through emotional blunting could face trauma, stress and substance abuse. The severity can cause post traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder and many other mental health conditions. The best way to get out of it is to seek professional help as soon as you notice any symptoms of emotional blunting.

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