Every person lives depression in a different way. Some feel a mixture of sadness, anger and discouragement. Others, on the other hand, perceive only a void and the total absence of emotions. It's like having lead in your body and fog in your mind, because when you do not feel anything during a depression, it's as if your own being becomes blurred to stay suspended in absolute nothingness …
Phillip Lopate, a well-known American essayist and writer, once described this same situation in an overpowering poem entitled numbness. He draws a millimeter-like portrait of this kind of depression in which the person lives a complete emotional void. It is, he says, like moving in the ice fields, it is total indifference and a heart that beats to zero degrees, an anorexic illusion that takes us away from the world.
"The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, life itself."
One thing we must first understand about depression is that few diseases can be more complex and multifaceted. Some people have clear symptoms, others, in turn, wear them invisible for months or even years. It affects the sleep, concentration, memory, movement and even language skills of a person.
However, in the middle of this clinical picture, there is something that is not always discussed. This is the one where the patient shows absolute insensitivity, where he says he feels no emotion and perceives only a wall that has completely disconnected him from the world and even from himself.
When you feel nothing during a depression, it's as if your own self was blurry.Share
When you do not feel anything during a depression: what is it?
When you feel nothing during a depression, it's simply because you felt something too intense before, that you did not know how to handle. Thus, an aspect of the clinical literature on this subject indicates that many patients with this characteristic experience a type of "emotional hangover". It's the result of something that, at one point, completely surpassed them. In addition, after the depression itself, there may be other conditions, such as anxiety disorders or even unresolved trauma.
On the other hand, there is also the classic prejudice that affects many people with depression. This disorder is still exclusively associated with sadness. However, in most cases, this reality presents other layers, another architecture. Because depression is not only sadness, it's pessimism, it's anger, it's discouragement … And what happens too is insensitivity, an emotional neutrality that often gets mixed up to other physical symptoms: migraines, muscular pains, digestive problems …
Patients with this profile are also characterized by hypersomnia, they can sleep between 10 and 15 hours a day. They also feel unable to smile or cry as they claim. It's as if their minds and bodies have not only forgotten how it's done, but the very meaning of these emotional gestures. Something so devastating in appearance has several explanations that we will now detail.
The pent-up emotions
When you feel nothing during a depression, it is because you may have been taught since your childhood that it is better to camouflage, hide, swallow what hurts you, disturbs you or worries you. In fact, it is common when, for example, we are experiencing complex family moments, stressful work situations or moments of adversity.
These situations generate strong anxiety, which becomes progressively chronic, until the person becomes depressed. Accustomed for months or years not to release, manage or express worries, fears or sorrows, the brain itself ends up showing this "zero degree" on the emotional scale. Added to this is the formation of a classic mental fog, where it is not only difficult to react to our environment, but also reduces attention, concentration, memory …
A traumatic past
If we read the poem quoted at the beginning, that of Phillip Lopate describing the insensitivity of his depression, we will find a really revealing part. The one where he talks about the fact that his father called him since the age of nine "cold fish".The early criticism by an authority figure of his timid behavior, mocking his appearance and behavior, determines how he perceives himself.
So, we often saw how the weight of a complex past or unresolved trauma, in turn, is involved in the development of this type of depression characterized by emotional insensitivity.
What is the most appropriate therapeutic strategy in this case?
Our brain is an amazing organ. However, in addition to being wonderful, sophisticated and crucial to ensure our evolutionary success, its complexity is also what characterizes it. That is why it is sometimes so difficult for us to effectively use an organ as complicated to solve precisely these situations as complex as the life itself presents us.
One thing we must first understand is that no matter how much people repeat that the brain is like a computer, there is very little truth in this idea. We are not machines, and this sensational organ is fundamentally emotionally driven. Understanding their processes, understanding how to manage them and putting them on our side is the only way out of our own prison, of depression.
So, something that psychologists recommend in these cases where you feel nothing during a depression is to start your sentences with a "I feel". It is necessary to take an internal journey to remove these encrusted, trapped and infected emotions layer by layer. Therefore, therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy can help us, without excluding other treatments to control and resolve the anxiety disorders that these clinical conditions usually present.
As we start to release our angerour fears and worries, we will be on the road to recovery.