Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD (CPTSD) complicate the personal lives of those who experience it.

Some battle constant anxiety and fear. Others struggle with avoidance. They work very hard to ensure that they do not encounter any reminders in the everyday lives of their trauma.

However, one issue that does affect suffers of PTSD is emotional numbing. It’s another way that people with trauma have found to cope on a day-to-day basis.

Yet, emotional numbing has the opposite effect and can make both PTSD and CPTSD worse.

If you have been through trauma and are struggling with PTSD, here’s how emotional numbing can impact you, and what to do about it.

What is Emotional Numbing?

Emotional numbing is a term used to describe a state of mind in which people with PTSD try to cope. Specifically, they emotionally shut down. They don’t allow themselves to feel their emotions or feelings. These can be in regards to their PTSD specifically, but also in their everyday lives as well. There are several reasons for this. For example:

  • Experiencing those feelings or emotions is too painful.
  • They no longer have any energy to devote to those feelings.
  • It’s easier to be emotionally detached.

In a way, emotional numbing does make sense. Trauma leaves a powerful imprint on anybody. It feels overwhelming. Almost anyone can relate to feeling so flooded with emotions or feelings that they are quickly overwhelmed. The same is true with those with PTSD. Their solution though is to detach themselves from those emotions. The result is emotional numbing.

Why Emotional Numbing Makes PTSD Worse

Although emotional numbing results from a need to survive and protect oneself emotionally, it does make PTSD worse. It’s simple really. We, as human beings, are emotional creatures. People need to connect, process, and feel emotions. When you shut down emotionally, you may be detaching yourself from negative feelings. However, you are also blocking off positive and affirming feelings as well. For instance:

  • Happiness
  • Joy
  • Wonder
  • Curiosity
  • Belonging
  • Acceptance
  • Love

These emotions are very important for those struggling with PTSD and lost to the detachment process as well. That’s because when you have PTSD, you often feel disconnected from those around you. You feel misunderstood. Or, worse, that somehow you are unworthy. Having experiences that affirm those positive emotions helps tremendously with healing from PTSD. If you emotionally numb yourself, then you can’t access those emotions too. Over the long term, this makes it more difficult to resolve your PTSD symptoms.

How to Heal From PTSD

PTSD affects many aspects of your life, including your emotional health. You may not even realize that you are emotionally numbing. Just that you feel exhausted, spent, and have nothing left to give. Yet, you do remember what it was like to feel joy and happiness? Why shut out those feelings too?

If you are numbing your emotions because of PTSD, then trauma informed counseling will be of the utmost importance in your recovery journey. A therapist will work with you to unlock your propensity for emotional numbing so that you, once again, can access those emotions.

Some specific tools that will be useful for this process include neurofeedback therapy and eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR). Both have the power to unlock the parts of your brain that have shut down due to emotional numbing. Thus, you won’t have to sit awkwardly in a therapy session, trying to force yourself to feel. Rather, you will undergo a process that empowers you to find those resources within yourself.

Counseling is an immense support to recovery because your therapist will work with you so that you once again will feel those emotions. To find out how to reach out today to learn more about therapy for PTSD and trauma.