January 8, 2024

Overcoming Emotional Numbing in PTSD: A Path To Healing.

Explore emotional numbing in PTSD, its impact, and the role of EMDR therapy in breaking the cycle for healing

By Annie Wright|EMDR
Overcoming Emotional Numbing in PTSD: A Path To Healing.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD (CPTSD) are complex conditions that profoundly impact those suffering. 

While many individuals with trauma histories employ various coping mechanisms, one particularly counterproductive strategy is emotional numbing. 

Emotional numbing involves shutting down one’s emotions, often as a response to overwhelming trauma-related feelings. 

Although it may seem like a protective measure, emotional numbing can exacerbate the symptoms of PTSD and CPTSD. 

This essay explores the concept of emotional numbing, its detrimental effects on individuals with PTSD, and how therapy, specifically EMDR, can help break the cycle of emotional numbing and facilitate healing.

Understanding Emotional Numbing.

Emotional numbing is a psychological state in which individuals with PTSD or CPTSD intentionally detach themselves from their emotions and feelings. 

This detachment serves as a coping mechanism, helping them navigate the challenges their trauma poses. 

Several reasons underlie emotional numbing, including:

  • Painful Emotions: Experiencing the emotions and feelings associated with trauma can be excruciatingly painful, leading individuals to avoid them altogether.
  • Depletion Of Energy: Coping with the constant emotional turmoil can be exhausting, leaving individuals feeling drained and unable to invest energy in processing their emotions.
  • Emotional Detachment: For some, detaching emotionally may seem more straightforward, shielding them from the distressing impact of their trauma.

While emotional numbing can offer a temporary respite from negative emotions, it comes at a significant cost, hindering healing.

The Destructive Impact Of Emotional Numbing On PTSD.

Emotional numbing, while initially intended as a protective measure, ultimately exacerbates the symptoms of PTSD.

Humans are inherently emotional creatures, relying on the full spectrum of emotions to fully connect, process, and experience life. 

When individuals shut down emotionally, they inadvertently block negative and positive emotions, including happiness, joy, wonder, curiosity, belonging, acceptance, and love.

For those grappling with PTSD, emotional disconnection from these positive emotions exacerbates their feelings of disconnection from the world and others. 

Emotional numbing can make individuals with PTSD feel misunderstood, isolated, and unworthy. 

The absence of positive emotions complicates the healing process, as these emotions play a crucial role in recovery.

Healing From PTSD: Breaking The Emotional Numbing Cycle.

Recognizing and addressing emotional numbing is vital for individuals seeking to heal from PTSD. 

Trauma-informed counseling is an essential component of the recovery journey.

A trained therapist can work with individuals to unlock their emotional potential and help them reconnect with their suppressed emotions.

Several therapeutic tools and modalities have proven effective in addressing emotional numbing:

  • Neurofeedback Therapy: Neurofeedback therapy helps regulate brain activity, reducing hyperarousal and emotional numbing. It has shown promise in trauma recovery.

It can empower individuals to access their emotions and feelings more freely.

Counseling is pivotal in recovery, as therapists guide individuals toward rediscovering their emotions. 

Rather than struggling to force themselves to feel, individuals undergoing therapy can embark on a journey that empowers them to reclaim their emotional resources.

Emotional numbing is a common yet counterproductive coping mechanism employed by individuals with PTSD and CPTSD. 

While it may temporarily shield them from the pain of their trauma, it ultimately hinders their healing process by disconnecting them from vital positive emotions. 

Therapy, particularly EMDR, plays a pivotal role in this process. 

Trauma-informed counseling empowers individuals to unlock their emotional potential, helping them reconnect with their emotions and feelings. 

If you’re wondering whether you or someone you know needs help to overcome numbing in PTSD, and you connected with any part of this post and are presently searching for a counselor, we would be honored to offer our support to you.

At Evergreen Counseling, we understand the importance of finding a therapist who resonates with you.

We invite you to take the next step toward your well-being by booking a complimentary 20-minute consultation call with us

Explore our website, reach out to us here, or call us at 510-373-2723 to schedule your consultation.


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