CFS and emotional blunting (not able to cry)

Do you experience emotional blunting with me/cfs


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Hi, I have been suffering from me/cfs since 2014. As a lot of you I’ve been trying many different treatments from medications to spiritual and lifestyle change, however nothing seems to work that well. However, for the last month or two I am experiencing some emotional changes. Sometimes I am able to feel the love for the world same as I had before I got ill, despite feeling tired. I also was able to cry on a few occasions, and that is something I wan’t able to do almost never from the moment I got sick. I hope that theese things will lead to something positive.
Anyway, I got curiois is this “emotional blunting” something other people experience with this illness or is it unrelated. Before I got sick I was extremely sensitive, emotional and emphatetic. I enhoyed listening to music and actually cried of joy many times while listening to it. And now I can hardly ever experience that feeling
 

xebex

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yeah id say there was some kind of emotional blunting going on with me but i also get extreme rage too, and i'm pretty prone to laughing hysterically at comedy shows so maybe i'm not the best to answer this, sometimes i feel totally dead inside and others i'm overly emotional, I am certain that our fluctuating abilities to detox (or not) causes these changes. and if the emotional blunting is more constant then its all part of what ever is out of balance, my balance seems to swing a lot, others might be more out of whack to one side.
 

Wolfcub

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From the very first day with this, I felt my emotions had changed. I was visited by a whole package of symptoms that day (which I believed was a viral infection, but which was never found or verified by any testings.)

Among the symptoms was a feeling of suddenly wanting to cry for no apparent reason.

That has happened frequently since. But sometimes I also get a feeling of being cut off from something deep inside me -something I hold dear. That might just be a mind-space which is now harder to reach at times, and may be more connected with mental focus than anything else.

Also, the various anxieties that not always feeling physically well can bring in, don't help.

Also, I feel that when we are overloaded, exhausted, or the body is in a survival mode, emotional connections can feel somewhat shut down; almost as if those emotional states are not 100% essential to the process of staying alive or physically functioning.
 

PatJ

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Here is an article by Cort on HealthRising about some possible reasons for the lack of enjoyment effect in fibromyalgia and ME/CFS.

This post from Hip is very useful for differentiating anhedonia, blunted affect (emotional flatness), and aboulia (lack of motivation). It also includes some potential treatments.

There are several threads on PR about the lack of feeling, emotional response etc, such as Has anyone completely lost their ability to feel, and Complete anhedonia (loss of feelings) as a ME symptom. Anyone else who has it?
 
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Anyway, I got curiois is this “emotional blunting” something other people experience with this illness or is it unrelated. Before I got sick I was extremely sensitive, emotional and emphatetic. I enhoyed listening to music and actually cried of joy many times while listening to it. And now I can hardly ever experience that feeling
Mostly- all my emotional stuff often feels intensified. I cry readily, and more often due to Joy.

I don't cry when the ME is bad- that type of thing causes my sypmtoms to worsen rapidly-I have to squelch it.

Yesterday I watched an old clip of Congressman John Lewis entering the Colbert audience..and getting passed around- this caused a giant emotional upwelling and I burst into tears, it was a beautiful thing to see.

If you have ever asked for help, if you've ever asked for hands to reach down (or up, in this case) and help you- well I have, and that imagery is powerful.

We feel so alone at times, and then a moment like that occurs and is a beautiful thing to see.

****

But also at times there is a blunting. Music was very difficult to enjoy for a long time and especially when I am more run down... - too intense, hard to describe- 1, or 2 songs and then: turn it off. But thats improved here a bit.

****

Sometimes, I just see I have to pull back, as the energy to experience what ever it is- is unavailable.
 

Hip

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Good poll. Interesting to see how many other ME/CFS patients have blunted emotions.

I have blunted emotions, so normal human emotional situations don't stir me much (eg, if I watch a romantic film or melodrama on TV, I don't respond much to the human emotions).

But at the same time, I find I have become very sensitive to social discord, social disharmony, or social stress. Even mildly raised voices, or an annoyed tone of voice, I am very sensitive to, and find it disturbing.

I suspect all of this may come from some hypothalamus dysfunction in ME/CFS, as the hypothalamus plays an important role in emotional processing and in handling stress.
 

lenora

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Since I don't know what "normal" for me is, I have noticed one thing that really bothers me. That is, no matter how sad I feel, or how much I miss someone, I simply can't cry. No matter what, I feel the sadness but tears have been missing from my life for probably 35 or so years. I don't know if it's a case of what happens when people are emotionally overloaded, would have been natural for me anyway, or just what.

Anyone else with trouble for years, but can't make tears? (Which, by the way, are good for us!) The old "Stiff Upper Lip"....it's not that you're stronger than the next person, it's just that you can't show emotion. On the other hand, I'm quick to smile, seldom show that I'm having a bad day and, even if I am, Rod's the only person I would trust with that knowledge. What's normal, anyway? Yours, Lenora.
 

HABS93

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Good poll. Interesting to see how many other ME/CFS patients have blunted emotions.

I have blunted emotions, so normal human emotional situations don't stir me much (eg, if I watch a romantic film or melodrama on TV, I don't respond much to the human emotions).

But at the same time, I find I have become very sensitive to social discord, social disharmony, or social stress. Even mildly raised voices, or an annoyed tone of voice, I am very sensitive to, and find it disturbing.

I suspect all of this may come from some hypothalamus dysfunction in ME/CFS, as the hypothalamus plays an important role in emotional processing and in handling stress.
How am I suppose to have a relationship if I can't do anything. Being in your 20s with cfs is a curse.....there's a beautiful girl that keeps asking me to hangout but I don't have the energy ....I miss that connection
 

Pyrrhus

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I have read that there is a difference between "emotional apathy" and "emotional blunting".

These authors explain the difference by saying that "emotional apathy" is where you lack the emotions you would normally have, and "emotional blunting" is when you feel emotions but can't express them to others.

Wikipedia said:
Reduced affect display, sometimes referred to as emotional blunting, is a condition of reduced emotional reactivity in an individual. It manifests as a failure to express feelings (affect display) either verbally or nonverbally, especially when talking about issues that would normally be expected to engage the emotions.
[...]
Reduced affect should be distinguished from apathy and anhedonia, which explicitly refer to a lack of emotion, whereas reduced affect is a lack of emotional expression (affect display) regardless of whether emotion (underlying affect) is actually reduced or not.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reduced_affect_display
 

Hip

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I have read that there is a difference between "emotional apathy" and "emotional blunting".
That's an interesting distinction.

Looking at that Wikipedia definition of blunted affect, though, it indicates that blunted affect is a reduced outward display of emotions (in situations that normal people would express an emotion), regardless of whether you inner feelings of emotion are actually reduced or not.

So emotional apathy would be a specific type of blunted affect.

In the medical sense, I would bet that blunted affect is nearly always due to an underlying lack of inner feelings, which in turn lead to the absence of display of those feelings. Except in cultures where emotional display is repressed by the norms of society (but that would not be a medical condition).

I am not sure on how correct that Wikipedia article is regarding the statement that anhedonia refers to a lack of emotion, as anhedonia is a lack or reduce ability to feel pleasure and reward, which are not emotions.
 

Pyrrhus

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Looking at that Wikipedia definition of blunted affect, though, it indicates that blunted affect is a reduced outward display of emotions (in situations that normal people would express an emotion), regardless of whether you inner feelings of emotion are actually reduced or not.

So emotional apathy would be a specific type of blunted affect.
Excellent point.

In the medical sense, I would bet that blunted affect is nearly always due to an underlying lack of inner feelings, which in turn lead to the absence of display of those feelings.
One would certainly think so, in most cases at least.

Of course, these are psychiatrists who have defined these terms, so who knows what they were thinking...
 

Jyoti

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I find that the effort required to manage my life, small though it is (my life, that is), uses up the energy I need to feel more deeply. I can and do that, but not as I used to, and when I do feel a great deal, it usually leaves me drained.

My sense--for myself--is that in the hierarchy of energetic expenditures there is at the bottom/base survival (which in this scenario includes the stuff I need to accomplish in order for my life to be as functional as is possible) and it is only when that is secured AND there is a surfeit of energy :xeyes: remaining that my emotional life gets real. I know how I feel all the time--I am sad or angry or happy or grateful or frustrated or hopeful or even joyful but it is a knowing more than a full-self experiencing.

Which is why I cry so much less than I once did. I just don't have the energy to really feel that sadness all the way through much of the time.
 

Sledgehammer

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My emotions have almost dried up. I'm with the 54.5% of the poll at the time of typing this.
Don't get me wrong, I'd rush to someone in need but wouldn't be able to show any emotion regarding their problems. Before the illness I cared about pretty much everything.

One thing that does stir that little bit left in me and make me shed a tear is how people mistreat animals.
Music also used to do the same. Not any more. I listen and enjoy the sound. The words from say a love song, although I understand them, mean little if nothing.

What the hell have I become I often ask myself :(
 

Jyoti

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I'm sure you are still 'in there' @Sledgehammer. Maybe just in hibernation? Waiting for the ice to melt?

I don't listen to music nearly as much as I did, and I know others here have the problem of it being 'too much.' For many it is sensory overload, which is so hard to bear, when something you formerly loved now literally hurts. For me I think it is more the emotion it still evokes. I don't get done in by the sound too often, but more by how much it makes me feel, and then that in turn leaves me shaken and crashed.

What an odd illness.
 
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livinglighter

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Something for me is definitely going on as I don’t get as emotional as much as I used to towards people’s ‘simple’ plights. Ones that I perceive they can act on.
I was in tears when I heard my very close relative had cancer, but I can be very matter of fact with a lot of other concerns. It’s a bit terrible, but I think I weigh it against the gravity of what I’m going through, so a lot of things no longer register as terrible, if you get what I mean. I’m always sympathetic towards people, but I go into problem solving mode with them perhaps too quickly.
 

Oliver3

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yeah id say there was some kind of emotional blunting going on with me but i also get extreme rage too, and i'm pretty prone to laughing hysterically at comedy shows so maybe i'm not the best to answer this, sometimes i feel totally dead inside and others i'm overly emotional, I am certain that our fluctuating abilities to detox (or not) causes these changes. and if the emotional blunting is more constant then its all part of what ever is out of balance, my balance seems to swing a lot, others might be more out of whack to one side.
Exactly the same here. And I wasn't always like this. So it's somehow someway being acquired through this illness
 

Oliver3

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Something for me is definitely going on as I don’t get as emotional as much as I used to towards people’s ‘simple’ plights. Ones that I perceive they can act on.
I was in tears when I heard my very close relative had cancer, but I can be very matter of fact with a lot of other concerns. It’s a bit terrible, but I think I weigh it against the gravity of what I’m going through, so a lot of things no longer register as terrible, if you get what I mean. I’m always sympathetic towards people, but I go into problem solving mode with them perhaps too quickly.
Sounds familiar too...maybe we just are burnout from a weak sense of self which has meant we've been rescuers.
I wonder what the figures are for parental abdandonment in CFS..I'm not making this a mental thing but maybe in our phenotype, it starts a cascade of stress that eventually springs the trap