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Overcoming Emotional Detachment

Overcoming Emotional Detachment

What is Emotional Detachment?

Emotional Detachment is an inability or unwillingness to connect to others emotionally. This mental health condition is characterized by a flat or dull mood, a lack of empathy and compassion towards others, irritability and avoidance of relationships and social situations among others. Someone who is emotionally detached may exhibit only some of these symptoms or may display others, as everyone experiences this condition a bit differently.

Where Does Emotional Detachment Come From?

For some, emotional detachment is a coping mechanism. They detach to protect themselves from powerful emotions or having their feelings hurt. It is also often a reaction to traumatic experiences like abuse. Finally, some people become emotionally detached as a result of emotions they are having trouble processing. For example, the loss of a loved one or romantic rejection. Emotional detachment is a way of protecting oneself from their feelings about themselves, past trauma or another person.

Some Causes of Emotional Detachment May Include:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Abuse
  • Other Trauma
  • Medication
  • Managing Emotions vs. Detachment

We all need to manage our emotions to some degree. In fact, a bit of controlled emotional detachment isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If someone who is being teased or bullied can employ a bit of detachment to the degree that it truly doesn’t affect them emotionally, that would be a positive example. Becoming detached from your emotions can become a problem when it is a continuous state of being for months or years at a time. What may have been originally used as a coping or defense mechanism may stubbornly take root. Someone may hold onto emotional detachment for the sense of security it gives them, even though they may be aware it is damaging their relationships with others.

When Someone You Care About is Emotionally Detached

One important thing to understand about emotional detachment is that it often isn’t voluntary and blame or fault should not enter the equation. In other words, if a person you are close to becomes emotionally detached, you should understand that:

  • They are not trying to punish you.
  • It is likely that it has nothing to do with you.
  • It is not the person’s fault that they have become emotionally detached
  • Overcoming emotional detachment takes time.

A person who is emotionally detached will take a great deal of patience and understanding. That can be especially challenging when that person doesn’t seem to reciprocate. It’s important to try not to take someone else’s emotional detachment personally. It often isn’t about you, even if the person is very close to you, it is just as likely that their detachment is related to past trauma or current loss or feelings they are struggling to process.

Awareness and Our Emotions

Often when a person is experiencing emotional detachment, they may not be fully aware of it. They may recognize that they are distant or don’t feel like “themselves”, but it isn’t unusual for them to be unaware of the degree of their detachment or how it is impacting them and others around them. It may help to gently make someone aware of these things. But it’s important in the process that you do not bring blame into the discussion. It should be more along the lines of “I’ve noticed for some time that you seem more distant. Can I help? Do you want to talk about it? I can just listen, if you like.” Make them feel safe to open up and try to forgive them if they don’t seem to be on the same emotional wavelength as you. There isn’t always a simple answer to emotional attachment and emerging from it can take some time. You may need to summon enough patience and compassion for both of you for a while. That can be a tall order. Make sure you don’t lose sight of your own needs in the process. Find support for yourself, consider professional help.

What Can I Do About My Emotional Detachment?

If you believe that you are emotionally detached, there are things you can do about it. It does not matter whether or not it is a recent phenomenon or you have felt this way since childhood. You don’t have to remain so detached from your feelings, if you don’t want to. The truth is that overcoming emotional detachment is hard work. But, there are things you can do to change which are proven effective. Changing the way you think and behave is challenging, but professional mental health treatment makes it much easier than it would be otherwise.

Emotional Detachment May Be Overcome By:

  • Removing barriers to human connection.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Developing a support system (friends, family)
  • Reducing sources of stress
  • Processing trauma with professional help
  • Mental Health Treatment for Emotional Detachment

If you or someone you love is living with emotional detachment or another mental health condition, Harmony Health Group wants to help. Our network of mental health treatment centers offer treatment for a wide range of mental health disorders and substance use disorders. The first step in healing is communication. A conversation with our admissions specialists will serve to both answer your questions and broaden your understanding of the treatment options we have available for you or your loved one. Make the call today at (866) 461-4474 or contact us through our online form and the future will begin to look just a bit brighter.

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