Feeling Empty? Here's What It Could Mean and How To Stop It (2023)

That feeling of emptiness. It’s right there in your chest, yet you’re unsure how it came about. Is it sadness? Melancholy? Boredom? It may be a little of everything.

Feeling this way is not uncommon. You might call it “feeling empty,” while someone else might call it something different.

What matters the most is that it’s real, valid. Although overwhelming, it can be managed.

Uncovering what’s lying underneath this emptiness feeling might not be a straightforward process, but it’s possible and a recommended first step toward resolution.

The feeling of emptiness might last a few days and then resolve on its own.

Other times, it might linger for two weeks or longer. When this is the case, learning to recognize cognitive distortions and seeking the support of a mental health professional can help.

Feeling empty can sometimes manifest as a sense of loneliness, confusion about your life and goals, or lack of motivation to pursue anything in life.

Everyone might feel this void in their heart from time to time.

The experience could have many causes, including shifting hormonal levels, losing a job, or the required physical distancing that comes with a pandemic.

Any life stage or situation that may require you to reflect on yourself and your life might also lead to a temporary feeling of emptiness.

Although not in every case, feeling empty could also signify some mental health conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Only a mental health professional can diagnose your condition accurately.

Losing touch with yourself

It’s not unusual for someone to lose touch with themselves once in a while. A lack of insight into yourself may lead to that lingering emptiness feeling.

Some people call this “living without a purpose.” It means that you might not have clarity on the type of person you are or the one you want to become.

Not having specific goals or dreams to achieve can also lead you to feel empty.

(Video) 4 Reason Why You Feel Empty

Losing touch with yourself can come from many circumstances. For example, a consuming relationship or a demanding job.

Unresolved past experiences

Sometimes, feeling melancholy might have to do with a long grieving process that you haven’t explored yet.

For example, an unresolved painful experience in your childhood or a sense of abandonment from a family member.

When we don’t openly talk or explore emotions that have been with us for a long time, they might manifest in other ways.

Even if it feels overwhelming and painful, thinking and talking about significant past events that caused you grief may help you process them. Depending on how strong you feel about these events, going through the process with a mental health professional is highly advisable.

Not taking care of yourself

For some people, taking care of others might come first. This could lead them to put their own needs aside for a long time. This, in turn, may lead to feeling empty.

You might feel that making others happy makes you happy, too. Even if this is the case, it’s important to consider that supporting others is not exclusive of supporting yourself.

Everyone needs support and care, including you. Often, when your needs are fulfilled, you become better equipped to help and support others, too.

Abandoning yourself, not listening to your own hopes and desires, could make you feel empty, explained Kaitlyn Slight, a marriage and family therapist in Durham, North Carolina.

Not taking care of your needs can lead to anxiety, guilt, and shame, Slight said. These symptoms might be what you call “feeling empty.”

How much time you spend on social media might also affect how you feel and could fuel the feelings of emptiness.

In many instances, accounts you follow on social media might portray a lifestyle that’s not realistic or a perfect life or appearance. This could lead you to compare yourself and inevitably underscore your life.

Not having significant relationships

The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest studies about adult life, has found that maintaining close and good relationships is the most important aspect of the human experience.

This means that it’s not about how many relationships you have but rather the quality of these relationships.

Emotional intimacy, support, active listening, and company are all important. When these are missing in your life, it could lead to feelings of emptiness and loneliness.

Depression is a mental health condition that involves many symptoms including:

  • lacking energy and motivation
  • persistently feeling sad
  • feeling hopeless
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • not being able to focus
  • not being able to enjoy activities or people
  • feeling guilty or worthless

A feeling of emptiness or numbness could be another sign of depression, according to Ashley Eder, LPC, a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado.

(Video) Feeling Emotionally Numb or Empty? Here are some tips

In fact, some of Eder’s clients who live with depression report feeling empty instead of sad, she said.

“This kind of empty feeling comes with not caring about much, not being interested in things, not feeling fueled by anything in particular,” Eder explained.

Feeling empty is not always a sign of depression, though. The only person who can diagnose your condition accurately is a mental health professional.

It’s natural to feel concerned if you’ve noticed a change in yourself. Recognizing this feeling and addressing it is the first step toward feeling better.

If you’re feeling empty, seeing a mental health professional can help.

A therapist could help you work through your feelings, uncover the cause of the numbness, and address it in a way that works best for you.

Finding ways to stop feeling empty may depend on what’s causing it.

For example, if you feel numb after trauma, you might need to process this particular event. If you’ve felt empty for a long time, psychotherapy can help you unveil some of the reasons that led you here.

You can read about the different types of hopelessness here

Gently acknowledge the emptiness

If you’re experiencing emptiness that’s more like a gaping hole, acknowledge it, and be gentle with yourself, said Eder.

Remember that you’re doing the best you can at any given moment. Feeling guilty is not uncommon, but it might stop you from seeking help.

Begin by recognizing your own feelings and needs. Even if challenging, try to avoid dismissing yourself and what you feel.

If you acknowledge that your feelings are linked to a loss you experienced, consider allowing yourself time and space to grieve openly. Grief looks and feels different to everyone, and there are no right or wrong ways to do it.

Once you’ve acknowledged your losses, you might go through five stages of grief.

Maybe the loss involves someone leaving your life physically or emotionally.

Eder suggested speaking to yourself with compassion when exploring these feelings and past experiences. For instance, you might say: “It’s been hard to feel so lonely,” or “You’re right; you did need more love.”

Save time for yourself every day

It’s natural to sometimes turn to certain events or activities to not think about how you feel. For example, you might feel inclined to go out with friends or spend the night playing video games.

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Slight suggests you fight the urge and instead save time to be with yourself and look within. This may include exploring your own desires, fears, hopes, and dreams, she said.

Because different activities work for different people, you might find that meditation, writing, or exercise helps you refocus yourself.

“It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you practice devoting time and energy to yourself and caring for yourself, the less present those empty feelings will be,” Slight said.

Explore your current feelings

Eder suggested setting a timer for 5 minutes and noticing what you’re feeling right now.

“It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering,” she explained.

You might want to write “bored” or “distracted” or “curious.” If you’re having a hard time naming your feelings, Google “feelings list,” she suggested.

It also can help to pick one part of your body, such as your hand or head. Eder recommended to then “scan for various categories of sensation like temperature, tension or movement.”

Practicing these exercises every day can help you open yourself to deeper and longer self-explorations.

You can read more about somatic exercises for anxiety here

Explore your feelings of emptiness

Journaling might also help work on your feelings of emptiness, said Slight.

She suggested exploring the following questions as a starting point:

  • Have I been judging myself or comparing myself to others?
  • Do I tell myself positive things? Or do I tend to notice failures or call myself names?
  • Are my feelings being considered in my relationships, or am I minimizing what I am feeling?
  • Am I actively tending to my physical and health needs?
  • Have I turned toward behaviors or addictions to avoid my feelings?
  • Am I focusing solely on the needs of another person or people?
  • What am I trying to prove or win?
  • Am I blaming myself or feeling guilty about things that are out of my control?
  • Am I showing myself compassion like I would with a close friend or family member?
  • Am I asserting myself in my decisions and respecting my personal opinions?

Connect with others

After sitting with your feelings and exploring them, you might find it helpful to connect with others.

Reaching out to friends or family can help you feel better, especially if you’re able to confide in them about your feelings.

One idea is to regularly connect with loved ones through social engagements, hobbies, and mutual interests.

Practice self-care

Depression and grief might sometimes cause you to neglect daily self-care. This is not something to feel ashamed of, but engaging in acts of self-care might help you feel better.

This could include basic things, such as eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, and exercising. Hunger and tiredness can sometimes exacerbate negative feelings.

Consider finding positive outlets for your emotions, like journaling, a new hobby, or creative pursuit.

Mindfulness and yoga are also often recommended for depression and anxiety.

Consider a 10-minute yoga workout on YouTube or a quick meditation exercise using a mindfulness app.

You might also want to limit the time you spend on social media. This could progressively help you feel better.

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If you can’t or don’t, then try reminding yourself that what you see on the screen might not be an attainable goal for anyone. You could see it as watching a science-fiction movie that’s fun to watch but not based on reality.

Commend yourself

You’re doing the best you can with the resources at hand.

Even as children, some people find ways to protect themselves from hurt. One of these ways might be repressing feelings. “In that case, give yourself credit for coming up with a solution that worked when you were small and powerless,” said Eder.

Commend yourself for all the ways you’ve come up with to cope with events in your life.

Now, said Eder, consider allowing those feelings to come out. “You have some catching up to do. And you don’t need to rush to override your old way of survival,” she added.

Sometimes, feeling empty might lead to more distressing thoughts.

If this is your case, Slight said, considering therapy can help. It can help “empower you to make your own decisions about how to implement positive changes.”

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, unable to function in your daily life, or considering hurting yourself or others, a mental health professional can help.

If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, you’re not alone. Help is available right now:

Although it’s natural to feel empty or numb from time to time, these feelings can sometimes linger for two weeks or more.

(Video) I’m feeling lonely #tiktok #goneviral #dance #viraltrend #dancetrend #viral

Acknowledging how you feel and setting a few self-care strategies in place can help. Seeking professional help is also advisable.

“Whether you are experiencing difficult relationships, losses or feeling a lack of purpose or meaning, you are worthy of living a fulfilling and meaningful life,” Slight said.

Here are a few resources to take the first step to feeling better:


How do I stop feeling emptiness? ›

How to stop feeling empty
  1. Gently acknowledge the emptiness. ...
  2. Save time for yourself every day. ...
  3. Explore your current feelings. ...
  4. Explore your feelings of emptiness. ...
  5. Connect with others. ...
  6. Practice self-care. ...
  7. Commend yourself.
Mar 29, 2021

What does it mean when your feeling empty? ›

Feelings of emptiness—a lack of meaning or purpose—are experienced by most people at some point in life. However, chronic feelings of emptiness, feelings of emotional numbness or despair, and similar experiences may be symptomatic of other mental health concerns, such as depression, anhedonia, or schizophrenia.

What causes a feeling of emptiness? ›

Feelings of emptiness can be caused by a wide range of things, from sleep deprivation to experiencing trauma to the first warning signs of depression. It's best to work with a licensed professional for a diagnosis.

What is the real cause of inner emptiness and what to do about it? ›

The Cause Of Inner Emptiness

There is only one cause of inner emptiness: a lack of love. But it is not a lack of someone else's love that causes your emptiness. Inner emptiness is caused by self-abandonment -- by not loving yourself.

Is emptiness a symptom of anxiety? ›

Empty Feeling, feeling like your thoughts and emotions are empty and lifeless, is a common symptom of anxiety disorder, including anxiety and panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

What do I feel when I feel nothing? ›

When you feel nothing, you're not experiencing pain, hurt or sadness and this might even feel like a temporary relief. But, there are a whole range of positives you miss out on too – happiness, excitement, joy and contentment. Feeling a whole range of emotions, in balance, is a natural part of being human.

Why do I want to be alone all of a sudden? ›

Not wanting to be around others can be connected to:

anxiety (other people stress me out so much I have to hide) intimacy issues (I don't want anyone to see the real me) low self-esteem (nobody really likes me anyway) counter-dependency (I don't need anyone I want them to stay away)

What mental illness makes you feel empty? ›

Chronic feelings of emptiness are significant in the lives of people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Feelings of emptiness have been linked to impulsivity, self-harm, suicidal behaviour and impaired psychosocial function.

What is the spiritual meaning of emptiness? ›

emptiness, also called Nothingness, or Void, in mysticism and religion, a state of “pure consciousness” in which the mind has been emptied of all particular objects and images; also, the undifferentiated reality (a world without distinctions and multiplicity) or quality of reality that the emptied mind reflects or ...

Why do I feel like I'm not here mentally? ›

Passing feelings of depersonalization or derealization are common and aren't necessarily a cause for concern. But ongoing or severe feelings of detachment and distortion of your surroundings can be a sign of depersonalization-derealization disorder or another physical or mental health disorder.

What are the two kinds of emptiness? ›

We can speak of two kinds of emptiness: the emptiness of the dharma of teachings and the emptiness of the dharma of mind. The emptiness of the dharma of teachings can be understood through analysis and logic. The emptiness of the dharma of mind, however, can only be realized through actual experience.

What is emptiness of the soul? ›

Emptiness Felt as the Spacious Absence of any Substance

Emptiness is the ultimate truth of the soul not in the sense that a soul does not appear to awareness, but that her mode of existence is beyond our normal concept and feeling of existence.

How do I fill my empty heart? ›

Only by loving, by giving, expressing, and serving others unselfishly, can our own emptiness be filled. As the hymn says, only by loving can the heart live.

How do you identify emptiness? ›

8 Signs That You Feel Emptiness
  1. At times you feel physically empty inside.
  2. You are deeply uncomfortable with feeling, or appearing, needy.
  3. Sometimes you feel numb.
  4. You question the meaning and purpose of your life.
  5. For no obvious reason, you sometimes wonder whether you want to live.
Sep 6, 2020

Is emptiness permanent? ›

The concept of emptiness is closely related to the Buddhist teaching of impermanence (anicca) and non-self (anatta). Just as all phenomena are impermanent and constantly changing, they are empty of any permanent, unchanging self or essence.

Why am I so emotionless and empty? ›

Feeling empty is a complex emotion often caused by physical, psychological, and social factors. These may include the loss of a loved one, a major life change, depression, anxiety, unresolved trauma, and poor relationships. Feeling empty may also be caused by disconnection, loneliness, and boredom.

Is emotionless a symptom of depression? ›

Feeling emotionless can often be a symptom of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic disorder so it's not something to dismiss or downplay. In these cases, seeking the help of a professional is crucial.

Why do I not care anymore? ›

Feeling as if you don't care about anything anymore may be related to anhedonia or apathy. Anhedonia is a mental state in which people have an inability to feel pleasure. It is often a symptom of mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and substance use.

How do I stop emotionally shutting down? ›

Mindfulness of breathing will help you trust your feelings as a source of understanding, rather than fixating on being out of control or irrational. It will allow you to create the space to get out of your head and into your body. It allows you to discharge your stress in healthy ways and look after your well being.

What drugs turn off emotions? ›

Antidepressants that commonly cause emotional blunting include:
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) escitalopram (Lexapro) paroxetine (Paxil) fluoxetine (Prozac) sertraline (Zoloft)
  • serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) duloxetine (Cymbalta) venlafaxine (Effexor XR) desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
Apr 22, 2022

How can I be happy? ›

How to be happier
  1. Manage your stress levels. If you have a lot of stress in your life, find ways to reduce it, such as learning a few time-management techniques. ...
  2. Enjoy yourself. ...
  3. Boost your self-esteem. ...
  4. Have a healthy lifestyle. ...
  5. Talk and share. ...
  6. Build your resilience.

What happens when you don't feel anything anymore? ›

When you lose the ability to feel or express any emotions, this is called flat affect. If you feel numb only to positive emotions but are still able to feel negative emotions, this is called anhedonia. Anhedonia is a common symptom of depression and shows up in a lot of mental health conditions.

What are signs of being alone? ›

What are the main signs and symptoms of chronic loneliness?
  • Inability to connect with others on a deeper, more intimate level. ...
  • No close or "best" friends. ...
  • Overwhelming feeling of isolation regardless of where you are and who's around. ...
  • Negative feelings of self-doubt and self-worth.

What power does being alone have? ›

Being alone can help you build mental strength.

But, solitude may be just as important. Studies show the ability to tolerate alone time has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management. People who enjoy alone time experience less depression.

Why do I not want to talk to anyone all of a sudden? ›

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder where a person is unable to speak in certain social situations, such as with classmates at school or to relatives they do not see very often. It usually starts during childhood and, if left untreated, can persist into adulthood.

How can emptiness be so heavy meaning? ›

Our inability to find few if anyone to truly share them with makes us lonely and anxious. What is the weight of an idea, a hope, or a fear left unshared? They have no mass yet they weighs so heavily on our spirit. This is why loneliness feels so heavy.

What does God say about emptiness? ›

Emptiness is a wake-up call to go to God, who is the only One who can turn emptiness into fullness, and fill us with His fullness and blessing, even if everything around us remains in emptiness.

What does the Bible say about being empty? ›

Emptiness: Understanding the Cause

Many years ago the Lord asked His people, “What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity [emptiness], and are become vain [empty]? (Jer. 2:5).

What is emptiness according to the Bible? ›

We often use the word to express the lack of spiritual hope and joy; a feeling of nothingness/no feeling/despair. It is also the way we express the feeling that appears when we are spent, when we have nothing more to give, no empathy or compassion, nor are we feeling able to receive from others such expressions.

How do I know if I'm becoming mentally unstable? ›

Signs & Symptoms

Sleep or appetite changes — Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or decline in personal care. Mood changes — Rapid or dramatic shifts in emotions or depressed feelings, greater irritability. Withdrawal — Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.

How do you know when you're mentally unstable? ›

Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate. Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt. Extreme mood changes of highs and lows. Withdrawal from friends and activities.

How do I know if I'm struggling mentally? ›

Some common signs that you may be struggling with your mental health include: poor quality sleep and/or sleeping too little or too much, a decrease in motivation, isolating yourself from your friends and family, inability to concentrate, or generally just not feeling good within yourself.

What did Buddha say about emptiness? ›

“Emptiness in Buddhist terms doesn't mean nothingness. It means that every single thing we encounter — including ourselves — goes beyond our ability to conceive of it. We call it emptiness because nothing can ever explain it. Reality itself is emptiness because we can't possibly fit it into our minds.”

What does emptiness mean in love? ›

“Emptiness” is often a symptom of unresolved pain. For example, somewhere in your past relationships, an emotional wound was left unhealed. Such wounds are most often caused by someone intimately close, such as a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a lover.

What is a void of emptiness? ›

A void, a gap that needs to be filled even when you have achieved whatever you wanted but still it feels like a black hole as massive as a cliff. It feels like a desolate place within. In simple words, you feel hollow.


(PsychTalk with Dr. Wendla)
2. Emptiness (How to Stop Feeling Empty) - Teal Swan-
(Teal Swan)
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4. CPTSD and FEELING EMPTY: The Most Important Reason You Should Heal (Resilience Series #7)
(Crappy Childhood Fairy)
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(Elicia Goguen)


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