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Feeling Empty: The Dangers of Prolonged Emptiness Inside

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Do you struggle to connect emotionally with yourself or others? Do you feel like you’re moving through life on autopilot? Feeling empty can come from a variety of causes, and result in significant effects to both physical and mental health.

If you are dealing with a feeling of emptiness, it can be difficult to remember just how long you’ve felt that way. When we’re stripped of the richness and excitement of life, it’s as if the edges of everything become blurred and the details indistinct. We lose our bearings along with our desire to keep going, simply existing in the world instead of thriving. 

While feeling empty at times is a relatively common occurrence for those who have experienced a loss or trauma, who are managing a mental health disorder, or who are experiencing physical changes like hormone shifts, extended periods of emptiness can wear on you both physically and mentally. Understanding why a feeling of emptiness occurs and how to stop feeling empty are important first steps in avoiding any negative impacts from this complex condition.

Unpacking the Feeling of Emptiness

Most of us have at least temporarily experienced the hollowness and discomfort of feeling empty, but may struggle to define exactly what it is. You might notice that you are no longer excited about things, or you are unable to feel powerful emotions. You also may find yourself feeling disconnected from other people, or believing that your life has no meaning. People describe the feeling of emptiness in a variety of different ways, including:

  • Emotional numbness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Despair
  • Frustration
  • Hollowness
  • Feeling flat, or unable to feel joy or excitement

Feeling empty is generally a result of unresolved mental or physical problems, and is not considered a healthy mental state. If you are struggling with a feeling of emptiness, it is important to identify what is causing it in order to best treat this condition. 

Why Do I Feel Empty?

While there may be traumatic events or losses that clearly precede a feeling of emptiness, sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint a specific cause. There are a range of occurrences and conditions that can cause a feeling of emptiness, and identifying what may be behind it is essential to begin revitalising yourself.

Situational causes of emptiness

  • Loss – losing a loved one, experiencing a miscarriage, getting fired from a job, or even moving to a new place can trigger feelings of grief that can include an empty feeling
  • Trauma – events that can cause trauma range widely, from abuse and assault, to bullying or emotional neglect. Though these events may have happened long ago, they still have the potential to trigger an emotional response that may include a feeling of emptiness 
  • Deep dissatisfaction – are you stuck in a job you hate? Do you feel trapped in your relationship? Are you struggling to connect with your old friend group? Outgrowing old  roles can sometimes be indicated by an empty feeling 

Physical causes of emptiness

  • Sleep disturbances – a poor night of sleep can greatly impact the way you perceive the following day. If you are struggling with ongoing insomnia or interrupted sleep, this condition can feed into an overall feeling of hollowness
  • Exhaustion – new parents, caretakers of chronically ill or elderly people, and people working multiple jobs to make ends meet may experience extreme levels of physical exhaustion that can also leave them mentally drained and feeling empty
  • Hormonal changes – fluctuations in hormone levels caused by reproductive changes or the thyroid can result in a feeling of emptiness for some people

Mental health causes of emptiness

There are a variety of mental health disorders that are associated with an empty feeling. This potential cause underscores the importance of talking to a health professional if you are struggling with a prolonged feeling of emptiness. Mental health conditions that include emptiness as a symptom include:

  • Complex trauma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Persistent complex bereavement disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Schizotypal personality disorder

Recognising the Dangers of Prolonged Emptiness

While feeling empty is not an uncommon experience, it is one that needs to be carefully monitored. Long-term feelings of emptiness can lower one’s quality of life, leading to higher levels of stress and potential relationship dysfunction. People who feel empty tend not to eat or sleep well, leading to an ongoing deficit in the body’s most basic needs. These factors not only diminish an individual’s happiness and wellbeing, but can also impact physical health, possibly resulting in chronic health issues. 

A feeling of emptiness can both be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition, or a precursor for developing one. People who feel empty are more likely to develop an anxiety or depressive disorder, which can cause further mental and physical problems that may prolong a return to good health. Additionally, those struggling with a feeling of emptiness may attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, which poses a range of risks including addiction. These potential health threats highlight the need to seek help for a pervasive empty feeling.

How to Stop Feeling Empty: Strategies to Combat Emptiness

Being aware of a feeling of emptiness is an important first step in regaining a zest for life. This provides the basis for further exploration and action to deal with the root causes of your emptiness and cultivate curiosity and joy. There are a few different strategies to consider when dealing with emptiness, and you may find that a combination of several is most helpful in addressing your needs.


Emptiness often leaves us feeling detached and cut off from our emotions and experiences. Mindfully engaging with even small daily tasks – brewing a cup of tea, walking to the market, showering in the morning – can help reacquaint ourselves with our senses and the world around us. 

Journaling or meditating tend to be useful tools when exploring what is underlying your current mental and emotional state. Asking yourself questions like, “What am I missing?” can also help to focus the mind on what is needed to bring yourself back into balance. 


If you have been feeling empty, it’s likely you have been neglecting your basic needs. Practising good sleep hygiene, eating nutritious food, and taking time each day to do things that renew and refresh you are good places to start slowly building a foundation of better health. Engaging with the tangible world around you is important, so consider shutting down your screens and really focusing on what you can physically connect with.  

Building healthy relationships

Emptiness frequently includes a sense that there is a lack of meaningful interpersonal connections, leaving people tremendously isolated in their pain. Reaching out to loved ones who care for you is essential in breaking isolation and forging healing bonds. Additionally, talking to others about how you’re feeling may help you better understand your empty feeling and where it comes from. 


Professional mental health support can be life-changing for those experiencing a feeling of emptiness. Therapeutic methods like cognitive behavioural therapy can help you identify the causes of your emptiness, uncover problematic patterns of thought or behaviour that arise as a result, and practise new, healthy patterns in order to shift your outlook and heal. 

There are many different types of therapy available, including:

  • Individual therapy – in individual therapy, a therapist meets with a person in a one-on-one setting to concentrate fully on the specific needs of that person, set personalised goals, process the person’s unique history, and create healthy ways to manage and cope with stress in a safe, supportive environment
  • Group or interpersonal therapy – interpersonal therapy, also known as a process group, is where people can come together to begin to understand their interactions with others, and practise new ways to interact in order to more fully connect with other people and to feel better about themselves
  • Holistic therapy – generally offered during residential or inpatient treatment, holistic therapy involves a range of therapies, which can include individual therapy, group therapy and the use of wellness practices in order to promote healing of the mind and body 

Therapy can have a profound effect on your overall quality of life, and directly addresses the risks posed by a prolonged feeling of emptiness.

Finding Help and Support at The Dawn

Finding Help and Support at The Dawn

The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is a unique residential treatment centre created to foster an environment of personal growth and healing for people who want to change their lives and address significant emotional challenges like a feeling of emptiness. Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI) and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), and nationally licensed by the Thai Ministry of Health, The Dawn offers customised programmes that cater to each individual’s needs by using a comprehensive, holistic treatment method and modern techniques with proven results.

Embarking on a mental health retreat in Thailand

At The Dawn, you’ll benefit from a compassionate, accessible, and highly-trained professional team with years of experience working with an international clientele on a range of mental health and addiction-related issues. Located in beautiful northern Thailand, our resort-like facilities are well-appointed with private rooms, lush gardens, and amenities like a swimming pool, fitness centre, yoga and meditation studio, and games room. Here, far from the stressors of home, you’ll be able to focus completely on your needs and heal old wounds. 

Call us today to learn more about how we can support your journey back to health.


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