Depression Symptoms 'I Feel Empty:' What Does It Mean If You Feel This Way? By Barbara Field Barbara Field Barbara is writer and speak who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 26, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Karen Cilli Fact checked by Karen Cilli Karen Cilli is a fact-checker for Verywell Mind. She has an extensive background in research, with 33 years of experience as a reference librarian and educator. Learn about our editorial process Print Levani Kalmaxelidze / EyeEm / Gety Images Why You Might Feel Empty Sometimes a feeling of emptiness is fleeting and lasts only a few days or weeks. Often it resolves by itself and you feel as good as new. But sometimes this gnawing feeling persists. A host of reasons might lead to a feeling of emptiness. These reasons could be physical, mental, or emotional. Here are ways to cope with feelings of emptiness and return to feeling better about life. What It Means to Feel "Dead Inside" Physical Factors While there may be many physical issues or ailments that could lead to a feeling of emptiness, exhaustion could be a major culprit as sleep deprivation has many negative side effects. Lack of Sleep The importance of getting good, restful sleep has a definite effect on your health. You might feel empty because you’re really tired. A Harvard University health source says “neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies suggest that a good night's sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation sets the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.” Exhaustion Feeling like there’s no fuel in the tank could derive from exhaustion. Perhaps you’ve been through so much, your energy levels are depleted. Maybe you’ve been caregiving for children or elderly parents. Research confirms that even informal caregiving causes stress and burnout. Another cause of your exhaustion and feeling empty might be attributable to the long hours you might be spending on work projects. Press Play for Advice On Dealing With Caregiver Stress Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring actor Nathan Kress, shares how to handle the stress that can arise after you've taken on a caregiver role. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Ways to Cope With Exhaustion If you're feeling exhausted and feel a general sense of emptiness, some of following tips might alleviate your symptoms: Seek out assistance from a spouse, neighbor, cleaning service, or friend. Incorporate rest into your day by scheduling calendar time for regular naps. Try breathing exercises. Begin a meditation practice. See if any of these remedies offset that feeling of blah-ness or nothingness. If these solutions don’t work, you might need to delve deeper into your psyche. Take time to assess the situation by sitting down with a pad of paper and pen and ask yourself about the deep cause or causes of your exhaustion: Do you need to seek help from a partner, neighbor, or friend?Have your goals involving work, family, and life now changed?Are your children’s activities requiring too much driving on your part?Are health concerns demanding more of your attention?Is a volunteer responsibility overtaking too much of your time?Do you need to step away completely from a demanding job?Do you need to get a new job, change careers or work part-time? By assessing your responsibilities and your current situation, you may find certain obligations no longer fit into your life plan in the same way that they did before. Remember that quitting something isn’t a sign of weakness or lack of commitment. In fact, quitting can be a sign of strength. 5 Times When Quitting Is Actually a Sign of Mental Strength Mental and Emotional Health Factors Various life events or circumstances might lead to this feeling of emptiness or sadness. Everyone is different. The same situation, let’s say of dealing with a belligerent boss, might affect one person profoundly and the person next door in a much less impactful way. Differing perceptions influence our mental and emotional health. Some possible causes of that empty feeling are listed below. Boredom Are you bored and unsatisfied with your daily life, so you feel a void? Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW and author of four books, says you may feel empty because you’re “feeling purposeless, [and] you are going through the motions and not truly knowing what would give you meaning.” Make a list of activities you could do to increase your sense of joy, fun, and meaningfulness. Another option is to journal things you’re grateful for by just looking around you. Scientists have proven that gratitude can increase your happiness. Loneliness After a Romantic Breakup After a relationship or marriage ends, you might feel a void. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest studies about adult life that is still going strong after 75 years, has found that maintaining loving relationships with spouses, family, and friends is one of the most crucial factors in our happiness. It’s no wonder that you’d feel down and lonely if you’re no longer part of a romantic relationship. As loneliness is associated with a host of maladaptive conditions like depression, it's important that look into myriad ways to cope. You might join a class, set up a regular time to talk with your best friend or seek out online support. Grief After the death of someone close to you, it’s common for loved ones to remark to others that they feel a sense of utter numbness or emptiness. This emptiness in your home or heart should abate. There isn’t necessarily closure to the loss of someone special to you, but there is often a way to get through and live with the loss. As part of the grieving process, you will come to terms in various ways with the loss of your relative or friend. Verywell Mind has put together a list of grief and bereavement support tips to help you through the bereavement experience. Depression and Other Mental Health Issues The tricky thing about depression is that it can include a spectrum of symptoms. For example, it might show up as temporary sadness and feeling low. Or you might feel a decreased interest in activities that you usually enjoy. These factors might create a blah, empty, tired feeling. Amatenstein cautions that a strong and persistent feeling of lack or sense of nothingness might indicate more serious issues. She says, “This feeling can be associated with a chronic mental health condition such as depression or PTSD (post-traumatic-stress disorder).” With depression, look for a range of symptoms that include a loss of appetite, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, problems with decision-making, and suicidal ideation. Amatenstein adds that feeling empty could “also be a defense mechanism because after a triggering traumatic event that is so upsetting it’s easier to shut down and feel nothing than deal with severe emotions.” If your feeling of emptiness reflects what is called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, PTSD, or seems to be traumatic, it's recommended that you seek help from a licensed mental health practitioner. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. How to Deal With Feeling Empty With mild feelings of emptiness or temporary feelings of lack, you can motivate yourself to get out and feel better in various ways. Focus on self-care, do activities that improve your sense of well-being, make meaningful changes, and communicate these feelings with people you are close to and of course, your therapist. If these feelings have lingered and you feel they are beyond simple remedies, professional help is advised. A Word From Verywell Acknowledging your feelings of emptiness is the first step, so congratulations if you’ve taken that step. Determining the possible cause is the next step. If you are in distress or this feeling is persistent, reoccurring, and complex, therapists are available online and in person to assist you. Finally, remind yourself that you are respecting your feelings and taking positive actions. 2 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Harvard Health Publishing. Sleep deprivation can affect your mental health. Gérain P, Zech E. Informal caregiver burnout? Development of a theoretical framework to understand the impact of caregiving. Front Psychol. 2019;10:1748. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01748 By Barbara Field Barbara is writer and speak who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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