Blunted Affect

A woman in a blue shirt stares at the camera without any facial expression.Affect is the outward display of one’s emotional state. One can express feelings verbally, by talking about events with emotional word choices and tone. A person’s affect also includes nonverbal communication, such as body language and gestures.

Blunted affect is a markedly diminished emotional expression.

What is Blunted Affect?

Someone with a blunted affect displays little feeling in emotional contexts. For example, a person recalling their father’s death might simply recount the factual details of the death. The person might not share much information about how they felt. They may show little facial expression or speak in a monotone voice.

Blunted affect occurs on a spectrum of expression.

  • Flat affect describes when a person displays absolutely no emotion.
  • Blunted affect is a step above flat, with some mild expression present on occasion. Any emotional display is severely restrained.
  • Restricted affect involves slightly restrained expression. It is a step below typical behavior but less severe than blunted affect.

Blunted Affect and Emotional Blunting

When blunted affect reflects a person’s emotional state, they are said to have “emotional blunting.” The person may experience an inner apathy or emptiness. They may be unable to draw up strong emotions about things they cared deeply about in the past. If someone feels little emotion, they will likely express little emotion.

Yet the amount of emotion expressed is not always the same as the amount of emotion possessed. Someone may display blunted affect yet feel strong emotions inside. One person may avoid expressing emotions to prevent feelings of vulnerability. Another person may struggle to express their feelings due to a psychological condition.

What Causes Blunted Affect?

Blunted affect is a symptom rather than a diagnosis in itself. Ongoing blunted affect is a common symptom of the following conditions:

Certain medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, can also cause blunted affect.

Treatment for Blunted Affect

A blunted affect can interfere with communication and social relationships. It can also be a sign of a larger mental health concern. People who experience ongoing blunted affect may benefit from seeing a mental health professional.

Treatment for blunted affect often involves treating the underlying diagnosis. If the person has no diagnosis, a therapist can still help them practice recognizing and communicating emotions. With time and help, a person can become better at expressing their feelings.


  1. American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
  2. Blunted affect. (n.d.) Medical Dictionary. Retrieved from
  3. Folk, J. & Folk, M. (2018, April 21). Emotional blunting anxiety symptoms. Anxiety Centre. Retrieved from
  4. Killian, S., Asmal, L., Goosen, A., Chiliza, B., Phahladira, L., & Emsley, R. (2015, June 2). Instruments measuring blunted affect in schizophrenia: A systematic review. PLoS One, 10(6). Retrieved from

Last Updated: 06-7-2018

  • Leave a Comment
  • joy p.

    April 4th, 2017 at 12:29 AM

    I want to remember blunt affect

  • Sab

    July 22nd, 2017 at 4:23 PM

    Is there a cure for blunt emotions? I dont feel sad i just feel nothing.

  • Laura

    October 12th, 2017 at 9:33 AM

    I am experiencing this and would like to know more

  • Steph

    March 14th, 2018 at 6:18 AM

    I wonder the same thing my dude, guess we’re stuck feelin empty. Least there’s marijuana stay tokin.

  • Wham-Sham!

    April 10th, 2018 at 10:25 PM

    Anti-depressants such as SSRIs and SNRIs have been known to cause reduced affect display otherwise known as emotional blunting and can persist long after discontinuation of the medication. I know because have taken Zoloft 8 months ago now, for only one week and still have emotional blunting along with sexual dysfuntion. My therapist & psychiatrist have been trying to convince me that it’s my depression but I’ve never had depression, the reason I seeked my therapist & psychiatrist in the first place was because of my OCD & social anxiety. I was a very emotional and sexual person before Zoloft and now I’m the opposite with chronic fatigue. Sure I was sad for months back in 2015 because A girl I knew went on with her life but I highly doubt that’s the reason I can’t cry or get an erection. I can’t get startled as well, someone can point a gun to my head and I won’t feel anxious, I don’t have the flight-or-fight response anymore AND IT’S ALL THANKS TO MY PSYCHIATRiST, PFIZER AND ZOLOFT

  • Wham-Sham!

    April 10th, 2018 at 10:45 PM

    Also not everyone with schizophrenia has blunted affect there are people with schizophrenia without blunted affect. People with schizophrenia who have blunted affect are also highly likely to have sexual dysfuntion. Makes you think, that maybe blunted affect is iatrogenic in nature and not due to a mental health condition.
    Here’s the study that point to the fact that blunted affect is most likely not a negative symptom of schizophrenia but rather a iatrogenic condition caused by the use of psychiatric medication:

  • "uncomfortably numb"

    September 4th, 2019 at 10:33 AM

    My “Blunt affect” or “affect” started right after my first hit with marijuana i havent been myself since tried a few top brand anti depressants they all didnt work. i dont think these doctors fully understand mental disorders. i wish i didnt smoke anything or drank any booze bc now i drink alcohol to feel again its a sad sad situation im in. i told my docs i would mind taken esketamine or psylocibin. i need help always feelin suicidal. please share this story dont do drugs or alcohol or youll end up like me. peace love happiness

  • Cindy

    December 16th, 2019 at 5:47 PM

    Your words really got to me. I am also struggling similarly. I plug along and even thrive in many parts of my life but I still experience this emotional flatness and I’m starting to seek “feeling” in other ways that are inappropriate. I have no one I can talk to about it. No one that understands it. Thanks for sharing. It made me feel less alone.

  • Gina

    February 25th, 2020 at 6:12 PM

    I have been diagnosed with sctizoaffected disorder & my friend said to me I was laughing about something & u were just no expression, I was laughing on the inside I didn’t know it didn’t show, same with my neice said are u dreaming u miles away

  • Terresha

    May 22nd, 2020 at 11:37 AM

    Someone asked if there is a cure for feeling nothing. I have read that body work ( which is a lot of things) can help with that. Some examples include, dance, sports, a technique where you tap the body and shake the muscles. Look up body work online or take a fun dance class to start. Body work is about reconnecting the body and the emotions.

  • Susan

    June 25th, 2020 at 10:14 PM

    When a person starts to struggle from his own heart, he is a valuable person

  • Gina

    November 10th, 2020 at 10:04 PM

    My ex is also taking Wellbutrin and Prozac to treat his anxiety and depression with therapy. After two years of solid relationship he shared that he feels nothing for me anymore, and that he has to fake his feelings. It’s a sad sad situation. I don’t want to walk away because I do truly love him but he’s not leaving me with a choice.

  • Bri

    August 28th, 2022 at 9:33 PM

    I have blunting showing sadness I can’t cry for anything in the world I also have schizophrenia and can not show any signs of sadness someone please help

  • Bill

    March 2nd, 2024 at 8:36 AM

    I have had some blunt affect, I would say. Possibly part of the reason is my father often used a straight face while telling us things, and even expressing concerns. So, from that possibly I learned to talk without showing emotions; so in my case blunt affect could partly come from learning behavior of a parent. And since then I might have learned to control what I showed to people, in order to hide that I was angry for stupid reasons and in order to show I had good self control when I did not. Plus, I think there can be times not to let certain people know what is going on inside of me, if they are untrustworthy people. And I have been hurt and cheated; so I emotionally might want to stay prayerful with people I don’t know, and not just get expressive too fast. So, it can be a tactic. And yes I agree that substances are only physical, not what to depend on to learn how to relate with other people; and each person is unique so we are wise to discover each one and not use some one-size-fits all approach with every person. And I offer myself to God through Jesus for correction and examination and learning how to love and feel for others; in seeking to stay attentive and submissive to God in His peace, I might show no emotion because of being busy sensing for Him, but I can have very nice quiet and be caring about various people; and the deep introspective quiet of this can be very pleasant, of caring and loving so I might not be having various emotions. I can have better peace, by not letting circumstances play and control my feelings; and this can show as rather flat, I would say, but I can be alive below, not bored and lonely but interested in others. And I can be more expressive now because I trust God so I am not so afraid of people rejecting and hurting and controlling me.

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