"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Flat affect in schizophrenia, depression, autism and more

In psychology, so-called “affect” refers to the best way you display emotions—through gestures, your tone of voice, your facial expressions, and the like. When you're completely satisfied or upset, people can often see it in your face and listen to it in your voice. But sometimes your feelings and the best way you express them don't match – there's a discrepancy between the 2. You could also be elated or depressed, but others cannot see it. You seem indifferent and apathetic, but you continue to feel a sense. This is known as flat affect. Flat affect could be the result of varied neurological and psychological disorders. There are various degrees of how much emotion you don't show – flat affect is the best level of intensity.

Flat affect is different from “emotional blunting,” wherein one feels emotionally numb or has difficulty feeling emotions.

You could have heard the terms “flat affect” and “blunted affect.” They differ depending on how much emotion you show.

Flat affect is if you feel emotions but visually show virtually nothing.

Dulled affect refers back to the feelingEmotions, but only show a part of your feelings. (It is a less intense type of flat affect because you continue to have some response.)

There is one other degree of flat affect, which is a lesser degree of the 2 mentioned above. Restricted (or restricted) affect is if you feel emotions but may also show them to a certain extent.

There are other kinds of affects related to flat affect:

Unstable affect refers to sudden changes in the best way you express emotions.

Inappropriate affect is when an emotional response doesn't appear to fit the situation (smiling if you hear someone has died).

If you’ve flat affect, symptoms may include:

  • Poor body language and gestures
  • Minimalized or missing facial expressions
  • Lack of changes in speech tone

Contact a mental health skilled if you happen to think you’re experiencing flat or blunted affect. You can use various tools to search out out if it affects you and what is perhaps causing it.

When you are feeling emotionally numb—whether you show it or not—it's called “emotional numbing.” It is some of the common uncomfortable side effects of taking antidepressants, causing some people to not proceed taking them. Emotional numbing signifies that chances are you’ll not feel positive or negative emotions.

It occurs in individuals with depression, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

When we’re numb to positive emotions but not negative ones, it is known as anhedonia. It is a standard symptom of depression and other mental illnesses.

It is a serious, long-term mental illness. Some symptoms are:

  • Believing in things that aren't real (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that don't exist (hallucinations)
  • Disorganized pondering or speaking
  • Sudden restlessness, confusion and other unusual behavior

Flat affect generally is a negative symptom of schizophrenia, meaning your emotional expression is just not outwardly visible. You may speak in a dull, flat voice and your face may not change. You can also have difficulty understanding other people's emotions. They might confuse completely satisfied and sad or misjudge how completely satisfied or sad the opposite person is perhaps.

Schizophrenia is a lifelong illness. Even in case your symptoms have disappeared, you’ll still must take medication and undergo therapy. If your symptoms are severe, chances are you’ll must go to the hospital for your individual safety or that of others.

Social skills training might help change shallow affect. This involves working with a therapist or other mental health skilled to learn the right way to communicate, interact with others, and manage on a regular basis activities.

Flat affect could be considered one of the symptoms of this mood disorder. Researchers have used film clips to check shallow affect and depression. In a small study, they found that depressed people responded less to positive scenes than individuals with schizophrenia. Depressed people also reacted somewhat more strongly to negative clips.

Experts don't know exactly why depression results in flat affect. They hypothesize that it could be related to problems in your brain chemistry, your genes, and physical changes to your brain.

Some people imagine that antidepressants cause emotional blunting specifically, while others say that it’s a symptom of depression attributable to incomplete treatment. Much continues to be unknown about emotional attenuation and antidepressants. Researchers have called for further studies to learn more concerning the mechanisms of each and the way they might influence one another.

Lack of affect and emotional dulling can impact treatment, particularly when people stop taking medications that may profit them. In one other study, nearly 75% of greater than 750 people within the acute phase of depression (and about 25% of those in remission) said they suffered from severe emotional blunting. About 56% believed depression caused the emotional blunting, while 45% said antidepressants had a negative impact on their emotions. More than a 3rd were enthusiastic about stopping medication or had already done so.

This brain damage can occur after a automobile accident, fall, or other injury that causes a tough blow to the top.

The impact knocks your brain forwards and backwards inside your skull. The trauma causes bruising and bleeding and tears nerve fibers.

TBI can injure a component of your brain called the frontal lobe. This is where emotional expression begins. Damaged frontal lobe can affect your ability to acknowledge or feel different emotions. The result generally is a flat effect. You can also miss clues in other people's body language. A brain injury may even change your personality.

TBI can range from mild to severe. Your symptoms may disappear after a couple of months or last for the remainder of your life.

Your doctor will recommend a mixture of treatments. A speech therapist or neuropsychologist can provide help to manage your emotional disorder and improve your relationships with family and friends.

A important symptom of this disease is reduced facial features. In the world of Parkinson's disease, it’s often known as “masked face,” “face masking,” or hypomimia. The lack of facial features is a results of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, which causes stiffening of the facial muscles, which might affect, for instance, your eyebrows or your smile.

If you’ve Parkinson's disease, the move may take longer. You can also have speech impediments. This could make communication difficult.

However, there are treatments to assist with facial masking if you happen to or a loved one has Parkinson's disease. Speech therapy could also be helpful, as may medications that may relieve stiffness.

Scientists know that autism and related disorders are partly genetic and in addition result from differences within the brain.

People with ASD interact, behave, and communicate in alternative ways. You may experience a flat affect. If you’ve autism and flat affect, your face often appears expressionless. Your voice may not change tone or sound robotic. You may find it difficult to read other people's voices and body language.

It could be difficult to diagnose conditions similar to anxiety or depression if you happen to (or a loved one) has ASD because there will not be many outward signs. For this reason, it is vital for nurses and doctors to observe for changes in sleep, appetite, and general mood.

There is not any cure for ASD. But medications might help with energy levels, concentration, depression and seizures. Working with a therapist can provide help to interact higher with other people.

Treating the underlying condition you’ve may help treat flat affect. That is, if you happen to don't show emotion, trying to indicate emotion will not be enough. But treating the underlying disease might help more. Some people may reply to treatment, but others may not.

Treatments for shallow affect include treatments that address the basis causes (similar to depression, schizophrenia, and others mentioned above). These treatments may include medications. This may also include speech and physical therapies. Psychiatric treatments similar to cognitive behavioral therapy may also help with shallow affective symptoms.