How Everyone Became Depressed

The rise and fall of the nervous breakdown

The Inability to Cry

The inability to feel anything -- neither sadness nor anything else – is one of the danger signs in melancholic depression. Melancholia is the severe form of depressive illness. Read More

Melancholia in 100 Words

MELANCHOLIA
Spirits bleak, week on week;
Drive is weak; God won’t speak.
Empty shell can’t get well.
Knell the bell, I’m for hell.

Wake in fright, night on night;
Worst at light; what’s that sight?
Cannot play, cannot pray.
Haste the day I decay.

Thinking slow, words don’t flow;
Why so low? Do not know.
Unlike grief, dark motif
Lacks relief, even brief.

Cannot eat, feel so beat.
Doctors treat – their conceit.
What’s this pill? Makes me ill.
It could kill – hope it will.

Cannot cry, want to die.
All is hurt, I am dirt.
Gone past sad; call me bad.

Bipolar Disorders 14: 1, 2012

So how to fix it?

I recently read a post similar to this one, that really illustrated to me that I was in much more dire straights than I realized. You perfectly describe how I feel, I never cry, and I am not even particularly sad. Just numb most of the time. But the question you don't seem to answer is: How do I fix this?

How to fix it? Not knowing

How to fix it? Not knowing anything about your situation, it's hard to offer advice. But there are non-pharmacological remedies that can in fact be quite effective. You clearly have somehow lost touch with your body. I recommend exercise therapy as a way of re-connecting with the physicality of life. If this is appropriate for you, why don't you give it a try, and then get back to us and let us know if it works.

Inability to cry

I have been unable to cry for several years now. I don't believe I'm not particularly depressed. I have always been tough, and of the mindset that you create your own happiness. People that I know would not suspect that I am depressed. I was never one prone to crying, but would cry in appropriate situations. I have not been able to cry, even at very sad movies, funerals of close friends, etc. I thought the movie, "Les Mis" would be a good test, and I did not cry. It definitely worries me. It is like something is missing. I am a nurse, full support of my family d/t my husband's disability. I have very successful children, one still at home.
Just open to suggestions, as this is very frustrating...

Inability to cry vs. inability to feel

There's a difference between the inability to feel, and the inability to feel deep sadness. The inability to feel is a sign of severe depression. An absence of deep sadness means, thank God, that you have little to feel hugely sad about. The deaths of one's parents are expected events, but the death of a child is deeply tragic, and saddens one forever. Your children seem to be very successful, as you say, and your life is otherwise in order, you and your husband coping bravely with his disability. Let's hope that you are not visited by a cause for great sadness. If you are, and are still not sad, you probably have the inability to feel -- "the feeling of not being able to feel anything" as Karl Jaspers put it -- and need to seek help.

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Edward Shorter, Ph.D., is the Jason A. Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

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