I become dull and emotionless for stretches of 3-5 hours at a time. What's up?
December 18, 2006 10:22 PM   Subscribe

I become dull and emotionless for stretches of 3-5 hours at a time. I don't feel depressed, I just feel absolutely nothing. I can play my favorite, rock-out song and it feels the same as listening to CSPAN. I can kiss my girlfriend and I might as well be kissing my hand. It happens regularly, usually in the afternoon, but not every day. Sometimes coffee or food can snap me out of it, sometimes not. The difference between being in or out this "mode" is very distinct. When I'm not in the "mode", I experience a pretty full, normal range of emotions and I'm not what you'd call depressed at all. Have other people experienced this? Any ideas of what causes it or how I can beat it? I hate missing out on experiences while stuck in this zombie-land.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like somebody is getting a little tired after lunch, which is pretty common. Cures include: as you mentioned, coffee, a nap, eating less, excercise, and getting better sleep.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:27 PM on December 18, 2006

It could be cyclothymia.

The specific symptom you're complaining about is called anhedonia, and it's a common symptom of mild depression, though other things can also cause it.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:30 PM on December 18, 2006

About four or five years ago, I went through a very similar thing. Three different doctors diagnosed it as mild depression and suggested anti-depressants.
For what it's worth, I didn't take the anti-depressants, but "dealt with" this feeling of nothingness by sleeping less (well, really by not TRYING to sleep when I found it difficult as I was insomniac at the time. I found I functioned better and was much happier an more "normal" on three hours a night) and exercising more. It worked wonders for me and after about a year those blank periods more or less ceased to exist, but God only knows what it might do to somebody else. Not only am I not a doctor, but I can't imagine a doctor recommending my approach
posted by bunglin jones at 12:00 AM on December 19, 2006

I remember hearing a This American Life where someone who had abnormally low levels of testosterone experienced similar symptoms. He was perfectly happy eating mayo sandwiches, as nothing tasted better or worse, for example.

Oh, and I get tired after lunch too, but not dead-to-the-world tired. This sounds medical. It's broken record time: go see a doctor, Metafilter is not the place for medical advice.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:27 AM on December 19, 2006

Speaking from experience:

Go see a doctor; I am not one. A couple of things off the top of my head that you might want to talk to the doctor about might be diet, sleep, thyroid and testosterone. If nothing comes of that you should probably see a psych- iatrist/ologist.

(I don't want to influence any hypochondrial tendencies you might have, but that sounds Very much like half of what my docs have diagnosed as cyclothymia.)

Of course, if you rock out to Enya, and your girlfriend looks like a walrus, yours would not be a problem of the mind.
posted by iurodivii at 4:13 AM on December 19, 2006

I suggest you try changing your diet, especially what you eat for breakfast and lunch, before you start taking some pills. I am not sure what would work for you, but I would start by cutting out refined sugar and eating fruit and lots of protein rich foods. But yeah, see a doctor.
posted by milarepa at 5:03 AM on December 19, 2006

I suggest trying to cut salty food out of your lunch to see if that helps, or at least adding some potassium rich food to counterbalance the sodium a bit. When I have too much salt at lunch I get almost falling-down tiredness (which I know is not exactly your problem but it's worth a try). And drink more water.
posted by teleskiving at 5:17 AM on December 19, 2006

Depression can show up as an absence of emotion or a lack of interest in things that you previously enjoyed. I would talk to a doctor, but two things that I would recommend that you can do on your own are to (1) Make sure you are getting enough - but not too much - sleep; and (2) Get at least some exercise in everyday. In fact, I would try to go for a brisk walk or do some other activity when you fall into these emotionless periods, to see if the endorphins from exercise and some fresh air help you to snap out of it. My reasoning is that if caffeine can sometimes snap you out of it, exercise is a healthier way to get those effects, and is also known to help manage depression.
posted by tastybrains at 5:46 AM on December 19, 2006

I have a friend who had this for a spell last year. She said it was called "flat affect" -- she couldn't get excited about anything. No laughing, no crying. For her, it's connected to her ongoing depression.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:41 AM on December 19, 2006

You might just have hypoglycemia. Try the simplest things first - changes to diet, get more sleep, etc. - before you look into anything drastic like taking medication.
posted by Mister_A at 7:49 AM on December 19, 2006

how about trying a nutritious lunch (maybe smoked turkey and apple on bran bread, with a little spinach salad and a big glass of water), and some caffiene (short double espresso with one cream, one sugar). then go for a brisk 15-minute walk. i bet the combination of protein, extra water, caffiene, and exercise will help.
posted by twistofrhyme at 8:23 AM on December 19, 2006

When you go into one of those spells, smoke some pot and see if it helps.
posted by melangell at 8:46 AM on December 19, 2006

What kind of doctor would you see about this? GP? Psych?
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:09 AM on December 19, 2006

I agree with Mister_A. Try to see if it's something to do with what you are putting in your body.

Maybe see a nutritionist?
posted by spec80 at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2006

Try a free experiment: eliminate carohydrates at lunch. If I have any carbs at all, I get flat, tired and sleepy in the afternoon. If not, not.

Note that this isn't a low-carb diet. Just cutting out the effect in the afternoon.
posted by KRS at 11:20 AM on December 19, 2006

Marijuana is a bad thing for people with depression. It has a rebound effect that exacerbates the depression. Alcohol is even worse in that regard, and self-treatment for depression with alcohol can lead to very serious health problems.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:20 AM on December 19, 2006

I have experienced something similar while taking Lipoic Acid. It was just supposed to reduce the toxins in my liver but I found that it suppressed my appetite and created this odd mood; not depressed, but uninterested in and unmoved by everything except techie stuff. It was a very curious sort of deadening.
posted by Clay201 at 6:09 AM on December 20, 2006

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