Flat mood and affect

Treatment Options and Associated Conditions

Flat Affect: Treatment Options and Associated Conditions
  • Health Conditions
    • Featured
      • Breast Cancer
      • IBD
      • Migraine
      • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
      • Rheumatoid Arthritis
      • Type 2 Diabetes
    • Articles
      • Acid Reflux
      • ADHD
      • Allergies
      • Alzheimer's & Dementia
      • Bipolar Disorder
      • Cancer
      • Crohn's Disease
      • Chronic Pain
      • Cold & Flu
      • COPD
      • Depression
      • Fibromyalgia
      • Heart Disease
      • High Cholesterol
      • HIV
      • Hypertension
      • IPF
      • Osteoarthritis
      • Psoriasis
      • Skin Disorders and Care
      • STDs
  • Discover
    • Wellness Topics
      • Nutrition
      • Fitness
      • Skin Care
      • Sexual Health
      • Women's Health
      • Mental Well-Being
      • Sleep
    • Product Reviews
      • Vitamins & Supplements
      • Sleep
      • Mental Health
      • Nutrition
      • At-Home Testing
      • CBD
      • Men’s Health
    • Original Series
      • Fresh Food Fast
      • Diagnosis Diaries
      • You’re Not Alone
      • Present Tense
    • Video Series
      • Youth in Focus
      • Healthy Harvest
      • No More Silence
      • Future of Health
  • Plan
    • Health Challenges
      • Mindful Eating
      • Sugar Savvy
      • Move Your Body
      • Gut Health
      • Mood Foods
      • Align Your Spine
    • Find Care
      • Primary Care
      • Mental Health
      • OB-GYN
      • Dermatologists
      • Neurologists
      • Cardiologists
      • Orthopedists
    • Lifestyle Quizzes
      • Weight Management
      • Am I Depressed? A Quiz for Teens
      • Are You a Workaholic?
      • How Well Do You Sleep?
    • Tools & Resources
      • Health News
      • Find a Diet
      • Find Healthy Snacks
      • Drugs A-Z
      • Health A-Z
  • Connect
      • Breast Cancer
      • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
      • Psoriatic Arthritis
      • Migraine
      • Multiple Sclerosis
      • Psoriasis

Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD — By Kimberly Holland — Updated on Aug 4, 2017


Flat affect is a condition that causes people to not express emotions in the same way other people might.

For example, when a person without flat affect is happy, they may smile brightly or in some other way show that they’re pleased. A person with flat affect shows no facial expressions. They may also have no verbal reaction.

Flat affect is a symptom of other conditions. It’s not a condition or disorder on its own.

People who show symptoms of flat affect should be examined by a psychologist or psychiatrist. These doctors diagnose and treat mental health conditions. Many of the underlying causes for flat affect are the result of a mental health disorder or disease.

People who experience flat affect show symptoms including:

  • no or low emotional expression on the face
  • no or low emotional reaction in both verbal and nonverbal ways
  • appearance of apathy
  • a monotone speaking voice
  • avoidance of eye contact with others
  • little to no change in facial expressions

Most of the conditions that cause flat affect are related to the brain. These conditions include:

  • Schizophrenia: This disorder affects everything from how a person performs tasks and behaves, to how they feel and react. Some people with schizophrenia report they still experience a wide range of emotions, but they may not show those emotions in the form of facial expressions.
  • Autism: Flat affect is common in people with an autism spectrum disorder. Some people with autism appear to have little emotional reaction to activities.
  • Depression: The chemical imbalances of depression may interfere with proper brain function. This can lead to symptoms including flat affect.
  • Brain damage: Injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury, can cause a variety of symptoms. These include depressed mood, loss of interest in things that typically produce pleasure, and flat affect.
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder: This disorder is common in individuals who have experienced a significant event which was perceived as traumatic. The resulting condition causes a variety of symptoms, including depression, anxiety, emotional withdrawal, and flat affect.

Two other common causes of flat affect are not the result of altered brain activity. These include:

  • Side effects of medications: Some medications like antidepressants and seizure drugs may impact affect.
  • Facial paralysis or muscle disorders: Muscle disorders or facial paralysis may prevent some people from displaying the emotions they feel.

Flat affect may be the result of unusual brain activity. Specifically, the area of the brain that’s responsible for arousal doesn’t appear as active as it does in people who don’t experience the lack of emotions.

Exhibiting signs of flat affect doesn’t mean a person doesn’t experience emotions. Some people with flat affect report that they feel emotions, but they just don’t show it on their face or in their actions. This isn’t because they don’t have the feelings. Their brain and body have a hard time translating an emotion into a physical reaction.

Treatment for flat affect falls into two main categories.

The first treatment type aims to address the underlying cause of symptoms. For many of the most common causes of flat affect, medications, therapy, or some combination of the two may greatly reduce symptoms. Treating these primary causes may increase the display of emotions.

The second treatment type helps individuals with flat affect learn to create emotional reactions when they don’t naturally occur. A psychologist, behavioral therapist, or occupational therapist can help individuals recognize emotions in other people and create appropriate responses. Speech-language pathologists can help individuals train their voice to express more emotion using different tones of voice. These responses may include both facial reactions and verbal communication techniques. Learning to respond to others can help create and support social relationships.

Flat affect is a symptom of several conditions. Preventing or treating those conditions avoids the possible side effect.

If you’ve been diagnosed with any of the conditions, work with a doctor, therapist, or neurology specialist to treat the underlying cause. Getting ahead of symptoms and treating them before they worsen can help prevent flat affect.

Flat affect is a symptom of several mental health conditions. These conditions can be treated. Treating the underlying cause can help prevent or improve symptoms like flat affect.

The good news for some people with flat affect is that treatment can help restore normal emotional display. For some people, however, the condition may be permanent.

Last medically reviewed on August 4, 2017

How we reviewed this article:

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Autism spectrum disorder. (2015).
  • Gur RE, et al. (2006). Flat affect in schizophrenia: Relation to emotion processing and neurocognitive measures. DOI:
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016). Schizophrenia: Symptoms and causes.
  • Schizophrenia. (2016).
  • Woodbury-Smith MR, et al. (2010). Autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and diagnostic confusion. DOI:

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

Aug 4, 2017

Written By

Kimberly Holland

Medically Reviewed By

Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD

Share this article

Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD — By Kimberly Holland — Updated on Aug 4, 2017

Read this next

  • Blunted Affect: When Your Face Doesn’t Reveal Your Feelings

    Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD

    Blunted affect is a decreased ability to express emotion through your facial expressions, tone of voice, and physical movements. We explore common…


  • Understanding Parkinsonian Gait

    Medically reviewed by Seunggu Han, M.D.

    People with Parkinsonian gait usually take small, shuffling steps and might have difficulty picking up their feet. Here’s what you need to know.


  • What You Need to Know About Borderline Personality Disorder and Relationships

    Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD

    Borderline personality disorder and relationships can be a complicated mix. Being aware of the impact of BPD, seeking professional help, and offering…


  • What You Should Know About an Unsteady Gait

    Medically reviewed by Timothy Gossett, M.D.

    Unsteady gait is a symptom of instability while walking. Problems with walking can be due to disease or injury to the legs, feet, spine, or brain.


  • The Best SAD Lamps for Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Use Them

    Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT

    A SAD lamp can help alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Learn more about SAD lamps, how to use them, features to look for, and products…


Flat Affect in Schizophrenia, Depression, Autism, & More

Written by Alyson Powell Key

Medically Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on January 24, 2023

In this Article

  • Blunted Affect vs. Flat Affect
  • Flat Affect Symptoms
  • What Does Emotional Blunting Mean?
  • Flat Affect and Schizophrenia
  • Flat Affect and Depression
  • Flat Affect and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Flat Affect and Parkinson's Disease
  • Flat Affect and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Flat Affect and Blunted Affect Treatment

In psychology, what's known as your "affect" refers to how you portray emotions -- through gestures, your tone of voice, facial expressions, and the like.  If you’re happy or upset, people usually can see it on your face and hear it in your voice. But sometimes your emotions and how you express them don’t match up -- there's a disconnect between the two. You may be elated or depressed, but others can’t tell. You may seem uncaring and unresponsive, but you're still feeling an emotion. This is called flat affect. Flat affect can be the result of different neurological and psychological conditions. There are varying degrees of how much emotion you don't show -- flat affect is the highest level of intensity.

Flat affect differs from "emotional blunting," which is when you feel emotionally numb or have a hard time feeling emotions.




Blunted Affect vs. Flat Affect

You may have heard the terms flat affect and blunted affect. They differ based on how much emotion you show. 

Flat affect is when you feel emotions but show practically nothing visually.

Blunted affect refers to feelingemotions but only showing some of what you're feeling. (It's a less intense form of the flat affect because you still show some response.)

There's another degree of flat affect, which is a lesser degree of the two above. Constricted (or restricted) affect is when you feel emotions but have some degree of showing it.

There are other types of affect related to flat affect: 

Labile affect refers to sudden shifts in how you express emotion.

Inappropriate affect is when an emotional reaction doesn't seem to fit the situation (smiling when you hear someone died).

Flat Affect Symptoms

If you have flat affect, you may have:

  • Lack of body language and gestures
  • Minimalized or absent facial expressions
  • Lack of shifts in speech tone

See a mental health professional if you think you may experience flat or blunted affect. They can utilize different tools to see if you have it and what may be causing it.


What Does Emotional Blunting Mean?

If you're feeling emotionally numb -- whether you show it or not -- that's referred to as "emotional blunting." It's one of the most common side effects of taking antidepressants, which causes some people not to continue on them. Emotional blunting means you may not feel positive or negative emotions.

It occurs in people with depression, schizophrenia, and posttraumatic stress disorder.  

When we are numb to positive emotions but not negative ones, that's called anhedonia. It's a common symptom of depression and other mental health conditions.


Flat Affect and Schizophrenia

This is a serious, long-term mental illness. Some symptoms include:

  • Believing things that aren’t real (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that don’t exist (hallucinations)
  • Disorganized thinking or speech
  • Sudden agitation, confusion, and other unusual behaviors

A flat affect can be a negative symptom of schizophrenia, meaning that your emotional expressions don’t show outwardly. You may speak in a dull, flat voice and your face may not change. You also may have trouble understanding emotions in other people. You might confuse happy and sad, or misjudge just how happy or sad the other person might be.

Schizophrenia is a lifelong illness. Even if your symptoms have gone away, you’ll need to stay on medication and get therapy. If your symptoms are severe, you may need to go to the hospital for your or other people’s safety.

Social skills training can help change a flat affect. This is when you work with a therapist or other mental health expert to learn how to communicate, interact with others, and manage everyday activities.

Flat Affect and Depression

A flat affect can be one of the symptoms of this mood disorder. Researchers have used movie clips to study flat affect and depression. In one small study, they found that people who are depressed reacted less to positive scenes than people with schizophrenia did. Depressed people also reacted slightly more to negative clips.

Experts don’t exactly know why depression leads to a flat affect. They think it may be linked to things such as a problem with your brain chemistry, your genes, and physical changes to your brain.

Some people believe antidepressants lead to emotional blunting, specifically, but others say it's a symptom of depression caused by incomplete treatment. There's a lot that's still unknown about emotional blunting and antidepressants. Researchers have called for more studies to learn about the mechanisms of both and how they may impact one another. 

Flat affect and emotional blunting can have an impact on treatment, especially if people go off medication they can benefit from. In another study, nearly 75% of more than 750 people in the acute phase of depression (and about 25% of those in remission) said they had severe emotional blunting. About 56% thought depression caused the emotional blunting, while 45% said antidepressants had a negative effect on their emotions. More than one-third were thinking of stopping medication or had already done so.

Flat Affect and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

This brain damage can happen after a car crash, a fall, or any other injury that causes a hard hit to the head.

The impact bounces your brain back and forth inside your skull. The trauma causes bruising and bleeding and tears the nerve fibers.

TBI can hurt a part of your brain called the frontal lobe. That’s where emotional expressions start. A damaged frontal lobe may cost you your ability to recognize or feel different emotions. The result can be a flat affect. You also may miss cues in other people’s body language. A brain injury can even change your personality.

TBI can range from mild to severe. Your symptoms may go away after a few months, or they may last for the rest of your life. 

Your doctor will recommend a combination of treatments. A speech therapist or neuropsychologist can help you manage your flat affect and improve your relationships with family and friends.


Flat Affect and Parkinson's Disease

A main symptom of this disease is having less facial expression. In the Parkinson's disease world, it's known as "masked face," "facial masking," or hypomimia. The lack of facial expression is a result of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, which stiffens muscles in the face that can affect your eyebrows or smile, for example.

If you have Parkinson's disease, it can take longer to move. You may also have speech impairments. This can make it harder to communicate.

But there are treatments to help with facial masking if you or a loved one has Parkinson's disease. Speech therapy may be able to help, as can medications that can ease rigidity.

Flat Affect and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Scientists know that autism and related disorders stem partly from genetics as well as differences in the brain.

People with ASD interact, behave, and communicate in different ways. They may experience flat affect. If you have autism and flat affect, your face often may appear blank. Your voice may not change tone or may sound robot-like. You may have a hard time reading other people’s voices and body language.

It can be difficult to diagnose conditions like anxiety or depression if you (or a loved one) has ASD, because there may not be many outward signs. That’s why it’s important for caregivers and doctors to check for changes in sleep, appetite, and overall mood.

There’s no cure for ASD. But medication can help with energy level, focus, depression, and seizures. Working with a therapist can help you better relate to other people.

Flat Affect and Blunted Affect Treatment

Treating the underlying disorder you have can help treat flat affect. That is, if you don't show emotion, trying to make yourself show emotion may not do the trick. But treating the underlying condition may help more. Some people may respond to treatment, but others may not.

Treatments for flat affect include treatments that address the causes (like depression, schizophrenia, and others mentioned above). These treatments can include medications. It can also include speech and physical therapies. Mental health treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy can also help with flat affect symptoms.

What is the difference between mood and feeling?

Articles › What is different › What is the difference between a person's feelings and his emotions social science Grade 6?

Unlike feelings, moods do not have an object attachment: they arise not in relation to someone or something, but in relation to the life situation as a whole. In this regard, moods, unlike feelings, cannot be ambivalent.

  1. What is the difference between emotions and feelings?
  2. What are moods and feelings? nine0010
  3. What are the similarities and differences between emotions and feelings?
  4. How does affect differ from mood?
  5. What about feelings What about emotions?
  6. What are feelings in simple terms?
  7. How is this a person of mood?
  8. How to understand the mood?
  9. What kind of feelings can there be?
  10. What is the difference between feelings and emotions example?
  11. What is the essence of feeling?
  12. How many emotions do we have? nine0010
  13. What influences our mood?
  14. What are the states of mind?
  15. How to prove that you were in a state of passion?
  16. Where do feelings and emotions come from?
  17. How are feelings expressed?
  18. What is the difference between feelings and emotions Grade 4?
  19. Where does mood come from?
  20. What to do if you are not in the mood?
  21. When a bad mood it?
  22. How many feelings and emotions? nine0010
  23. What is flat affect?
  24. What is the difference between passion and effect?
  25. What are mood backgrounds?
  26. How many emotions does a person have?
  27. What are people called who feel emotions?
  28. What is the name of a person who feels emotions?

What is the difference between emotions and feelings?

Unlike emotions and moods, the emotional processes described by the term "feeling" are attached to objects: they arise in relation to someone or something, and not to the situation as a whole. “I am afraid of this person” is a feeling, and “I am afraid” is an emotion. Feelings differ from affects in the same way that they differ from emotions. nine0003

What are moods and feelings?

Feelings are distinguished by a specific attachment to a person, object or phenomenon. Experiences are the subjective side of the mental process, without a specific physiological manifestation. Mood is a broader concept that has a real physical embodiment. It affects health and success.

What are the similarities and differences between emotions and feelings?

Emotions are quick and short elements of feelings. Feelings are the lasting and more enduring basis of flashing emotions↑. It is easier to talk about emotions because they are not so intimate, emotions are on the surface, and feelings are in depth. Emotions, unless a person specifically hides them, are obvious. nine0003

What is the difference between affect and mood?

Affects differ from feelings, moods and emotions primarily by their intensity and short duration, and also by the fact that they always arise in response to a situation that has already arisen. Experiences are understood only as the subjective-psychic side of emotional processes, which does not include physiological components.

What about feelings What about emotions?

Emotion is always a direct experience. Feelings are always mediated by consciousness. They are associated with certain knowledge, understanding of the object, include memory, processes of thinking and will. Emotions are often unconscious, so it is very difficult to relate them to a specific object. nine0003

What are feelings in simple terms?

Feelings (eng. sentiments) - stable emotional experiences of a person that arise in the process of his relationship with the outside world. Feelings are formed and developed in the course of development and upbringing of a person.

How is a person of mood?

About a person whose actions are determined by his state of mind ◆ There is no example of usage (see recommendations).

How to understand the mood?

10 proven ways to cheer yourself up:

  • Energizing playlist Make a playlist of your favorite tracks that energize you.
  • Physical activity Be aware of the link between mental and physical health.
  • Call a friend
  • Reason to laugh
  • Simple targets
  • Good movie
  • Little wishes
  • Return to reality

What kind of feelings can there be?

The list includes: admiration, adoration, aesthetic appreciation, fun, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, embarrassment, craving, disgust, sympathy, pain, envy, excitement, fear, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, romantic mood, sadness, satisfaction, sexual desire, sympathy, triumph. nine0003

How do feelings differ from emotions example?

Emotions are short-term instantaneous experiences, and feelings are longer, settled experiences. That is, feelings are a more complex process that is associated with thinking, beliefs, experience, and a person’s attitude to the situation.

What is the essence of feeling?

Feelings are the attitudes of a person to objects and phenomena of reality experienced in various forms. if a person is deprived of the opportunity to experience feelings, then the so-called “emotional hunger” sets in, which he seeks to satisfy by listening to his favorite music, reading an action-packed book, etc.

How many emotions do we have?

Science recognizes six classic human emotions: happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, anger and sadness.

What influences our mood?

During the day, our mood changes due to daily hormonal cycles. In the morning we get a concentrated dose of cortisol - this is necessary to wake up and be productive. The closer to the evening, the lower the level of cortisol. Therefore, we become calm and less active.

What are the states of mind?

The main emotional states distinguished in psychology: 1) Joy (satisfaction, fun) 2) Sadness (apathy, sadness, depression), 3) Anger (aggression, anger), 4) Fear (anxiety, fright), 5) Surprise (curiosity), 6) Disgust (contempt, disgust).

How to prove that you were in a state of passion?

As a rule, the state of emotional affect is accompanied by explanations of the person about the facts with the presence of the phrases “I remember vaguely”, “something broke in me”, “as in a dream”, etc. At the same time, all attention, all thoughts are concentrated exclusively on the object of irritation - the victim. nine0003

Where do feelings and emotions come from?

On the emergence of emotions

Back in the 1950s, Paul McLane, an American neurophysiologist, discovered that emotions arise in special brain structures, which he called limbic structures. These are subcortical formations - the amygdala, the septum of the brain and others.

How are feelings expressed?

Feelings are expressed in emotions. Emotions are understood as the direct experience of various specific events and situations of life. Emotions are formed in the course of human activity aimed at satisfying his needs. The peculiarity of emotions and feelings depends on the needs, intentions and aspirations of a person. nine0003

What is the difference between feelings and emotions Grade 4?

Feelings are deep manifestations of emotions, they are constant and long-term, while emotions are situational, appearing and disappearing quickly against the background of a changing situation around a person. Emotions are easy to recognize by external signs, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures.

Where does mood come from?

The mood of people from the position of psychology is determined by the general background of the mental activity of the individual. These are emotions that are stable over time, that is, they persist for hours and days. Mood is not a simple flash in the psyche caused by an external factor, but a stable state. nine0003

What to do if you are not in the mood?

10 ways to beat a bad mood:

  • Food and sports Even a piece of chocolate can turn our mood upside down.
  • Get creative
  • Smile
  • Do a good deed
  • Listen to music
  • Don't take it out on others
  • Seize the moment
  • Breathe and clear your mind
  • nine0115

    When is it a bad mood?

    A bad mood is a normal condition for a person, it appears periodically and is even useful to some extent. Spleen, boredom, apathy can last for several days, they do not pose a danger to a person's mental health. You can wait out a bad mood, gather your thoughts and continue life.

    How many feelings and emotions?

    After studying the data obtained, scientists identified 27 different categories of emotions: admiration, tenderness, aesthetic pleasure, fun, anger, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, embarrassment, lust, disgust, sympathy, numbness, emotional arousal, fear, horror , interest, joy, longing, relief

    What is flat affect?

    Degrees of emotional disturbance

    Flat affect (English flat affect) - an extreme degree of dullness of affect, the expression of emotions is almost or completely absent: minimal mimic expressive manifestations, lack of gesticulation and a monotonous voice.

    What is the difference between passion and effect?

    Passion is a long-lasting, stable and deep feeling that has become a characteristic of a person. Affects are called extremely strong, rapidly emerging and rapidly flowing short-term emotional states (affects of despair, rage, horror). nine0003

    What are mood backgrounds?

    There are several types of emotional background:

    Increased - accompanied by such feelings as enthusiasm, joy, happiness, love. Unstable - the mood often and rapidly changes from euphoria and happiness to sadness and apathy.

    How many emotions does a person have?

    Science recognizes six classic human emotions: happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, anger and sadness.

    What are people called who feel emotions? nine0067

    Empaths can sense the physical and spiritual state of other people, as well as simply understand their intentions and what drives them. Many empaths experience chronic fatigue and unexplained pain.

    What is the name of a person who feels emotions?

    Empathy (Greek ἐν - "in" + Greek πάθος - "passion", "suffering", "feeling", "sympathy") - conscious empathy with the current emotional state of another person without losing the sense of the origin of this experience. Accordingly, an empath is a person with a developed capacity for empathy. nine0003

    Inadequate affect - Psychological Center "Transfiguration"

    Affect refers to the external expression of a person's inner emotions. For most people there is a correspondence between affect and circumstance; for example, if you are told that your friend has passed away, your reaction will be sadness and tears. Inappropriate affect

    However, for a certain percentage of the population, external affect does not match the situation in which he is. This is called inappropriate affect and can have many causes. nine0003

    If you know someone who smiles during a tragedy or does not show emotion when one would expect it, they may be experiencing inappropriate emotions.

    In order to fully understand the ramifications of inappropriate affect, we will look in detail at symptoms, causes, related conditions, diagnosis, coping, treatment, and related issues.


    As already noted, inappropriate affect involves the manifestation of reactions that are not appropriate for the situation in which you are, or perhaps even your inner state. nine0003

    Emotions, actions or general behavior that seem out of place in the situation fall under the general term "inappropriate affect".

    Inappropriate affect can be a sign of various physical or mental problems, but it can also be the disorder itself. Psychiatrists and other professionals have recognized inappropriate affect as a problem among patients for over 100 years, reporting events such as laughter or tears without any reason.

    In a 1909 study of what we now call schizophrenia, Stransky called "intrapsychic ataxia" a condition involving a disturbance between thoughts and affects. At 19Bleuler noted in 1950 that the clinical prognosis of schizophrenic patients who exhibited inadequate affect was much worse than those who did not.

    The six types of basic emotions and their influence on human behavior


    There are a number of different potential causes of inappropriate affect, but they fall under the categories described below.

    Brain damage or neurological dysfunction

    Inappropriate affect may be the result of physical damage to the brain, such as that caused by a brain tumor, brain injury, dementia, brain injury, head trauma, etc.

    When inappropriate affect is the result of a structural problem in the brain, the limbic system, anterior cingulate cortex, and prefrontal cortex are usually affected.

    Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders

    The second major cause of inappropriate affect is psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Often these people have not lost the capacity for emotional reactions, but seem to have lost the capacity for their normal and expected development. This is because their affect is a reaction to their hallucinations or delusions and their assumptions about the causes of other people's actions. nine0003

    Instead, they may have strange reactions that make no sense to an outside observer. Thus, they display emotions and behaviors that seem inconsistent with the reality of the situation, but in fact they correspond to their internal experience of the situation.

    In schizophrenia, a type of inappropriate affect is sometimes called "flat affect" when it appears as a reduced expression of emotion.

    Can antidepressants cause emotional numbness? nine0067

    Psychological factors

    There may be other causes of inappropriate affect that are not related to brain damage or mental disorder. In most of these cases, the person is able to respond normally, but for one reason or another, not. For example, a person in therapy may laugh while describing a difficult situation in order to control their emotions in self-defense.


    If you are concerned that you or someone you know is living with inappropriate affect, it is important to get a diagnosis from a licensed mental health professional. Your doctor can refer you to the necessary specialists, such as a neurologist, psychologist or psychiatrist. nine0003

    The first step would usually be to rule out any physical or neurological condition causing the inappropriate affect. Your mental health professional may use a mental status examination, which is a structured way to observe and evaluate a person's psychological function in terms of attitude, behavior, cognition, judgment, mood, perception, and thought processes.

    Often, inappropriate affect is a symptom of another disorder rather than the syndrome itself, so psychiatric disorders will be evaluated, which may also be a potential cause. The severity of the problem will also be assessed to determine where it is in the mild to severe range. nine0003

    as clinical interviews help diagnose mental illness

    Conditions that cause an inappropriate effect of

    with inadequate affect, various states can be associated:

    • Mental Disorders
    • Large depressive disorder
    • Schizoid personality disorder
    • 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000
    • Schizoaffective disorder
    • Psychopathy

      • Uncontrollable crying, even when not sad
      • Acknowledging that your reactions are inappropriate
      • Emotions that do not correspond to the reality of the situation
      • Show happiness during a tragedy
      • Get angry without any lack of external provocation expected
      • Bad affect reactions (but not in the case of simple suppression of emotions)
      • Obviously, the specific types of symptoms experienced will depend on the underlying cause of the inappropriate affect. nine0010

      Types of inappropriate affect

      In addition to the general symptoms of inappropriate affect, there are a number of specific categories into which symptoms can be grouped. Remember that an inappropriate affect is simply something that doesn't fit the situation or the person's inner emotional state.

      The different types are listed below.

      Blunt effect

      Dullness of affect is a common symptom of schizophrenia and related disorders and refers to a reduced level of intensity of emotional expression. A person with blunted affect feels little even in emotional situations. For example, a person with blunted affect might tell a story about a car accident, but say little about how it made them feel, speak in a monotone, and not have many facial expressions. nine0003

      Limited influence

      Limited affect is a reduction in the range of expression. So, a person describing a car accident may show some feelings and emotions, but this is less than one would expect based on the content of what he said.

      Flat affect

      Flat affect means a complete absence of feelings or emotions, regardless of the circumstances. It is a step below blunted affect, since it is completely devoid of emotional expression. nine0003

      Labile affect

      A person with labile affect shows rapid changes in his emotions that do not seem to be related to any external situations or seem out of place for the given situation. In other words, if you have a labile affect, you will exhibit rapid and repetitive changes in mood or affect. It seems that a person with a labile affect cannot control his emotions.

      This type of affect is often seen in neurological disorders such as pseudobulbar affect, in manic episodes in bipolar disorder, and in borderline personality disorder. Labile affect can also result from fatigue, stress/anxiety, and overstimulation. nine0003

      Superficial affect

      Superficial affect has the same meaning as blunt affect, but is often used to describe the emotional experience of people with psychopathy. A person with superficial affect will not experience much emotion in situations that may evoke certain feelings.

      This means that the things that make most people feel negative emotions don't have the same effect on psychopaths. For example, American serial killer Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker, when he was sentenced to death, replied: “Big deal. Death has always gone along with the territory. See you at Disneyland." nine0003


      Treatment of inappropriate affect depends on the underlying cause. Proper treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis, which is why it's important to see a doctor if you or someone you know is suffering from these symptoms.

      Most types of inappropriate affects can be treated with medication, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Even if psychotherapy is used, it is usually an adjunct to medication, because therapy on its own often does not solve the problem. nine0003

      Helping someone with inappropriate influences

      If you are caring for a person who is experiencing inappropriate emotions, it can be difficult for you too. You may react negatively or defensively to the other person's behavior, which can make the situation worse. You may also be confused by their behavior and not sure how to react.

      As a caregiver, it is important that you find time for yourself as well. Support groups or other ways to connect with others who are experiencing the same problems can be helpful. You can also consider talking therapy for yourself to better learn how to manage the situation and your needs and emotions. nine0003


      If you live with inappropriate affect, it can be difficult to know how to cope. Below are some tips on how to minimize the impact of inappropriate exposure on your life.

      Seek professional help

      Visit a doctor to determine the root cause of your inappropriate affect. This person will be able to recommend the appropriate treatment for your situation.

      Rely on friends and family

      If you have a neurological condition that causes you to react inappropriately, it may be helpful to tell those closest to you so they can better understand what is going on.

      Learn more