Feeling Empty with No Motivation

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

For the past few years, my chest has felt empty. I don’t tend to feel many emotions, and I can’t remember the last time I was happy. I don’t get angry, I don’t get annoyed, but sad is usually the strongest emotion I get. When I do get emotions, they are short-lived and leave quickly. I can get giddy around friends, and ‘hyper’ as some people call it, but it’s not a true feeling. I still feel empty. I also lack motivation. Even things I like, or I think I will like don’t interest me. I can’t make myself do what I need to do, and because of this I failed 9th grade.

I rebel against orders, even though I know I should listen, and I don’t know why. Trying to force myself to do things doesn’t work. I’m lazy and apathetic, and I can’t seem to do anything right.

I’ve felt this way for a long time. I think I can remember a time I wasn’t, but I can’t remember when it started. I don’t know what could have caused it, but I don’t want to feel this way anymore.

A: I’m so glad you wrote. My first thought is that you need to see a doctor for a medical evaluation. The feelings you are reporting may be caused by an undiagnosed illness. I can think of several that could be the source of feelings of emptiness and apathy. Before we decide this is all in your head, I want to be sure that there isn’t a physical cause that needs to be treated. I wonder if you are really rebellious. It could be that you are so discouraged and listless at this point that you can’t get up the energy to do what you need to do.

If your doctor runs tests and decides there is nothing medically wrong, then you need to see a psychiatrist. Another possibility is that you are significantly depressed.

The strongest thing you have going for you is that you don’t want to feel this way anymore. Please approach your parents about getting a physical evaluation and a psychiatric one if you need it. At 16, you should be enjoying your teen years, not suffering like this.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Feeling Empty with No Motivation. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/08/feeling-empty-with-no-motivation/

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