My reason for posting here is that I'm dealing with a problem which I can't really find on many psychotherapist websites in my area. It is quite a specific problem, and I would like to hear people's advice on what I should do. I'm a guy in his 20's; currently in college. A couple years ago, back in high school, I went through a very stressful period in my life, which lasted about 4-5 months. I'm talking about extremely high, life-threatening, continuous daily levels of stress. During the time, I developed some anxiety issues and common symptoms such as tingling in the hands, a fast heart-rate and heatwaves. All of these passed after this period was over quite quickly, and I didn't really have to deal with anxiety since then. However I felt different then I did before. I could not quite pinpoint what was wrong. Four years later, I'm in college, I'm doing well, and everything in my life is going well, except one thing...I can't feel any emotions. I'm not depressed, I'm not demotivated, I perform well at college, I'm productive, and I don't have any of the common tell-tale symptoms of depression. I also don't suffer from PTSD, I don't have any problems remembering that period in my life, I don't have any unresolved issues around it, I don't get flashbacks, and I don't suffer from any of the other PTSD symptoms either. I think this is mainly due to the fact that this wasn't a traumatic event in my life, but rather a long term exposure to high stress levels. I've also been in very close relationships with people who have dealt with depression, PTSD or a mixture of both, and I know everybody experiences these illnesses differently, however I do feel like I have a good understanding of these illnesses and their mechanisms, from this first hand experience and I can quite confidently state that I don't suffer from either.
I've done quite extensive reading about this over the last couple of months, and I read that the human brain, when exposed to such levels of stress and intense emotion may shut itself off to these emotions as a coping mechanism, which is also something common in people suffering from PTSD or depression. The closest name I can give to it would be anhedonia, although I consider this a bit misleading, as anhedonia is often associated with depression. Anyway, this has affected my life in a few ways, first of all, I need a constant source of adrenaline/excitement in my life, I use this to attempt to make myself feel something stronger than what I feel normally. This has taken on two forms : relationships and gambling. I've been in and out of relationships with girls that I would not necessarily date in normal circumstances, as being in a relationship or dating someone is something that is a very effective distraction from me, and allows me to experience a slightly higher level of emotion than I normally do. The problem with this is that these relationships are very short-lived, as as soon as we get past the initial couple weeks of flirting and it begins to get serious, I am unable to emotionally connect with the girl and provide her with the emotional connection she expects. This is because I have trouble feeling anything, therefore it is difficult for me to fake an emotional response towards them. Even if I do develop feelings for a girl, I often don't even recognise these until after the relationship ends. As much as during the initial, "getting to know" phase, I am able to easily socialise with them and get them to like me, once things become serious, they realise something is off with me. This is something that has caused me to end my previous few relationships, and it certainly a problem I need to solve. When it comes to gambling, it isn't something I do recklessly, I keep track of my gambling and am currently on a profit. However, I do recognise that I would probably never have started gambling in the first place, if I wasn't looking for a source of adrenaline in order to cope with the emotional numbness.
I want to get rid of this issue, as I believe that 4 years of my life is enough time living with it, and I believe that my quality of life would be much better without it. I would be able to normally experience my day-to-day life and be the person I was before this happened.
Anyway, I've been to a therapist with this, however they either classify this as depression or PTSD, and want to provide me with therapy or antidepressants. My problem with this is that I believe this issue has to be caused by a chemical imbalance of some sort in my brain, as I do not suffer from ANY other symptoms other than emotional numbness. I am open to taking some sort of medication which would fix this imbalance, however I'm not sure if antidepressants are the way to go...I do not feel like therapy would help, as I do not have anything to discuss regarding this issue, and I don't have any problems I need to get over, I consider this more as a physical illness like the common cold, and I feel like the only way to cure it is to simply handle the reason behind it.
I'd appreciate some advice if any of you have dealt with something similar!