Why You Feel Drained and Depressed After Being Vulnerable

Jennifer McDougall
5 min readAug 8, 2022

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you had to be vulnerable? Maybe it’s when you told your partner about something that happened at work or home, or perhaps it was opening up about something personal to a friend or family member.

Why You Feel Drained and Depressed After Being Vulnerable
Photo by Poonam Dhiman on Unsplash

Whatever the reason, once the vulnerability is out there and no longer secreted away inside of yourself, it can feel scary — especially if what comes next is judgment or criticism from someone else. It’s an unfortunate cycle: We let ourselves be open and vulnerable with someone only to find out they don’t respect us as much as we thought they did. But why does this happen? Why do we feel drained and depressed after being vulnerable? Here are some reasons why this happens:

Vulnerability can intensify negative feelings and make your emotions feel larger.

You’re feeling more emotional. For example, you might feel sadder or notice unpleasant emotions (like anxiety) more strongly than usual. That’s because being vulnerable can make you feel more sensitive to your feelings and the emotions of others, according to Dr. Smith-McKeever.

You’re noticing more of what’s going on around you in general. “Vulnerability is a gateway emotion that opens up the floodgates for other feelings like anger and sadness,” says Dr. Smith-McKeever. When we become emotionally vulnerable, we become aware of how much our actions affect others — and it’s often quite a lot! So when it comes to being honest with yourself about how people around you feel after an interaction, this awareness can allow for plenty of perspective-taking and empathy for both yourself and others involved in the situation.

The positive, uplifting qualities of vulnerability are often under-talked about, so it can come as a shock when you experience the less ideal side effects.

There are a few things that can happen after you’re vulnerable:

  • You feel stronger after sharing something personal and raw — whether with one person or a room full of people — you’re left with a sense of accomplishment and strength. It feels good to finally speak…

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Jennifer McDougall

Digital marketer who loves holistic wellness and self-improvement. Listen to my podcast: LIFE REFINED & shop all my products here: Stan.store/jennifermcdougall_