Dealing with uncomfortable feelings is a part of the human condition. In our daily lives, we all encounter conflict, stress, frustration, and grief – but emotional regulation helps us keep our reactions to these situations under control. By properly managing our emotions, we’re able to respond to difficulties in a healthy and socially appropriate way.
Not everyone has such a firm handle on their uncomfortable feelings, though. For some people, it can seem as though your emotions are controlling you, instead of the other way around. Maybe you’ve been called “emotionally unstable” or a “drama queen. If any of this sounds familiar, and it’s happened more times than you’d care to recall, you might be experiencing emotional dysregulation.
What Is Emotional Dysregulation?
Even though we aren’t always aware of it, we’re constantly modulating our responses to the world around us. Social interactions and stray thoughts can provoke emotional reactions, such as sadness, anger, or shock. When we encounter these feelings, we then have a choice as to how to respond. People with emotional dysregulation disorders will usually respond in an overly exaggerated manner – for example, an aggressive outburst or a self-destructive behavior – which can often lead to a chaotic and hostile environment.
Symptoms of Emotional Dysregulation
Emotional dysregulation can manifest itself in different ways. Some of the more common signs to be aware of include:
Strained interpersonal relationships
Sudden outbursts of anger
Exaggerated crying fits
Severe conflict avoidance
Wild mood swings
Impulsive and/or risky behavior
Threats of suicide
Causes of Emotional Dysregulation
The causes of emotional dysregulation disorders aren’t completely known. Some scientists believe there is a genetic component, and there is also evidence linking emotional dysregulation with traumatic brain injury or damaging life events in the past. Many people with PTSD struggle with emotional regulation, particularly when it comes to excessive fear or anxiety.
Other mental health disorders feature emotional dysregulation as well. People who suffer from borderline personality disorder have difficulty controlling their emotions and, as a result, often engage in self-destructive and risky behaviors. Bipolar disorder is also characterized by major mood swings; it is frequently misdiagnosed as borderline personality disorder, and vice versa.
How to Treat Emotional Dysregulation
Because of the link between emotional regulation and mental health, professional psychological counseling and psychiatric treatment is essential to overcoming this condition. One of the most effective methods of treating emotional dysregulation is dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT. DBT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy in which patients are taught skills and strategies for managing emotions, handling conflict, and building tolerance for uncomfortable feelings. One of the skills taught most often in DBT is mindfulness, which helps to cultivate emotional awareness and build a sense of self-control. Through both one-on-one and group sessions, patients undergoing DBT are given the opportunity to practice these newfound skills in preparation for applying them in the real world.
Alvarado Parkway Institute Offers Therapy for Emotional Dysregulation
Treating emotional dysregulation requires a serious commitment, but you don’t have to live with it forever. Help is available at Alvarado Parkway Institute. Our caring and committed staff will develop a treatment strategy that’s right for you, walking you step-by-step through the process of recovery. With over 35 years of experience providing San Diego with inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services, we can properly diagnose your condition and give you the skills you need for long-term success.
Your emotions don’t have to control you any longer. Call us at (619) 667-6125 to find out how we can help you overcome emotional dysregulation.