Have you ever had deep, intense feelings that overwhelm you to the point of exhaustion? While these emotions are unproductive and harmful, they are not deregulation. Emotional dysregulation is a confusing and scary medical condition in which someone may laugh hysterically one minute and cry the next. They seem to have no control over their feelings.
Sure, the emotions of these individuals are oversized, but this person may be really upset on things that might not bother another person at all. For example, if someone took your parking spot when you had the flashing light on, indicating that you would park there, you might be upset. However, the person with dysregulation problems cannot regulate their emotions, so they can become verbally abusive or break down and cry.
Understand emotional dysregulation
Do you think of all the people you meet and how they handle their emotions? Do you know some people who tend to have stronger feelings that are bigger than others? You can label these people as overly sensitive or thin-skinned.
Unfortunately, what often lurks behind the surface is a person who does not know how to control their emotions in the face of a coexisting mental health problem and responds quickly to triggers. However, it would be helpful to keep in mind that not all people with strong emotional reactions are experiencing dysregulation.
How you handle your feelings is part of your regulation, and dysregulation doesn’t happen until someone has intense emotions that they can’t repeatedly control. It is a real disorder that can inhibit your ability to function on a daily basis and can cause serious problems in your relationships.
An example of emotional dysregulation
If you get angry, can you calm down until you calm down again? If someone turns you on so much that your anger reaches ten, do you have the ability to go back down to four using calming skills? Someone with emotional dysregulation will have a hard time coming out of the angst of anger to reduce the situation.
This person may need an hour or even days to overcome a severe emotional episode. Someone who is experiencing dysregulation may also suffer from anxiety, and this can cause them to spiral out of control in fear of not being able to calm down. These people lack coping skills and, during these times, they often make decisions that they soon regret.
While it is easy to see how someone can let anger get out of control, a person suffering from emotional dysregulation cannot control happiness either. A promotion at work can send them out of the deepbecause they cannot control the joy they feel.
Seven key signs of emotional dysregulation
Do you have a hard time regulating your emotions no matter how hard you try? Well, here are some signs that you have a problem with deregulation.
1. You feel powerless to resolve conflicts
Problem solving is not a strong point for those with unregulated emotions. If a couple cannot agree on what color to paint the living room, the person who cannot regulate their emotions may experience extreme fear, incompetence, or anger. While it’s certainly nothing to lose sleep over, this individual takes things to the extreme.
It’s like being trapped in a pool of quicksand and not being able to break free. The more you fight the situation, the more you sink into the disparity of everything. Something as small as changing the color in the living room can end up being an all-out battle.
2. You have other mental health problems
Many mental health concerns go together. For example, a person with borderline personality disorder may have severe mood swings, depending on the Mayo Clinic.
They have trouble regulating their emotions due to their illness, so this dysregulation diagnosis may be secondary to the primary condition. In almost all cases, the person deals with high levels of anxiety and the inability to cope, which makes their life miserable. Is it any wonder why they have so much trouble in their relationships?
3. Avoid experiencing undesirable feelings
Not being able to regulate your emotions can be painful. To try to avoid this discomfort, you disconnect from your feelings. Instead of figuring out what they are and controlling them better, I’d rather avoid them.
Some people cannot accept what they feel and feel extreme sadness about the situation. This individual may repress his emotions to the point of feeling numb. While this is not a healthy way to cope, they try everything in their power to avoid an emotional outburst. Not only is it painful for them to experience it, but it is also challenging for those around them.
4. Genetic components
Does anyone else in your family have a hard time regulating their emotions? If you have a parent or grandparent with this problem, there is a strong indication that genetics could be involved. You may have been born that way, although biology does not have the power to dictate your future.
It is a greater challenge to overcome family ties, as they tend to be the deepest. However, through therapy and learned coping skills, it can be achieved.
People who experience emotional neglect As a child you may be more likely to suffer from dysregulation than others. Children learn to manage their feelings and learn coping skills early on, but the nurturing they receive can take over their nature. Your parents are the people who teach you how to solve problems and teach their children how to deal with anger and stress.
A child who is not taught such skills at a young age may struggle with this his entire life. Have you ever seen a parent give a child a cookie or ice cream to calm them down? These are negative, self-reassuring behaviors that can have serious consequences.
If you learn as a child to turn to sweets when feeling emotional, you may have a weight problem spiraling out of control. Sadly, this type of parenting can go unnoticed even in the most loving homes and can be traced back to the parents’ childhood. They copy their parenting skills from their parents, so history has a way of repeating itself until someone breaks the cycle.
6. Other disorders can fuel emotional dysregulation
Dysregulation is not a separate disorder. Instead, it is usually the secondary diagnosis of common problems like anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. It is not common for someone to have emotional dysregulation without another driving condition, as it is almost always caused by stress-related illnesses or other serious mental health disorders.
It is often the case that the person suffers from many mental health disorders, and emotional problems are the ones that take center stage as the most notorious. The sad part is that dealing with the emotional aspects will not fix conditions like bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, but it can help reduce some of the symptoms you experience.
Targeted treatment plans can help address all mental health problems, but many find that some other symptoms dissipate once the dysregulation is under control.
7. Self-destructive actions
If you have a hard time regulating your emotions, you are probably engaging in self-defeating efforts to feel better. Sadly, these behaviors will sabotage any relationship in your life. For example, if you and your partner argue, you can do your best to show this person how upset they have upset you.
When your emotions take over you, you can become Very toxic. You may insult your partner, throw things at them, or act in a way that indicates that your emotions have taken over your reason for being. When you are emotionally dysregulated, it can be scary for people who feel a lack of control.
The key is to find effective mechanisms to deal with these exaggerated feelings. Many times, people who cannot regulate their emotions will try to self-medicate to eliminate the pain. It is not uncommon for these people to be involved in gambling addictions, use drugs or alcohol, or have one night stands. These people can also participate in cutting, bingeing, or other methods to help with their anxiety.
Abigail Rolston, BA and Elizabeth Lloyd-Richardson, Ph.D., co-wrote an article for Cornell University. They discuss the importance of learning coping mechanisms to deal with the emotional dysregulation that a person experiences. Things like journaling, exercising, meditating, talking to a counselor, and knowing when to take a break are important.
In fact, it is not always easy to control your emotions. So even if you don’t have a regulation problem, having the inability to control intensity can be torture. The key is working with a therapist and uncovering the underlying health issues fueling the fire. Many people with this condition have other illnesses, such as a bipolar diagnosis or borderline personality disorder. But the role anxiety plays cannot be ignored either.
The good news is that you can learn practical coping skills to help you better regulate your emotions. Learning to identify your triggers, you can prevent an emotional escalation and the pain that accompanies it.