Emotional dysregulation is a concept where a person may experience difficulty in their being when it comes to regulating one’s emotions. It is described as a condition that influences a person’s approach to experiencing as well as managing their emotions.

Emotional dysregulation is known to be quite common in children and adolescents and can also continue into a child’s adulthood. It can exhibit itself in many different ways, for instance starting to feel overwhelmed by allegedly inconsequential things, struggling to control one’s impetuous behavior, and/or being prone to experiencing unpredictable outbursts.

Some common symptoms include frequently enduring intense emotional reactions to situations that would not usually have much of an effect on other people, mood swings, feeling overwhelmed by emotions, having intense emotions that are difficult to control, inability to cope with stress, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and excessive substance use.

Emotion Dysregulation can also be explained as a situation in which a person cannot efficiently manage the magnitude as well as the duration of negative emotions like fear, sadness, and/or anger. The effects of an extended negative emotion can very well be physically, emotionally as well as behaviourally acute. For instance, a seemingly regular argument with a friend or family member may trigger an overreaction in a person that in turn can greatly impact a person’s life. They could obsess over the events of the argument and in turn, lose their peace of mind due to this overthinking. People with emotional dysregulation may lack the presence of a systemic and suitable system of emotional responses to situations they may experience. Gradually over time, these outbursts of extreme emotions may begin to cause hindrance to a person’s quality of life, social interactions, and relationships at home, work, or school.

Being unable to manage your emotions and their effects on your behavior can have a multitude of negative effects on your adult life. For instance:

One might experience trouble sleeping.

People might struggle to let experiences go or hold grudges longer than they should.

They might have trouble resolving conflict.

They might get into minor arguments that get blown out of proportion to the point that they end up ruining relationships.

One might experience negative effects on their social, work, or school functioning.

They might develop a mental disorder later in life because of a poor ability to regulate their emotions (for example, depression)

One might develop a substance abuse problem or addiction to smoking, drinking, and/or drugs.

People might also engage in self-harming or other disorderly behavior such as restrictive eating habits or binge eating.

People with emotional dysregulation also sometimes find it difficult to successfully maintain their relationships. It is oftentimes challenging and taxing on a person to be in a relationship with someone who is emotionally dysregulated. They may be prone to emotional outbursts and/or could even become verbally abusive while experiencing such outbursts. They may also hold grudges or blow minor conflicts up into huge blowouts, which can affect their relationships, eventually starting to ruin them. Couples who struggle with emotional dysregulation frequently experience lower relationship satisfaction as well as intimacy relations. Some of the usual problems that such couples face are reactive and often impulsive behaviors, like attacking or withdrawing from the relationship (or both), frequent misunderstandings that are difficult to recover from, and overthinking. 

When someone is unable to efficiently cope with their emotions and regulate themselves, they might turn to substances like drugs or alcohol as a means of escape. Emotional dysregulation also has been known to induce serious psychological effects on one’s life. People who are emotionally dysregulated could also experience anxiety or depression, with one random issue influencing (and sometimes aggravating) the other. They may also experience intense levels of shame or anger (toward themselves or others) as well. 

Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.

About MindTribe.in.

MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.

About the Author.

Shreya Bhatia is a psychologist at MindTribe.in. You can learn more about her by clicking here

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MindTribe.in, the Founders, or management team.

Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.


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