top of page

Unlocking Mental Well-being: iflow Psychology
Your Trusted Resource for Psychological Support

Your Sydney Psychologists, Australia.

Meltdown or Calm Down? Calm the Storm: Coping Strategies for Emotional Dysregulation

Updated: 2 days ago

Are you tired of feeling like you're riding an emotional rollercoaster with no brakes? Do you find yourself bursting into tears at the sight of a cute puppy or exploding in anger over a forgotten grocery item? Well, fear not, because you're not alone! Welcome to our blog on emotional dysregulation, where we'll explore the highs, lows, and everything in between our unpredictable feelings. So, slap on your comfiest pair of sweatpants, jump into your favourite sitting spot and let's explore how to get off the roller coaster and find a smoother ride!


Learn-to-calm-down-instead-of-meltdown
Feeling life you are losing it?

What is Emotional Dysregulation?

Emotional dysregulation refers to difficulties in managing and expressing emotions in an adaptive and appropriate way. It is a term used to describe a range of problems with emotional processing and regulation that can lead to intense, overwhelming, or inappropriate emotional responses.

People who experience emotional dysregulation may have difficulty managing their emotions in response to different situations or triggers. They may experience intense or prolonged emotional reactions, have difficulty regulating their emotional responses, and have trouble returning to a baseline emotional state after an emotional event.


Emotional dysregulation can manifest in a variety of ways, including frequent mood swings, emotional outbursts, difficulty coping with stress, and problems with interpersonal relationships. It is a common feature of many mental health conditions, including borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.


When we become emotionally dysregulated we can experience a fast heart rate, shaking, and intense emotions, and say things we later regret. While some people act out their dysregulation by yelling, storming away or worse becoming violent, others can internalise their emotional dysregulation. Over time, internalised dysregulation can have serious health effects such as low self-esteem. depression, lower immunity, tension and greater susceptibility to injury and relationship issues.

Emotional dysregulation can be distressing and disruptive to daily life and interfere with social, academic, and occupational functioning. Treatment for emotional dysregulation should first involve a psychological assessment and therapy. Therapy includes learning relaxation strategies to achieve an alpha state and better regulate emotions. It can also include behavioural therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, skills training, dialectical behaviour therapy, and emotion-focused therapy.


Emotional dysregulation can have multiple causes, including biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Here are some of the most common reasons why people may experience emotional dysregulation:


  1. Neurobiological factors: Some research suggests that emotional dysregulation may be related to differences in brain structure and function, including changes in the limbic system and prefrontal cortex. These changes can affect emotional processing, regulation, and expression.

  2. Early life experiences: Trauma, abuse, neglect, and other adverse childhood experiences can increase the risk of emotional dysregulation. These experiences can impact the development of the brain and the ability to regulate emotions, resulting in difficulties later in life.

  3. Genetic factors: Some studies suggest that genetic factors may play a role in developing emotional dysregulation. For example, certain genes may impact the function of neurotransmitters or hormones that are involved in emotional regulation.

  4. Environmental factors: Chronic stress, social isolation, and other environmental factors can increase the risk of emotional dysregulation. These factors can impact the brain's stress response system and make it more difficult to regulate emotions.

  5. Mental health conditions: Certain mental health conditions, such as borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, are associated with emotional dysregulation.

  6. Substance abuse: Substance abuse can lead to emotional dysregulation, particularly if it is chronic or severe.

Overall, emotional dysregulation is a complex issue with multiple potential causes. Understanding the underlying factors contributing to emotional dysregulation can help individuals and their healthcare providers develop effective treatment strategies. Treatment may include therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and other approaches to support emotional regulation and well-being.


Who Experiences Emotional Dysregulation?

Emotional dysregulation can affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It is often associated with certain mental health conditions, including:


  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD): Emotional dysregulation is a key feature of BPD, which is characterised by unstable moods, intense emotional reactions, and difficulty regulating emotions.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Trauma can lead to emotional dysregulation, particularly if the trauma was severe or prolonged.

  • Bipolar disorder: People with bipolar disorder may experience intense mood swings, which can include episodes of mania or depression, and have difficulty regulating their emotions.

  • Anxiety disorders: Anxiety can lead to emotional dysregulation, particularly if the anxiety is chronic or severe.

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): People with ADHD may have difficulty regulating their emotions, particularly if they also have impulsivity or hyperactivity symptoms.

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): Emotional dysregulation is common among people with ASD, particularly in social situations or exposure to changes in routine, noises, and textures that they perceive as overwhelming.

However, emotional dysregulation can also occur in people who do not have a specific mental health diagnosis. For example, it can be a normal part of adolescent development, and can also occur in response to stressful life events or chronic stress. Emotional dysregulation can also occur in people with medical conditions that affect the brain.


When Do People Experience Emotional Dysregulation?

Emotional dysregulation can occur in response to various triggers, including internal and external factors. Here are some examples of situations or experiences that may cause emotional dysregulation:


  1. Stressful Life Events: Significant life changes, such as losing a loved one, divorce, or financial difficulties, can trigger emotional dysregulation.

  2. Trauma: Traumatic experiences, such as physical or sexual abuse, can lead to emotional dysregulation, particularly if the trauma is severe or prolonged.

  3. Social Situations: Some people may experience emotional dysregulation in social situations, such as public speaking or social events.

  4. Chronic Stress: Chronic stress can impact the body's stress response system and lead to emotional dysregulation.

  5. Mental Health Conditions: Certain mental health conditions, such as borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, are associated with emotional dysregulation.

  6. Substance Abuse: Substance abuse can lead to emotional dysregulation, particularly if it is chronic or severe.

  7. Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can impact emotional regulation and lead to dysregulation.

  8. Mood Disorders: People with depression and anxiety can experience significant fluctuations in mood.

  9. Neurological Factors: Traumatic brain injury, dementia and other neurological conditions can lead to emotional dysregulation.

Overall, emotional dysregulation can occur in response to a variety of triggers, and it can also be a chronic and ongoing issue for some individuals. Understanding the underlying factors contributing to emotional dysregulation can help individuals and their healthcare providers develop effective treatment strategies to manage dysregulation and promote well-being.


How Does Emotional Dysregulation Affect Us?

Emotional dysregulation can significantly impact a person's life, affecting their behaviour, relationships, and overall quality of life. Here are some common ways in which emotional dysregulation can affect us:


  1. Intense and unpredictable emotions: People with emotional dysregulation may experience intense emotional reactions that are out of proportion to the situation, and they may have difficulty predicting when emotions will arise or how intense they will be. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and out of control.

  2. Difficulty managing stress: People with emotional dysregulation may have difficulty coping with stressful situations or managing stress in a healthy way. This can result in increased anxiety, panic attacks, or depression.

  3. Problems with relationships: Emotional dysregulation can cause problems in personal and professional relationships, as people may have difficulty regulating their emotional responses, leading to conflict, misinterpretation, and misunderstandings.

  4. Impulsivity: People with emotional dysregulation may be more prone to impulsive behaviour, such as substance abuse, risky sex behaviour, or self-harm. They may also have difficulty controlling their urges and impulses, leading to negative consequences.

  5. Low self-esteem: People with emotional dysregulation may struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, and self-blame, which can lead to low self-esteem and a negative self-image.

Overall, emotional dysregulation can significantly impact a person's mental health, well-being, and daily functioning. Treatment for emotional dysregulation often involves a combination of medication and behavioural therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, and emotion-focused therapy, to help individuals learn healthy coping strategies and develop better emotional regulation skills.


What Area of the Brain is Responsible for Regulating Emotion?

The regulation of emotion involves multiple brain regions and networks. However, the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus are three key regions that are involved in emotional regulation:


  1. Prefrontal cortex: The prefrontal cortex is located at the front of the brain, and it plays a crucial role in regulating emotion, impulse control, and decision-making. Specifically, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex processes emotional information and integrates it with cognitive and behavioural responses.

  2. Amygdala: The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep within the brain's temporal lobe. It plays a critical role in the processing and regulation of emotions, particularly fear and anxiety.

  3. Hippocampus: The hippocampus is a brain region involved in memory formation and retrieval. It also regulates emotional responses, particularly in response to stressful or traumatic experiences.

Emotional regulation is a complex process involving multiple brain regions and networks. These regions work together to process and regulate emotional responses, and disruptions in these regions can lead to emotional dysregulation. Understanding the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of emotional regulation can help inform effective treatments for emotional dysregulation and related mental health conditions.


How Can a Psychologist Help with Emotional Regulation?

Psychologists can play a crucial role in helping individuals develop strategies to regulate their emotions effectively. Here are some ways that psychologists can help with emotional regulation:


  • Assessment: Firstly, a psychologist will conduct a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment to understand your situation and identify the likely underlying triggers and causes for your dysregulation.

  • Psychoeducation: Psychologists can provide education about emotions and how they are regulated. We can help you understand how your emotions work, identify triggers that lead to dysregulation, and develop strategies to manage emotional responses.

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to emotional dysregulation. CBT can help individuals develop coping strategies to manage emotional triggers and learn new ways of thinking and behaving that promote emotional regulation.

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): is a type of therapy that was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder. It teaches individuals specific emotional management skills, including mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) emphasises the acceptance of difficult emotions and the development of psychological flexibility. ACT can help individuals learn to accept and regulate their emotions healthily rather than trying to avoid or suppress them.

  • Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Mindfulness-based interventions, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), can help individuals learn to be more present in the moment and develop non-judgmental awareness of their emotions. Mindfulness practices can promote emotional regulation by helping individuals become more aware of their emotional experiences and develop skills to manage them effectively.

Psychologists can play a critical role in helping individuals develop effective strategies to regulate their emotions. Psychologists can help individuals improve their emotional well-being and lead more fulfilling lives by providing education, teaching skills, and promoting awareness.


Find a Psychologist

Professional support is available if you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty. Contact iflow Psychology today at 02 6061 1144 to schedule an appointment.


Flexible Counseling Options

iflow Psychology offers in-person, telehealth, and telephone counselling services.


As registered psychologists, we provide compassionate support tailored to your needs. Take the first step in your journey towards well-being.


Medicare Rebates and Referrals

You may be eligible for Medicare rebates with a doctor's referral and a Mental Health Plan. Receive quality care while maximising your healthcare benefits. Let us be part of your path to healing.


Contact Us

Complete our simple enquiry form, and our friendly admin team will contact you during office hours. We are here to answer any questions and assist you in scheduling an appointment.

Location Details

Visit iflow Psychology in Leichhardt, Inner West Sydney, NSW, Australia, for in-person consultations. We also provide convenient telehealth services, ensuring accessibility no matter your location.


Disclaimer

The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Prior to making any decisions, we recommend consulting your treating doctor, health professionals, and legal representatives. This is particularly important if you have health concerns, existing mental health or medical conditions, or if you feel you are not coping.


(c) 2023 Dean Harrison

Related Posts

See All

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page