What We Treat
“Why do I have so much trouble controlling
my emotions and my actions?”
Some people struggle to control their emotions, which can often feel like they come out of nowhere, hit like a ton of bricks and may lead to impulsive or erratic behavior. These emotions go beyond the occasional lows or minor annoyances that many people experience. Rather, they are intense negative feelings that come on frequently and last for long periods of time. In clinical terms, this inability to manage emotions is called emotion dysregulation, and it is a source of torment and frustration for anyone who suffers from it, often interfering with personal and professional relationships.
The Root Causes
The interaction between biological and environmental factors—a concept known as the BioSocial theory—can cause emotion dysregulation.
The “bio” part of this theory asserts that some people are born more sensitive to emotional stimuli than others. They’re genetically predisposed to feeling emotions more strongly or picking up on subtle emotions that others do not detect. This high level of sensitivity can quickly lead to intense moods and emotional overload, often coming out of nowhere and hitting like a ton of bricks. The inability to regulate these emotions can lead to impulsive behavior and strong reactions to emotional triggers.
The Social Component
The “social” component of the model relates to a person’s environment, including our relationships as well as our general society, which often encourages us to show some emotions and hide others. The feedback from the environment can be invalidating at times, signaling that our emotions are wrong, that we are overreacting, or that we “should” feel differently and push away the negative thoughts. Additionally, our environment can reinforce our out-of-control emotions if people give in to them. We come to learn that they are effective in getting what we want.
If you or a loved one are struggling with some of the above challenges related to emotion regulation, we are here to help. The gold standard treatment for people experiencing pervasive emotion dysregulation is Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT. DBT is a therapy that focuses on finding a middle path, or dialectic, between acceptance and change. Here are some tell-tale signs you may be experiencing emotional dysregulation: