Emotional Dysregulation: Understanding Signs And Ways To Deal

Emotions are a fundamental part of being human. They influence our perceptions and impact the many ways in which we interact with the world. But what happens when these emotions start getting out of your hand, controlling and obstructing your daily lives? 

Losing control of your emotions or emotional dysregulation is a difficult and challenging experience for most people. It is defined by uncharacteristically intense and unpredictable bouts of emotions that are often beyond the person’s control. It can manifest in multiple disturbing forms – from volatile and eruptive anger to chronic feelings of hatred or hopelessness.

Feeling a loss of control over your emotions is deeply unhealthy. It can often set you on a toxic cycle of shame, guilt, and self-hatred and put you on the opposite side of a never-ending conflict with yourself and those around you. These conflicts can often get disruptive and significantly impact the most cherished relationships in your life. 

In short, living with emotional dysregulation is hard. But the good part is that there is a lot you can do to alleviate your discomfort and regain control of your emotions and life. To help you get started with this process, let us dive deeper into condition, its signs, and the ways to deal with it.

Emotional Dysregulation

What Is Emotional Dysregulation?

Emotional dysregulation is a term used in psychology that stands for exactly what it sounds like – having difficulty regulating the intensity of your emotions. It refers to a poorly controlled emotional response that falls out of the range of acceptable emotional responses. 

Simply put, when people with emotional dysregulation are angry, it is difficult to self-soothe and reduce their anger levels from 10 to six. It means if they are sad, it can take every ounce of their energy to snap out of that mood. This way, such individuals often spiral into negative and harmful thoughts. These tendencies can often lead to behavioral changes that significantly impact a person’s regular life and relationships. 

Read more: Release Pent-Up Emotions – 3 Emotional Catharsis Techniques

Signs Of Emotional Dysregulation 

The most common signs that point toward emotional dysregulation include the following:

1. Avoiding difficult feelings.

When you constantly have painful and overwhelming emotions, you try to dissociate from them. This dissociation tends to stray you from your emotions, thereby restricting your ability to understand and figure out what they mean. 

2. Self-destructive behavior.

When you struggle with emotional dysregulation, you might often engage in self-destructive behavior to feel better. These behaviors are often detrimental to yourself and your relationships with others. 

3. Being unable to resolve conflicts.

People with emotional dysregulation often have issues resolving conflicts in their life. They have a tough time having constructive arguments and discussions. They find it hard to address the problems at hand and focus on solutions. 

4. Engaging in unhealthy actions. 

Emotional dysregulation can often prompt unhealthy actions to cope with their feelings. These include substance abuse, gambling, risky activities, etc.


As per a study by Frank W. Paulus, these are the possible causes behind emotional dysregulation:

  • genetic issues,
  • traumatic life events,
  • traumatic brain injury,
  • emotional neglect and other forms of adverse childhood experiences,
  • mental health issues like bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, and
  • extremely stressful situations. 

Ways To Deal

1. Understand your triggers.

The first step toward dealing with emotional dysregulation involves identifying and understanding the things and situations that trigger you. This way, if you are heading into a situation that often triggers you try to plan in advance. For instance, if grocery shopping stresses you out due to the presence of too many people around, try different ways, like shopping with a friend or using online services.

2. Let your emotions out.

One of the most important coping strategies for dealing with emotional dysregulation is letting your emotions out. Try activities like journaling, art therapy, and music. Most importantly, don’t try to play by the rules when you try any of these. The only rule should be letting out your feelings. 

3. Get professional help. 

Since emotional dysregulation can be closely associated with mental disorders, it is important to get professional help to deal with it properly. Some forms of therapies that can be useful for the condition include:

  • emotional dysregulation therapy,
  • dialectical behavioral therapy,
  • psychodynamic therapy.

Read more: Best Online Therapy Platforms


Emotional dysregulation is a state where one is unable to control their emotions and often overreacts in seemingly normal situations. Multiple reasons can contribute to this, including genetic causes and mental disorders. Finding proper and timely help can allow individuals to regain control of their emotions and find better balance and stability in their lives.

Engaging in emotionally healthy habits can prevent the chances of having to deal with emotional exhaustion and dysregulation. To learn about emotional well-being habits, click here.

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