Do you feel like you sometimes lose your temper, start crying, or behave in a way other people think is an overreaction? Maybe you are even surprised by the strength of your emotional responses at times.
Different situations may trigger these responses. Often, they occur in response to relational circumstances. Perhaps your partner says something that unintentionally hurts you, and you find your eyes filled with hot tears and your lower lip quivering with emotion. And this sort of situation isn’t uncommon in your life.
Behavior such as this can be a symptom of emotional dysregulation.
What Is Emotional Dysregulation?
The example described above gives a good introduction of what emotional dysregulation is. People who experience it live with tremendous emotional reactions. Of course, lots of people have big emotions. Many people argue, cry, and get angry with partners or loved ones.
But emotional dysregulation moves beyond what is considered “normal” interpersonal conflicts. A person living with emotional dysregulation can have their entire life disrupted as a result of its effect. Rather than being able to navigate upsetting thoughts or emotional triggers, they become trapped by their reactions.
Emotional dysregulation exists in the complex interactions between the emotions, mind, and body.
Causes of Emotional Dysregulation
Humans form their emotional foundations early in life. Babies and children rely on stable, caring, nurturing feedback from their caregivers. Emotional struggles often result when neglect, abuse, or manipulative parents interrupts this process.
Trauma and abuse from other people or situations likewise contribute to emotional dysregulation. Unfortunately, those with emotional dysregulation are often misdiagnosed as having other mental illnesses. If you’ve experienced emotional dysregulation, you’re probably looking for ways to find healing.
EMDR and Brainspotting
EMDR (eye movement desensitizing and reprocessing) and Brainspotting are scientifically proven therapies. Mental health professionals use these methods to help people process trauma and anxiety. Brainspotting grew out of EMDR.
Both approaches help people address and heal their emotional responses to triggers by activating specific areas of the brain. They don’t rely upon excessive discussion or analysis of one’s past emotional history or trauma. They are neuropsychological approaches that open pathways to emotional healing.
How EMDR and Brainspotting Help Emotional Dysregulation
As we’ve discussed, emotional dysregulation often has its roots in trauma and interruption of healthy emotional attachment as a child. Our emotions, cognitions, and physical body are intricately interconnected, much more so than we often realize. What happens at one level will create a ripple effect throughout the entire system.
When a child doesn’t experience the opportunity to form healthy attachments with caregivers, the body carries this emotional pain. Likewise, the body traps traumatic events such as rape, natural disasters, abuse, and more. This outcome is because our bodies are wired to protect us from danger. We can feel stuck in fight, flight, or freeze mode, which keeps our emotions and bodies on high alert. When this autonomic nervous reaction continues to function hypervigilantly, situations and circumstances trigger us easily.
EMDR and Brainspotting can help break this frozen emotional state. As the therapist guides a client through the exercises that process previous trauma, the entire person experiences healing. This process releases anxiety and fear, resulting in a state of calm and peace as therapy proceeds. They are wonderful tools for treating emotional dysregulation.
If you suspect you’re living with emotional dysregulation, I want you to know that healing is possible. I’ve worked with many people similar to you. Through the therapeutic relationship and therapies such as EMDR and Brainspotting, they’ve established a more stable, manageable emotional life. If you’re ready to learn more, please visit my page about Brainspotting or contact my office today.