What is Emotional Dysregulation?

Emotional dysregulation is a term that refers to difficulties regulating emotions. These extreme emotional displays manifest in a few different
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Emotional dysregulation is a term that refers to difficulties regulating emotions. These extreme emotional displays manifest in a few different ways. Oftentimes they are severe enough to impact relationships, work, school, and even daily life. Understanding emotional dysregulation is the first step to determining how best to adapt to and overcome it.

Explaining Emotional Dysregulation

Those with emotional dysregulation experience responses that fall outside the scope of expected emotional reactions. This manifests in things like mood swings, outbursts of anger, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, self-harm, and other damaging actions.

Some symptoms of emotional dysregulation include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • Consuming feelings of shame
  • Overwhelming feelings of anger
  • Excessive substance use or abuse
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Obsessive perfectionism
  • Difficulties in interpersonal relationships
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal ideation or attempts

Emotional dysregulation left untreated often interferes with a person’s ability to live a useful, effective, fulfilling life.

Who Experiences Emotional Dysregulation?

Emotional dysregulation isn’t exactly a condition on its own. Some clinicians may diagnose an individual with emotional dysregulation in certain circumstances—however, many people struggling with mental illness experience an impaired ability to properly manage and express emotion. More often than not, it is a symptom of a greater mental health or personality disorder.1

People develop emotional dysregulation for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Early childhood trauma2
  • Neglect during childhood
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Extreme personal invalidation

Emotional dysregulation is a common symptom among people experiencing the following conditions:

How Do You Treat Emotional Dysregulation?

Emotional dysregulation and its related conditions can cause an extreme amount of distress. Thankfully, many types of treatment are available for both the symptom and the disorders that cause it. Those seeking treatment have different experiences, so effective treatment for emotional dysregulation involves an individualized, multifaceted approach.

Some of the most commonly used treatments for emotional dysregulation are counseling and antidepressant medication. Best used in conjunction with one another, antidepressant medications offer psychological relief so counseling modalities can be as effective as possible. Both of these tools address the underlying conditions causing emotional dysregulation.

Along with medication and counseling, diet and exercise are two important tools for managing emotional dysregulation. Nutrition and movement play critical roles in mental health and overall physical wellness. Using these tools alongside a clinical treatment program can produce very positive results.

Treating Emotional Dysregulation at Clearview Treatment Centers

Clearview Treatment Programs offers a variety of treatment approaches for individuals experiencing emotional dysregulation. We provide an individualized, comprehensive approach to care on a residential and outpatient basis, depending on each person’s needs.

If you or a loved one are struggling with emotional dysregulation or another mental health disorder, you shouldn’t have to do it alone. We’ll help you understand your options here at Clearview Treatment Programs and determine which approach best suits your needs. Please reach out to us at 866-339-3544 to speak with an admissions specialist today!



  1. Medicina. (2021). Comparison of Emotional Dysregulation Features in Cyclothymia and Adult ADHD.
  2. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. (2021). Emotional Dysregulation: A Trauma-Informed Approach.
  3. Journal of Psychiatric Research. (2015). PTSD, emotion dysregulation, and dissociative symptoms.


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