Emotional Dysregulation Treatment

Emotional Dysregulation

The ability to regulate our emotions is essential to navigating our daily lives. When a child, adolescent, or young adult experiences emotional dysregulation – meaning they have difficulty managing or regulating their emotions – it can affect all areas of their life. Extremes of emotion can take over, and have a negative impact on academic achievement, family relationships, peer relationships, self-esteem, and overall wellbeing.

We work with our patients to rediscover balance, regain control, and get back to living.

Treatment for Emotional Dysregulation: Uncovering the Root Cause

Emotional dysregulation is not a disease or disorder: it’s a symptom common to many mental health and behavioral disorders. Here’s how mental health experts define emotional dysregulation:

“The inability to regulate the intensity and quality of emotions in order to generate an appropriate emotional response, handle excitability, mood instability, and emotional over-reactivity, and return to an emotional baseline.”

Emotions can have a negative or positive impact on our lives depending on the situation. Regulating them means being able to modulate the intensity of their expression based on an accurate perception of the situation. For people with emotional dysregulation, modulating emotions is extremely challenging. Their emotions take over and dominate their behavior. Returning to a calm baseline from any extreme is very difficult.

At BACA, We Work With Patients to Identify, Understand, and Manage Their Emotions, No Matter How Strong They Are or How Overwhelming They Feel

Emotional dysregulation can occur in the following mental health and behavioral disorders:

  • ADHD
  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Psychological trauma
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Non-suicidal self-injury
  • Eating disorders
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Substance use disorder
  • Developmental disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Gaming disorder

However, the presence of emotional dysregulation alone doesn’t mean an individual has a mental health or behavioral disorder, but studies show that close to 90 percent of people who display emotional dysregulation have an underlying mental health or behavioral disorder, such as AHDH, anxiety, or an autism spectrum disorder.

Types of Emotional Dysregulation

In children, adolescents, and young adults, emotional dysregulation appears in five overlapping dimensions:

1. Decreased overall emotional awareness:

  • Unaware of/out of touch with emotions

2. Increased emotional reactivity:

  • Extreme emotional responses to typical stimuli

3. Intense experience and expression of emotion:

  • Emotions feel overwhelming
  • Emotion-driven outbursts are common
  • Emotion-driven withdrawal is common

4. Emotional rigidity:

  • Freezing or dissociating when under stress or pressure

5. Cognitive function:

  • Problems with accurately processing information
  • Problems identifying false/incorrect beliefs/assumptions

Signs and Symptoms of Emotional Dysregulation

The signs and symptoms of emotional dysregulation overlap with several mental health and behavioral disorders.

In children, signs of emotional dysregulation may include:

  • Tantrums
  • Defiance
  • Difficulty following directions at home are in school
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Problems focusing and completing tasks

In adolescents and young adults, signs of emotional dysregulation may include:

  • Anger/frequent outbursts
  • Irritability
  • Disrupted relationships, cause by extreme reactions to common issues
  • Problems resolving conflict
  • Impaired school, work, and social function
  • Alcohol or substance use
  • Risky behavior related to sex, drugs, or riding/driving in cars
  • Binge eating
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidality

Treatment For Emotional Dysregulation at BACA: Uncovering the Root of the Problem, Tailoring Treatment to Address Individual Needs

Research shows the most effective treatment for emotional dysregulation in children, adolescents, and young adults follows a comprehensive, holistic, integrated treatment model. Depending on the outcome of a psychiatric assessment, treatment plans include a customized combination of individual therapy, group therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication if needed. BACA clinicians augment these traditional treatment approaches with complementary modalities including mindfulness, meditation, and expressive therapies.

Types of therapy at BACA:

  • Individual therapy
    • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
    • Motivational interviewing
    • Solution focused therapy
  • Group therapy:
    • Coping groups
    • Emotional processing groups
    • Healthy living
    • Family therapy
  • Complementary therapies:
    • Writing/journaling
    • Mindfulness: meditation, breathing
    • Drama therapy: role playing
  • Medication management/psychiatry

At BACA, our holistic, integrated, individualized treatment plans include most, but not all, of the following:

  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Education about depression and depression treatment
  • Lifestyle changes, including:
    • Healthy eating
    • Exercise
    • Mindfulness
  • Classes and workshops for family
  • Medication and psychiatry, if needed

At BACA, we take the time to learn about each patient and understand what works for them. We design a treatment plan the prioritizes individual treatment goals, leverages strengths, improves challenge areas, and gives each individual the greatest chance of managing their emotions and living the life they choose.