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Formerly St. Louis Center for Family Development

Everyone has their own ways of expressing emotions and reacting to life circumstances. If your emotions feel out of control or you have a hard time coming down from those emotions, then those big feelings could indicate that you are suffering from emotional dysregulation or Borderline Personality Disorder.

Therapy Can Help Regulate Intense Emotions

Emotional dysregulation is when a person experiences intense emotions they are unable to manage in constructive ways. This often results in impulsive or emotional actions that cause pain and problems to the person struggling as well as their family, friends and peers.

A person with emotion dysregulation might also experience an intensity of emotions that other people believe don’t match situations. This causes them to be regularly told that what they are feeling is wrong.

“You’re overreacting”

“You’re too sensitive”

“Stop being so dramatic”

If you hear those comments from loved ones or find yourself struggling to manage your emotions, know that what you are feeling is very real. While you may not trust those feelings, a therapist can help you take back control of your life, teach you skills to regulate your emotions and transform your relationships.

Signs and Symptoms of Emotional Dysregulation

While many people will struggle with emotions at some point in life, if you consistently experience more than one of the symptoms below, you may be suffering from emotional dysregulation.

  • You experience extreme mood swings, including outbursts of anger, intense anxiety and crying fits.
  • You’re constantly afraid the people you care about will abandon you, and you have extreme reactions to innocuous events, such as a loved one arriving home late from work or being separated for a vacation.
  • You have difficulty trusting others and often feel suspicious or paranoid about other people’s motives.
  • You feel “empty,” emotionally numb or isolated, and feeling empathy for others is difficult.
  • You crave closeness to other people but your intense emotions often push them away.
  • Relationships with family and friends are continually strained, or you have a history of intense but unstable romantic relationships.
  • You avoid conflict or, conversely, create it.
  • Your sense of self is constantly shifting — sometimes you love who you are and other times you feel self-loathing.
  • You have thought about or attempted to harm yourself.
  • You engage in self-destructive, risky behavior, such as substance abuse, unsafe sex, gambling, dangerous driving or over-spending. You may also have an eating disorder.
  • You don’t have a clear idea of what you want in life and frequently change jobs, friends or goals.
  • You may experience dissociation, or a feeling of being outside your own body.

Emotional dysregulation may be a result of a biological wiring for intense emotions, experiences of trauma, and/or Borderline Personality Disorder. There are many potential explanations of why you may be having trouble with emotions; therefore, it is important that you collaborate with a qualified mental health professional to assess your specific situation. Also, you may benefit from help to develop new skills for managing the emotions you experience.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a type of personality disorder marked by a continuous pattern of mood swings and intense emotions, including extreme episodes of depression, anxiety or anger. These emotional struggles result in strained relationships, a distorted self-image and impulsive behaviors.

While the exact cause of BPD is unknown, we do know that it is highly associated with exposure to traumatic experiences; approximately 80% of individuals diagnosed with BPD have had at least one trauma exposure. We also know that if you’re suffering from BPD, there is hope and treatment for it – Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). 

Young girl wearing street style clothes having fun listening to the music through an old portable cassette player

Treatment for Children and Teens with Emotional Intensity

Child and young adults who display extreme emotional or behavioral challenges may need professional help that extends beyond traditional outpatient therapy. Sparlin@Home is an intensive, in-home therapy program designed to stabilize your child’s emotional, behavioral and mental health crises and prevent the need for hospitalization or out-of-home placement. Our program incorporates strategies from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and is intended to help parents and caregivers address behaviors in children and young adults ages 5 to 25 years old.

Gain Control of Your Intense Emotions

Here at Sparlin Mental Health (Sparlin), formerly known as St. Louis Center for Family Development, our therapists help people in the St. Louis area overcome intense emotions and manage BPD through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), an intensive therapy model that was first designed specifically to treat people suffering from BPD. It incorporates individual sessions with a therapist and meetings with a skills group in a program to teach participants how to become more aware of their emotions.

With the help of a caring, compassionate therapist dedicated to your recovery journey, you can:

  • Learn to manage uncomfortable or painful emotions and tolerate distress
  • Reduce impulsive behavior by recognizing feelings instead of acting on them
  • Learn healthy ways to manage strong emotions, such as with mindfulness
  • Practice improving relationships by recognizing the feelings of others

From your very first session, you and your therapist will collaborate to ensure you’re addressing the things that you want to change in your life so that you can build the life you want. Our experienced therapists and mental health professionals are trained, and regularly re-trained, in the most up-to-date therapies that are proven to work for people struggling with emotional intensity. Contact our office to learn more about your therapy options.