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BPD and Emotional Dysregulation: What’s the Connection?

Lido Wellness Center Blog

BPD and Emotional Dysregulation: What’s the Connection?

May 29, 2023

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a relatively common mental health condition that produces symptoms of impulsive behavior, cognitive distortions, and intense relationships with others. In addition to these symptoms, people with BPD also struggle with emotional dysregulation, which makes it challenging to manage their emotions and feelings when exposed to particular triggers.

Emotional dysregulation refers to a person’s inability to manage or control their emotional responses to different situations. This might involve experiencing extreme fluctuations in mood or having emotional reactions that are disproportionate to the situation at hand. Emotional dysregulation can be characterized by frequent, intense mood swings, impulsivity triggered by emotional events, and difficulty calming down when upset.

BPD and Dysregulation: What’s the Difference?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and emotional dysregulation are different in that BPD is a specific, diagnosable psychiatric disorder, while emotional dysregulation is a symptom or a psychological phenomenon that can occur in various mental health conditions, including but not limited to BPD.

People with BPD often have a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affect (emotions), along with marked impulsivity.

Emotional dysregulation – the inability to manage or control emotional responses – is one key characteristics of BPD. However, BPD also involves other symptoms, such as fear of abandonment, identity disturbances, chronic feelings of emptiness, and recurrent suicidal behavior or self-harming.

Emotional dysregulation is not a diagnosis in itself. It is an issue that can be present in many different mental health conditions, including BPD, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), among others.

It’s essentially a difficulty in managing, processing, or responding to emotional experiences.

Causes of Emotional Dysregulation?

Childhood Trauma

Unfortunately, childhood trauma often leads to psychological impairments in adulthood, such as emotional dysregulation. This issue is generally because this early-stage trauma can often interrupt our development of self-control and emotional liability, making it more challenging to control our emotions in the future.

Insecure Attachment Styles

Insecure attachment is a behavioral pattern defined by distrust in our relationships. Today, leading research has shown that those struggling with insecure attachment styles often struggle to create healthy interpersonal relationships with others, due to an inability to control their emotions.

Enhancing the Difficulties

Here’s why this combination of BPD and emotional dysregulation is particularly challenging:

  1. Persistent and intense emotions: People with BPD often experience emotional dysregulation, which means their emotions are more intense, fluctuate more frequently, and last longer than those without BPD. This can make it extremely difficult for them to manage daily life and maintain stable relationships.
  2. Impulsive behaviors: The emotional instability can lead to impulsive, risky behaviors. Substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating, or self-harm as a way to cope with overwhelming emotions can all become a problem for a person with BPD and emotional dysregulation.
  3. Interpersonal relationships: The combination of BPD and emotional dysregulation can lead to a pattern of unstable relationships. Intense emotions can trigger fear of abandonment or rejection, leading to conflict and frequent changes in feelings towards others.
  4. Mental health risks: This combination significantly increases the risk of other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and substance use disorders. It also increases the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
  5. Challenges in treatment: BPD and emotional dysregulation can make it difficult for people to engage in and benefit from treatment. They may have a hard time trusting therapists, maintaining the motivation for treatment, or applying the coping skills they learn in therapy.
  6. Chronic feelings of emptiness: Individuals with BPD often report chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom, which can be a source of great distress.

Treatment for BPD and Emotional Dysregulation

While living life with emotional dysregulation can be tremendously challenging, you must understand that there will always be a glimmer of hope if you are willing to take it. Today, treatments, such as Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), are tremendously effective at treating several conditions, including BPD and emotional dysregulation.

This modern treatment is a form of talk therapy that practitioners have specially adapted for individuals currently struggling with intense and powerful emotions. One of the core ways that DBT stands out is that it places its core focus on helping people understand the reality of their feelings and behaviors. After this period of acceptance, they can work with their therapist to manage these uncontrollable emotions, leading to a better quality of life.

With DBT, you no longer have to live a life where you take a back seat to emotional outbursts, aggression, or avoidance. Instead, you can learn to understand your triggers and work on developing new skills that make it much easier to regulate your emotions.

Getting Help for BPD in Newport Beach

If you want to talk to someone about your options for IOP treatment in Newport Beach for BPD or to get guidance for yourself or a loved one, call Lido Wellness today. Our experienced team is ready to help you understand your options and give you the help you need for the next step in your journey.

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