Emotion Dysregulation

This page contains information about Emotion Dysregulation, including how it is diagnosed and treated, and Emotion Dysregulation support. You may find this helpful if you experience Emotion Dysregulation or are supporting a whānau member who does.



  • People with Emotion Dysregulation find it difficult to manage their emotions. 


  • Emotion Dysregulation can make it difficult to concentrate, solve problems or have stable relationships.


  • People with Emotion Dysregulation can often be misdiagnosed, making it important they receive proper psychiatric evaluation and diagnosis.


  • You can treat Emotion Dysregulation with therapies and medication. 



What is Emotion Dysregulation?

People with Emotion Dysregulation have difficulty managing their emotions and can be sensitive, quick to overreact and very slow to calm down. This is not their fault.  

Emotion Dysregulation is an essential part of a diagnosis called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  




What causes Emotion Dysregulation?


Emotion Dysregulation can be caused by:


  • Genetics


  • Environmental factors


  • Stress


Nothing that family members have done can cause Emotion Dysregulation, but family dynamics can contribute. 

Types and Symptoms


What are the symptoms of Emotion Dysregulation?


There are over 200 combinations of symptoms that make up Emotion Dysregulation. Some of these symptoms include:


  • Low self-esteem


  • Self-judgement


  • Impulsiveness


  • Anxiety about Emotion Dysregulation


  • Fears of abandonment


People experiencing Emotion Dysregulation can find it hard to think clearly and may numb their feelings with drugs, alcohol or self-harming. 


People with Emotion Dysregulation experience some or all of the following: 


  • Unstable and intense interpersonal relationships


  • Identity disturbance 


  • Intense anger and/or difficulty controlling anger


  • Recurrent suicidal behaviour or self-harm


  • Reactive feelings and moods


  • Chronic feelings of emptiness


  • Experiencing minor problems as major crises


  • ‘Black and white’ thinking – switching between love and hate in relationships



You may be feeling: 


  • “I am walking on eggshells”


  • “I caused this”


  • Powerless and at your wits’ end


Guilt and grief are a common response when dealing with a loved one experiencing Emotion Dysregulation, especially when it is your child. 

You may feel powerless, especially if suicide threats or actions make you feel you will lose your loved one. 




How is Emotion Dysregulation different from bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders? 


Bipolar disorder, PTSD and eating disorders can often look like Emotion Dysregulation (and vice versa), or have aspects of Emotion Dysregulation present. 

However, Emotion Dysregulation can exist without other mental health disorders being present. 

People with Emotion Dysregulation can often be misdiagnosed, making it important they receive proper psychiatric evaluation and diagnosis. 

This helps ensure they receive the right medications, therapy and Emotion Dysregulation support. 


Treatment and Self-Care


How is Emotion Dysregulation treated?

Treatments include:


  • Dialectical behaviour therapy


  • Mentalisation-based therapy


  • Medication


Research has shown a loving and supportive family results in better outcomes for people experiencing Emotion Dysregulation. 


Whānau Emotion Dysregulation Support


How can I support someone who has Emotion Dysregulation?


The first step when offering Emotion Dysregulation support is realising this mental health condition can show up in different ways. 

It is best to seek professional guidance and work with your family member to understand how their Emotion Dysregulation shows up.




  • You don’t have to have all the answers. 


  • Just be present and listen.


  • Offer Emotion Dysregulation support, but don’t take over.


  • Take care of yourself too.


Our self-care and mindfulness guides contain ways to help improve your wellbeing whilst supporting a loved one experiencing mental health challenges.

How Yellow Brick Road can help you


Every day we set out to ensure whānau feel listened to, supported, equipped and ultimately confident to overcome the challenges they face.

If you are concerned about a whānau member, our support workers can help you by providing Emotion Dysregulation support, information, education and  advocacy services, such as:


  • Listening to your concerns and questions


  • Helping you create an action plan that supports you and your loved one throughout their recovery journey


  • Providing books, articles and information about locally available services


  • Support groups 


Our services are free and confidential. Contact us today to find out more.

Useful Emotion Dysregulation websites

Mental Health UK

This website contains Emotion Dysregulation resources to help you understand this mental health condition, including:

Who can I contact for counselling image

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