How we act and react to the world around us requires constant adjustment – this is called emotional regulation. People who are emotionally regulated are to a point predictable, or their reactions to normal situations fall into what most would consider acceptable. Most teenagers respond within an expected range of reactions, such as reactions of happiness, sadness, or anxiety when coping with stress and peer pressure. There are some teenagers who struggle, or do not respond within a normal range of emotions but instead exhibit poor or unconventional responses and behavior to the world and to the people around them. Those poor or unconventional responses lead to a disorder that is called emotional dysregulation. Emotional dysregulation is found in approximately 3% of American people, including teenagers.

What is Emotional Regulation or Dysregulation in Teens?

Emotional Regulation is one of the most important parts of life functioning. Emotional regulation allows teens to respond to a variety of situations with the appropriate emotions, cognitive responses, behavioral responses and biological functions. Living life normally and reacting to situations within an understood or expected range of behaviors is expected and considered normal.

Emotional dysregulation is very much the opposite of Emotional Regulation, where an inappropriate or exaggerated response to a normal situation may occur. With a teen who has emotionally dysregulated a simple disagreement or social problem could become a situation where the person lashes out, over-responds or behaves in an irrational or irregular manner (instead of exhibiting a normal response). With emotional dysregulation, coping with even the smallest, most simple or normal day to day problems in life can be extremely challenging.

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Common signs of emotional dysregulation in early childhood and teens may include isolation; throwing objects screaming; lack of eye contact; refusing to speak; rocking; running away; crying; disassociating; high levels of anxiety; or inability to be flexible. However, there are other symptoms that may be demonstrated and each incident of emotional dysregulation can be vastly different from the next.

Other symptoms of emotional dysregulation can include:

  • Intense or extreme emotions
  • Struggles to calm down when upset
  • Difficulty decreasing negative emotions
  • Difficulty understanding emotional experiences
  • Aggressive when dealing with negative emotions
  • Struggles to identify emotional cues
  • Unable to recognize his/her own emotions
  • Focuses on the negative
  • Impulsive or irrational behavior

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In cases of emotional dysregulation a clear and correct diagnosis is important. The diagnosis is fundamental in prescribing the correct course of treatment that will follow. Getting to the root cause of the disorder rather than treating the symptoms is important. Curing the disorder with medication is not possible. While medication can aid in reducing or combating some of the symptoms of emotional dysregulation, it does not address the root cause of the disorder. A course of therapy that may also include medication is the conventional course of treatment that has proven to be most successful in teenagers.

Beachside Treatment Center and Emotional Dysregulation

Beachside Treatment Center has a qualified and experienced team of professionals to properly and fully evaluate and treat teenagers who have been diagnosed with emotional dysregulation. As a specialist mental health facility, Beachside Treatment Center provides individualized programs, delivered in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, designed specifically for teenagers. The Beachside Treatment Center team treats each case individually to ensure the very best and long lasting results.

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