Deutsch: Emotionale Dysregulation / Español: Desregulación emocional / Português: Desregulação emocional / Français: Dysrégulation émotionnelle / Italiano: Disregolazione emotiva

Emotional dysregulation refers to an individual's inability to manage and respond to emotional experiences in a controlled, appropriate manner. In the context of psychology, it is characterized by intense emotional reactions that are disproportionate to the situation and difficulties in calming down after an emotional arousal. Emotional dysregulation can significantly impact an individual's relationships, daily functioning, and overall well-being.


Emotional dysregulation is often seen in various mental health disorders, including borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and mood disorders. It involves challenges with modulating the intensity and duration of emotional responses, leading to rapid and often extreme shifts in mood. Individuals experiencing emotional dysregulation may struggle with anger management, experience sudden episodes of sadness, anxiety, or panic, and may have difficulty returning to a baseline emotional state.

Application Areas

Understanding and addressing emotional dysregulation is crucial in several psychological treatment and intervention contexts:

  • Clinical Psychology: Assessment and treatment of underlying mental health conditions associated with emotional dysregulation.
  • Counseling Psychology: Providing support and strategies for individuals to understand and manage their emotional responses.
  • Developmental Psychology: Exploring how emotional regulation develops across the lifespan and identifying early interventions for children showing signs of dysregulation.

Well-Known Examples

Effective approaches to managing emotional dysregulation include:

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Originally developed for borderline personality disorder, DBT focuses on teaching skills to tolerate distress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns that contribute to emotional dysregulation.
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): Incorporates mindfulness practices to enhance emotional awareness and regulation.

Treatment and Risks

Treatment for emotional dysregulation typically involves psychotherapy, and in some cases, medication may be used to manage symptoms associated with underlying mental health conditions. Without appropriate treatment, emotional dysregulation can lead to significant impairments in social, occupational, and academic functioning. It can also increase the risk of developing co-occurring mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

Similar Terms or Synonyms

Terms related to emotional dysregulation include affective dysregulation, which specifically refers to the regulation of mood, and impulse control issues, which can be a component of emotional dysregulation.


Emotional dysregulation is a significant psychological issue that involves difficulties in managing and responding to emotional stimuli in a healthy way. It is a feature of several mental health disorders and can impair an individual's quality of life and functioning. Effective treatment, such as DBT, CBT, and mindfulness practices, can help individuals develop skills to better regulate their emotions, leading to improved outcomes and well-being.