Childhood Trauma Leading To Emotional Dysregulation In Adulthood :
If we have suffered significant and chronic childhood trauma we are at increased risk, as adults, of suffering from ’emotional dysregulation.’ Indeed, if our traumatic early experiences were so severe that we have gone on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) then this is especially likely to be the case (emotional deregulation is a classic feature and hallmark of BPD and one of the nine key symptoms of the disorder listed in the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, or, in its abbreviated form, DSM V).
What Is Meant By The Term ‘Emotional Dysregulation?’ :
Other terms for ’emotional dysregulation’ include ’emotional instability’, ‘affective volatility’ and high ’emotional lability.’ In other words, an individual who is emotionally deregulated is prone to experiencing extreme and rapid fluctuations in his/her moods and feelings.
Recent Research Into Emotional Dysregulation In BPD Sufferers :
Recent research into BPD suggests that, in the case of individuals afflicted by this disorder, not all emotions are involved in these dramatic fluctuations of mood. The main emotions that ARE involved have been found to be :
To elaborate a little further, anger appears to be the emotion most strongly associated with BPD and severe swings between feelings of depression and anxiety have been found to be particularly prevalent in those suffering from the condition.
Devastating Effects On Life :
Anyone who suffers from, or has suffered from, significant emotional deregulation knows the devastating effects the condition can have on various aspects of one’s life : it can ruin friendships, family relationships and intimate relationships ; it can also cause problems at work, including job loss ; it may even lead to legal difficulties (and these examples by no means constitute an exhaustive list).
If, then, we suffer from emotional dysregulation, it is vital, if we wish to reclaim, and establish some semblance of control over, our lives, that we reduce our level of emotional deregulation and, thus, become more emotionally stable.
How Can We Reduce Our Level Of Emotional Dysregulation And Regain Some Control Over How We Feel And Behave?
A study carried out by Bailey and Chambers (2016) found that by undergoing an eight week course in mindfulness meditation, it was possible for an individual to increase the volume of the dentate gyrus, an area of the hippocampus (the hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for emotional regulation) by 22.8% – this is possible because of a quality of the brain known as neuroplasticity.
And other research has found that mindfulness meditation can also have beneficial effects upon other brain regions and their associated functions. For example, a review of research, carried out by the researchers Tang, Holzel and Posner (2015) and published in a journal called Nature Reviews Neuroscience focused upon 21 studies on the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain. Findings of the studies include :
Mindfulness meditation can increase the size of the following brain regions :
- anterior cingulate cortex and striatum (involved in attention control)
- multiple prefrontal regions and limbic region (involved in emotional regulation)
- insula, medial prefrontal cortex (involved in self-awareness)
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).