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Mood Disorders and Emotion Regulation

woman with mood disorderAt Mind and Wellness Counselling Services, we use Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to help enhance a person’s capabilities to self-regulate. We do this by teaching behavioral skills in areas such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. These skills help people develop effective ways to navigate situations that arise in everyday life and manage specific challenges.

Our quality of our life is often dependent on how stable our work and home environments are. There are many factors which contribute to this stability, one of them being our capacity to self-regulate our emotions and moods as we face life’s daily challenges.

Self-regulation can be defined in various ways. In the most basic sense, it involves controlling one's behavior, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals. More specifically, emotional self-regulation refers to the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses.

Conversely, the inability to self-regulate intense emotions and impulses is referred to emotional dysregulation.

Persons with a diagnosis of PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) can display emotional dysregulation characterized by excessive fear, anxiety, anger or sadness, reactions to a previous severe and often life-threatening traumatic events that are reinitiated.

Mood disorders, such as Bipolar Disorder and depression feature emotional dysregulation. With depression, mood fluctuations may be so severe as to hinder a person's ability to function in daily life. Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is less common than depression. Even so, it can be extremely disruptive to a person’s effective functioning.

Among the possible causes of mood swings is an imbalance in the brain chemicals associated with mood regulation, as in the case of bipolar disorder, and the hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle or menopause. In addition, mood swings may occur in men who abuse steroids (often called 'roid rage).

For more on DBT Therapy, please see Blog: What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?

For more on Borderline Personality Disorder, please see Blog: What is BPD?