Emotional Dysregulation Disorder in Teens


A Note From The Santa Monica Teen & Family Therapist

“Is your teen struggling with emotional dysregulation? They may need support in learning to cope with their very intense feelings.” – Sandra

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), also known as Emotional Dysregulation Disorder, is a diagnosis that describes a group of symptoms. This is a common label being attached to emotionally intense people.

Some traits include:

* Fearing abandonment and/ or rejection
* Having series of intense and unstable relationships
* Not having a strong sense of self-identity, ‘Who am I?’
* Impulsive self-harming behaviors
* Recurrent suicidal ideation and attempts
* Severe mood swings
* Chronic feelings of emptiness
* Sudden, uncontrollable rage
* Feeling dissociated from reality during stressful times

Sometimes people with BPD seem to view the world in a black-or-white, ‘all good or all bad’ fashion.

Often, the most painful part of this diagnosis is being misunderstood by and feeling isolated from those close to you. It’s hard not to push people away in a moment of upset, despite their craving closeness and connection.

Teens struggling with emotional dysregulation are NOT ‘bad people’. They are NOT manipulative or attention seekers. They are are often born with a highly responsive nervous system that requires a certain level of care, like a finely tuned sports car. But it may feel like they’re driving a Ferrari “with bicycle brakes.”

Even with the best intention, a childhood environment where there might not be a ‘temperament fit’ between the parents and the intense child, can result in an emotional gulf. Unless these individuals are supported in learning the tools they need to thrive, their sensitivity and intensity will be perceived as something being grossly wrong with them, and they could end up misdiagnosed and struggling for years.

(acknowledging Imi Lo)

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