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Emotional instability: what is it and what signals can be detected?

Emotional instability: what is it and what signals can be detected?

January 25, 2022

Emotions are the foundation of our mental activity. Without them, we would not be able to guide our behavior towards any specific goal, nor would we know in an approximate way what we want and do not want in our lives.

However, the fact of having a resource as a wide range of emotions has a not so positive side: the possibility of experiencing emotional instability . Let's see what it is and in what ways it can appear.

  • Related article: "The 8 types of emotions (classification and description)"

What is emotional instability?

Emotional instability is a personality trait that belongs to the spectrum of neuroticism, and is expressed through the expression of relatively abrupt changes in a person's emotional state .


In some cases, emotional instability can be practically innocuous, if the context is propitious; but in other extreme cases, It can become a psychological phenomenon linked to discomfort both those who experience it in the first person and those who are close to the previous one.

Characteristics of emotionally unstable people

Among the typical characteristics of people with emotional instability, the following stand out.

1. Bias towards discomfort

It may seem that in certain aspects emotionally unstable people live life intensely, but the fact of being so sensitive to the changes that occur with each situation often causes them to focus their attention on those experiences that make them feel bad, either by anger, sadness or fear .


This is due to a bias aimed at trying to get away from discomfort, as a priority goal, more important than enjoying those moments of happiness.

2. Quick changes of mood

The emotional instability causes that the stimuli of the present are imposed easily to the emotional states derived from experiences that have happened recently, even though the new situations that unleash those emotions are apparently less important than what has happened to us before and has left us that good or bad taste in your mouth.

For example, someone with emotional instability who passed his driving test a few hours ago may feel very sad to see a television ad with a sad message.

3. Low tolerance to frustration

Emotionally unstable people they do not usually assimilate well the moments in which their expectations are frustrated , since they see these situations as added problems for the simple fact of being unexpected.


4. Complex personal relationships

In general, people with pronounced emotional instability come to have difficulties to have a social network and broad support , since their social skills suffer due to the low control over emotions.

The extreme case: affective lability

When the emotional instability becomes so pronounced that can be considered a symptom of a mental disorder , is known as affective lability. It is a common phenomenon in psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, cyclothymia or bipolar disorder.

In these cases, the situation is serious and may even go hand in hand with other symptoms that strongly affect emotional states, such as hallucinations.

  • Related article: "Emotional lability: what is it and what are its symptoms?

Can you learn to control emotions?

In non-pathological cases of emotional instability, it is usually possible to train the ability to regulate emotions in a useful and adaptive way . However, for this purpose, psychological intervention is usually necessary with the help of professionals of this discipline.

The field of Emotional Intelligence , in particular, it is an area of ​​intervention that points towards promising discoveries. This mental aptitude is known to be related to general intelligence (measured by the IC) without being exactly the same, and that has to do with the ease with which we become happy.

To enjoy a better emotional balance, then, it is necessary to go through a series of practical situations that help us to draw habits of life that promote a joint and coherent vision of our experiences, as well as a modification of our fundamental beliefs by means of what is known as cognitive restructuring. In this way, tremendous interpretations of reality, which make us prone to sudden changes in mood, will lose strength in favor of a more realistic perception of things.


How to Identify Symptoms of Mental Illness in a Friend (January 2022).


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