It’s okay to lose control over your emotions once in a while. However, when unstable emotions interfere with a person’s quality of life, it becomes problematic. Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), more commonly known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), can be defined as an illness with varying patterns of negative behaviors, moods, or self-image. Identifying EUPD in yourself or others is a crucial step to receiving the proper treatment. If you have noticed that you or a loved one feels disconnected from friends and family or frequent shifts in a person’s moods and interests, you may want to look into treatment for EUPD.
Signs of being emotionally unstable will most likely occur during early adulthood. EUPD is often misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder or other mood disorders. A person must have 5 or more of the typical EUPD symptoms to be diagnosed with EUPD. These symptoms include:
- Impulsively avoiding real or imagined abandonment. This could include cutting off contact with someone in anticipation of abandonment and may cause the person to have difficulty trusting others.
- A pattern of unstable relationships usually characterized as shifting from idolization to devaluation. People suffering from emotional instability will change their opinions of people quickly. The person may experience love and closeness towards a person one minute and the next feel anger and resentment towards them.
- Constant uncertainty about one’s identity. This means radical shifts in the person’s interests, values, goals, and sexual orientation, most likely due to discontentment with how the person perceives themselves. A person may also feel that their identity is reliant on the people that the person is currently closest to.
- The occurrence of self-damaging impulsivity. This person must have impulsive behavior in at least two extremely damaging areas of his or her life. This may include sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, or binge eating.
- Experiencing recurring suicidal thoughts that may be exhibited through self-harm, threats, or other suicidal behaviors.
- Experiencing reactive moods. Reactive moods could last hours, but unlike bipolar disorder, these moods rarely last days. A person’s reactive moods are triggered by external factors that cause episodes of anger, depression, anxiety, and sometimes euphoria. A reactive mood could be caused by a person’s polarizing beliefs that things are either all good or all bad.
- A feeling of emptiness, which may be caused by feelings of depression, hopelessness, or isolation. People have also described the feeling of emptiness as the feeling that something is missing in a person’s life.
- Intense and uncontrollable feelings of anger that are inappropriate and difficult to control. These feelings may be related to a person’s reactive moods.
- Experience severe dissociative symptoms. These feelings may include: feeling cut off from oneself, seeing yourself outside of your body, feelings of unreality, paranoid thoughts, or hallucinations. Unlike schizophrenia, these dissociations last hours instead of days.
Managing EUPD Symptoms
Learning to manage emotional instability will help you keep some of your symptoms under control. For instance, when you feel intense anger, you might want to try activities that will help you process your anger in a less destructive way that won’t negatively affect your day-to-day activities. If you are feeling depressed or lonely, instead of pushing yourself to be more productive, find an activity that may inspire comfort and compassion for yourself.
If you’re feeling anxious or tense, you might want to do activities that will help you let go of your anxious thoughts and bring you back to the present moment. If you are feeling dissociative or spacey, try an activity that will stimulate your senses like chewing ginger or chili. Managing your EUPD symptoms means finding a method that works for you. A therapist or counselor can also help you discover the best tools and tactics for managing your emotional instability.
The Relationships Between EUPD and SUD
Since people with EUPD tend to be impulsive and are emotionally unstable, they are at a higher risk for substance use disorder (SUD). Some people may abuse substances in order to offset the symptoms of EUPD that they are experiencing and are more likely to abuse substances in environments that trigger negative moods or emotions.
When someone has a dual diagnosis of EUPD and SUD, it’s most effective to treat both disorders simultaneously because the person’s emotional instability will be affected by their addiction and vice versa. EUPD is historically hard to treat and is often misdiagnosed. However, treatment has become more successful over the years as we learn more about EUPD. Treatment for EUPD commonly uses evidence-based practices such as dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Understanding the signs and symptoms of EUPD or BPD will help you find the proper treatment for yourself or a loved one. Many of the symptoms of EUPD can be mitigated with proper treatment. Treatment will give you the tools you need to manage your emotional instability. While EUPD symptoms such as unstable relationships, impulsivity, reactive moods, uncertain identity, and dissociative symptoms may make addiction recovery difficult, dual treatment makes it possible to get your symptoms for both disorders under control.
Shoreline Recovery Center offers both DBT and CBT treatment for people struggling with EUPD and addiction. Shoreline Recovery understands that EUPD symptoms can potentially worsen SUD symptoms. We believe in customized treatment plans that are tailored to your needs and will help you discover tools that will allow you to manage your symptoms. If you or a loved one needs help, please call (866) 278-8495 today to learn more about the programs we offer.