Understanding Emotional Stability.
Understanding Emotional Lability
Causes & Symptoms.
Role in Psychological Disorders
Methods for Enhancing Emotion
Emotional Stability is…
“…Calmness of mind and freedom from anxiety and
depression …” (Hay & Ashman, 2003 : 2).
Someone who has the ability to cope
with general changes in the environment
without responding with an intense
emotional reaction, is said to be
Attributes of Emotionally Stable
Stability in their plans and affections.
Do not give into occasional fluctuations
in their mood (i.e. their moods are
(Pavlenko, Chernyi and Goubkina, 2009: p. 39)
Permanent or temporary loss of
Emotions dominate the controlling
facilities of the brain e.g. ventromedial prefrontal
cortex (VMPFC), the right prefrontal cortex (PFC).
Loss of control gives way to bursts of
emotion for no apparent reason.
No stopping to self-regulate emotion or
stopping to self-calm (Barkley, 2010).
Dr Russell Barkley
Talking About the role of PFC regulation and the Limbic System .
Symptoms of Emotional Labilty
Quickness to Anger.
Unable to tolerate waiting.
Showing your emotions more easily;
more raw unmoderated emotion.
Generally more easily excitable.
Causes Found in Research
Stroke or Car Accident (DSM III, 1987).
ADHD (Barkley, 2010)
Trauma and Stress (Martens, 2004)
Anxiety and Depression (Pavlenko, Chernyi &
Been known to impair emotional and social
functioning. Results in:
“…emotional…dysfunction (feelings of loss of old capacities, habits,
and relationships) because of its intensive devastating,
uncontrollable, profound, and long-lasting impact on all internal
dimensions of the person's life…” (Martens, 2004: 24).
Symptom of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (DSM III,
Emotional Lability is likely to be characterised through a 'flood of
emotions' in response to trauma-related stimuli (Weimer, 2002; cited in
Enhances unstable patterns of negative
emotions (i.e. fails to regulate emotional
Loss of control: Inability to suppress
these negative emotions (Rhodes et al,
Highly anxious individuals will generally
have lower emotional stability
(Pavlenko, Chernyi & Goubkina, 2009).
"Resilience is not just a matter of constitutional
strength or a robust temperament, it is also a
product of how people perceive, appraise,
approach and tackle stresses and challenges"
(Bruce and Rickards, 2004: 1).
EFA’s: Omega 3, 6 and 9 (Holford, 2003).
“Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive
actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would
just go away.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves
and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss.
Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better
relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of
self-worth, a more developed spirituality, and heightened appreciation for life.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems
and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the
stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the
event out of proportion.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will
happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities
that you enjoy and find relaxing.
Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal
with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write
about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in / their
Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.
Recent studies have identified the extreme impact
of meditation on the emotional balance of the mind
(Lutz et al, 2008).
Lutz (et al, 2008: 1) conceptualised meditation as
"emotional and alternational regulatory training regimes
developed for various ends, including the cultivation of well-
being and emotional balance"
Enhances consciousness to non-reactively
'monitor' the events and the experience of
emotions which are occurring in the mind (Lutz et
American Psychological Association. (2009). The Road to Resilience. at
http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx# Visited 3/11/2010.
Barkley, R. (2010). ADHD- Emotional Regulation. Presentation at The Centre for
ADHD/ADD Advocacy Canada (CADDAC), at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cw8jHUkHiA (Visited 14.11.2010).
Holford, P. (2003). Optimum Nutrition for the Mind. Piatkus: London.
Lutz, A., Slagter, H.A., Dune, J.A., Davidson, R.J. (2008) Attention Regulation and
Monitoring in Meditation. Cognitive Emotional Trends, 12(4), 163-169
Martens, W.h.j. (2004). Multidimensional Model of Trauma and Correlated personality
Disorder. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 10(2).
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
3rd ed. - revised. (DSM-III-R). American Psychiatric Association, Washington, 1987.
Pavlenko, V.S., Chernyi, S.V., & Goubkina, D.G. (2009) EEG Correlates of Anxiety and
Emotional Stability in Adult Healthy Subjects. Neurophysiology, 41(5), 400-408.
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