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Emotional Dysregulation & PPD

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Ftaghn!, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. Ftaghn!

    Ftaghn! Peer Supporter

    DISCLAIMER: Not a professional, nor a researcher.

    Hello everyone!
    I've been reading quite a bit lately about anxiety disorders, and I couldn't help making links with PPD. Specifically, while I had been reading about Generalized Anxiety, I stumbled upon a very popular and widely quoted article on this trait called dysregulation. What this is, is the inability to process emotions in a productive manner, which, when matched with other traits(such as hypersensitivity, hypothesized to be very closely linked to dysregulation), may lead to Generalized Anxiety. This article also talks about this other trait called alexithymia, which is the difficulty of differing between emotional states in the self and others, and which is included in the wider definition of emotional dysregulation. They're thought to be partly genetic, partly learned, and tend to originate from a person's youth, more visibly in those who have suffered from chronic abuse or traumas.

    Even more surprising, these traits are not specific to Generalized Anxiety, they're thought to have a major role in a great variety of anxiety, panic, and personality disorders. Dysregulation is not only near universal in anxiety disorder sufferers, it's also common in the general population. Alexithymia, as an example, is thought to be present in up to 10% of the general population, and can actually be caused in normal individuals through shocks and/or trauma (Common symptom of PTSD).

    Connected to this is the theory of worry. Interestingly enough, this theory states that individuals who dysregulate tend to use worry as a defensive avoidance strategy, and an unconscious attempt to lessen autonomic arousal(which, incidentally, is thought to be the source of somatic disorders) and blunt or avoid the emotional trauma.

    Now where does this all click in? These two traits described above, and alexithymia in particular, are very closely linked with a number of possible symptoms:

    -Anxiety/personality/panic disorders
    -Dyspepsia(often with heartburn/peptic ulcers)
    -Migraine headaches
    -Lower back pain
    -Somatization disorders

    Doesn't this sound familiar? The theory of worry shares with repression the characteristic of being a defense mechanism, and those who tend to adopt it, in addition to being led to further discomfort as a result of their faulty strategy, tend to suffer from symptoms that eerily correlate with PPD symptoms. These people are very often anxiety sufferers, but the traits and the avoidance that follows are not restricted to them at all.

    What I take from this, is that research, even when not focusing on somatic-disorder related subjects, touches it in relevant manners. This is not necessarily PPD/TMS, but it's very hard to deny the similarity that some personality traits and other disorders share with it. I dare say that it's not too much of a stone throw to hypothesize that the traits that cause frequent personality disorders may also cause, or be very closely related to PPD. It's sort of a Higgs Boson scenario; researchers are dancing around it, data points that something's there, but it just hasn't been nailed yet.

    Mennin, Douglas S., et al. "Preliminary evidence for an emotion dysregulation model of generalized anxiety disorder." Behaviour Research and Therapy 43.10 (2005): 1281-1310.
    http://www.temple.edu/phobia/int/Publications/2005/246- Mennin et al Preliminary Evidence for an Emotion Dysregulation Model of GAD Behaviour Research and Therapy 2005.pdf

    Taylor GJ, Bagby, M.R., Parker, J.D.A. Disorders of Affect Regulation: Alexithymia in Medical and Psychiatric Illness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999
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  2. RikR

    RikR Well known member

    Damn I love it when academia takes a twenty five cent concept and wraps seventy five cent words around to generate 30 pages. This is the old public or perish we all had to endure...you better write something complex and heady or you are on the street.

    So here is the dumb down:

    Wounded children were exposed to intense emotions no child should endure

    Their developing and limited cortex and life experience did not allow them to understand what was happening to them...so of course they did not understand what they were feeling

    They were unable self soothe: these flood of intense emotional peptides cause an alteration in the nervous system so it becomes over reactive – this is a permanent CNS change.

    In most cases there were no models in the family to teach them how to self soothe. Children can endure significant stress if they feel safe and have people demonstrating proper coping skills
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  3. Chuck

    Chuck Peer Supporter

    Both you of make excellent points. Ftaghn!, it is interesting that you brought up Alexithymia, because in Pathways to Pain Relief one of the causes of TMS is the failure to put emotions into words. Of course fibro, lower back pain, and somatization are common symptoms. It is all TMS. The problem, as RikR points out, is that there is so much research that touches on this, but doesn't fully understand the problem. This is one reason why the research Howard Schubiner is doing is so important. Finally, someone is doing a RCT on the effectiveness of TMS.
    Rinkey likes this.
  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    RikR, your analysis correlates almost point for point with what Dr. Gabor Mate says in When the Body Says No about how early childhood experiences of emotional abandonment by a parent adversely affects brain development in children in such a way that it sets them up for autoimmune diseases and addiction (as well chronic pain) later in life. They come out of such a situation under-equipped to handle subsequent shocks in life like the death of a parent, loss of income, or divorce. Situations that all mimic emotions associated with abandonment incidentally. The biochemistry of their brains predisposes them for trouble down the pipe later on. That's not to say that it can't be undone if they can find a strong mentor, but the damage is really hard to reverse.
    Ftaghn! and Forest like this.
  5. RikR

    RikR Well known member

    I realized this in college working with feral animals that could never be domesticated. Their nervous systems became locked on high sensitivity (too much glutamate overdrive) with hair trigger stress responses.

    Neurophysiologists call this ACE – Adverse Childhood Experiences. Each one of us should have been given a manual for lifestyles to accommodate this CNS alteration.
    Forest likes this.
  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think one of Mate's points is that addicts turn to drugs that artificially create the kind of more authentic emotional soothing they lacked in early childhood. A nasty situation to be sure when combined with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).

    Speaking about dysregulation:

    This reminds me of what Prof. Robert Sapolsky says is one of the traits of solitary male baboons who've removed themselves from the clan. They isolate themselves, Prof. Sapolsky seems to think, because they they can't distinguish between a perceived threat and a real threat (which sounds a whole lot like 'dysregulation'). Hence, they always feel anxious and threatened, which results in higher blood pressure, earlier dementia, and shorter life spans than baboons who can distinguish between a real threat and one that is so far off it's not a real danger: for instance, a dominant alpha male who's about to attack you vs. a dominant alpha male who's several hundred yards off and presents no immediate danger. Prof. Sapolsky's lecture is in the Media section of this Forum:

    Ftaghn! and Forest like this.
  7. Ftaghn!

    Ftaghn! Peer Supporter

    Striking comments! What truly shocked me was how little these traits are mentioned in day-to-day life. It seems to me like they're pretty crucial descriptives of a person. When someone mentions personality disorders, they seem to go straight for the symptoms while skipping the root of the issue -- it seems to me like an anxiety sufferer could find a bit of peace by knowing what causes his or her symptoms, much in the manner that TMS sufferers do.

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