Always Overreacting?

by Andrea M. Darcy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Have you been told you are dramatic, that you are overreacting? That you always make a big deal out of nothing, that you go from zero to one hundred? And you know there is some truth to it, but can’t seem to get your emotions under control no matter how hard you try?

Do you have a problem with always overreacting, and if so, why?

Learn the mental health issues or disorders connected to overreacting to see if one of them might be you.

1. Stress.

Only been overreacting of late? Give your life a stress check. Stress can alter our levels of cortisol, leaving us with highs and lows of energy that can trigger mood swings. So if you’ve recently had a breakup, trouble at work, or a fight with a family member, stress could be your issue.

2. Depression.

Depression leads to what psychology calls ‘cognitive distortions’ -- when your thoughts are far from reality or ‘distorted’, but you think they are true. This includes black and white thinking, fortune telling, and doom and gloom scenarios. If, from your depressed mind’s perspective, someone not calling you really seems ‘the end of the world’? Then of course you will overreact.

3. Anxiety disorder.

Anxiety, like stress, affects our cortisol level and leaves us on edge. Anxiety is different than stress, though, as it involves a repetitive cycle of illogical thoughts which leave us in a fear state. And when we are afraid, we overreact.

4. Sleep disorders.

Most people get moody if they don’t get enough sleep. If you have a sleep problem, then you’ll not have had good kip in several weeks or months. It’s hardly surprising that you are snapping and making a big deal out of things.

5. Grief and bereavement.

Someone you loved passed on over a month ago, and think you 'should be over it' by now? But keep having emotional meltdowns? Grief doesn't follow a schedule. And it can come like waves -- small ones, then a giant one that knocks you over. Be patient with yourself. And if it's all too much, seek support.

6.Emotional dysregulation.

It’s a big sounding word that means you don’t have the control over your emotions that other people do. It’s like you are a heater with a broken thermostat. You can go from happy to tears or rage in a second.

Emotional dsyregulation can happen after a recent trauma or a head injury. It’s also a symptom of the mental health disorders that follow.

7. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doesn’t just leave you jumpy and anxious. It can also leave you with mood swings, and see you overreacting to small triggers.

8. Bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder involves periods of depression followed by periods of mania. With bipolar disorder the overreactions are not always negative. You might be overly excited about things when you are manic, and decide something small is the best thing that ever happened to you.

9. Adult ADHD.

A lesser known symptom of adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is overreacting. Again, it can be both positive or negative. You might snap at a partner over a small criticism (ADHD can severely affect self-confidence). But you might also get so exuberant and hyper about an idea that others around you feel intimidated.

10. Borderline personality disorder.

This is the mental health disorder most connected to overreacting. Based around a strong fear of abandonment, if you have BPD you will be known for ‘flipping out’ and being ‘hot cold’, or cutting people out of your life out of the blue. It wreaks havoc on your personal relationships. Most people with BPD tend to have a series of short, intense relationships because maintaining a relationship is too challenging.

Worried one of these is you? Want to know what you can do to get your overreacting under control? Book a therapist now and start finding your way forward.

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