A large part of our mental health pertains to our emotions. There are quite a few emotions that someone can experience, and they go beyond feeling happy or sad. In fact, some research says that there are more than 30,000 human emotions. We’ve all felt almost every type of emotion throughout our lives, but sometimes it feels like your emotions are being significantly heightened, but you’re not sure why.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by emotion, especially negative emotion, there are a few possible explanations.
What are emotions?
To put it simply, an emotion is a feeling or reaction to certain situations and circumstances. Several theories about categorizing emotions have been developed over the years.
A common reference for a person’s emotional range is the Atlas of Emotions. This is a consensus led by renowned psychologist Paul Ekman who surveyed scientists to determine the five universal emotions:
Feeling more emotional
We all feel some sort of emotion nearly every second that we’re awake. We can feel tired after a long day of work or school, excited when a new episode of our favorite show comes on, and annoyed when a family member eats our leftovers. But there are times when our emotions just feel like they are out of control and it’s difficult to rein them in.
Despite the fact that there are many happy emotions that take over our body during joyous occasions, sadness is what usually takes over when we’re feeling overwhelmed by emotions.
Having heightened emotions often refers to getting upset over small inconveniences or feeling frustrated to the point of crying. It’s quite common to feel overwhelmed by emotion sometimes. But if you’re consistently feeling overwhelmed by sadness or anger, there are some possible explanations.
8 reasons why you may be feeling emotional
There are quite a few potential reasons why you’re emotional. Some of the possibilities are out of your control, while others may require habit changes or medical assistance.
Heightened emotions could be caused by:
- Genetics — If you wear your heart on your sleeve, it could be in your DNA. In fact, up to 60% of your temperament can stem from genetics. Heightened emotions may be linked to sensory processing sensitivity, which is a personality trait that can be passed down. It refers to processing the world on a deep level.
- Lack of sleep — Not getting enough sleep can do more than just make you tired. It can also shorten your temper, which can cause you to be easily aggravated. Sleep deprivation can affect your emotional regulation, causing you to feel more irritable.
- Unhealthy eating habits — Not eating regular meals can affect your blood sugar, making you have a lack of energy and positive emotions.
- Gut-brain connection — As you can tell from the previous bullet point, your digestive health can play a big part in your emotions. Additionally, if you don’t have healthy gut bacteria, your stomach can send signals up to the parts of your brain that affect your mood regulation.
- Hormones — An imbalance in your hormones is a common reason behind heightened negative emotions. Estrogen and testosterone fluctuations can result in mood irregularity. Hormonal changes can stem from premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, aging and even injuries.
- Stress — We all get stressed out from time to time, and it often manifests itself through emotion. When you have a tough deadline at work or bills piling up, you become much more sensitive to situations that could cause anger or sadness. The inability to handle stress can also increase your risk of generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder.
- Grief — Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things we go through as we get older. And we often have to grieve multiple losses throughout our lifetime. As sadness and anger are integral to the grieving process, those emotions become much more intense. Grief can also stem from the ending of a relationship or friendship.
- Mental health — Besides anxiety and depression, there are several mental disorders that can cause heightened emotions. Mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder have increased feelings of sadness or anger as common symptoms.
Lightfully Behavioral Health can help with mental illnesses that are causing you to be emotional
Whether you’ve become emotional due to mental illnesses, grief or anxiety, we’re here to help regulate your mood and improve your positive emotions.
We offer four programs at our mental health treatment centers to assist people with their mental health journey: residential treatment, Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also called our Day Treatment Program.
Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.