Dysregulated nervous system is not always a personality disorder

personality disorder

I have never been a fan of diagnostic manuals and labels because I strongly believe it creates a lot of resistance towards change. I have encountered people who got diagnostic labels of personality disorders, did a lot of therapy which eventually didn’t work out for them. Behavioural interventions without addressing the underlying trauma is just like putting on a bandaid without checking how deep the wound is, how they got hurt in the first place and what care they got. Recently, a client disclosed that interventions were given without addressing the trauma history.

Our nervous system is built to ensure our survival. So when we encounter a threat to our existence, the nervous system responds in such a way that it guarantees our survival. From there it adapts to learn certain responses to similar circumstances which act as triggers. Often, people cannot even figure out why they got triggered when they are in a survival mode.

What is a Dysregulated Nervous System

A dysregulated nervous system involves a hypervigilant state where the person is ready to respond to anything as a threat..Trauma or any childhood adversity affects our body, our nervous system. Even unmet emotional needs give you the same pain as any physical pain. People with dysregulated nervous systems would have grown up in unsafe and volatile environments. They become hypervigilant because it helps them to survive in such an environment to keep them emotionally safe. They develop unworkable patterns to detach from their pain which could be self harm, addictions, fainting or any impulsive behaviours than promise pleasure. These responses help them temporarily dissociate from their body by detaching themselves from pain, guilt or shame. Many marginalised population in our society have been going through various situations where they accumulate pain, hurt and discrimination. Only in a trauma informed space, they get a space to be addressed..

Having said that, dysregulated nervous systems are often confused with Personality disorders. Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that  severely upsets a person’s emotional regulation skills.This may result in dangerous impulsive behaviours, negative self-image, harmful self-talk, and damage to relationships with others. Uncontrollable emotional responses is also a characteristic of personality disorder and makes it often confused with nervous dysregulation. 

Can we heal a dysregulated nervous system?

Normally the dysregulation is caused by past trauma. Addressing these traumatic instances is the primary step towards healing. A trauma informed therapist can help with this. Once we address the underlying issues, continued therapy can help us bring the balance back to our nervous system. 

Consider therapy to avail help getting back the balance of your nervous system. To book an appointment with us visit That Safe Space page.

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