People With PTSD and Experience Emotions

Why emotions have an important function

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People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may sometimes experience their emotions as unpleasant, unpredictable and uncontrollable. However, our emotions are necessary parts of our lives. They serve very important functions, and we wouldn't be able to get by each day without them.

Do you know some of the very important functions that emotions play in our lives? The information that follows outline why emotions, even when uncomfortable, are critical.

 

Emotions Communicate Information to Other People

Our emotions tell other people how we are feeling. For example, the expression of anger may tell someone that we should be left alone or anxiety and sadness may tell someone that we need help. As a result, it's important that we feel our feelings rather than avoid upsetting emotions.

Emotions Provide Us with Information

Emotions give us information about our environment. For example, when we experience anxiety, we are given information that we may be in danger.

When we experience anger, we might be provided with information that we do not have control or that someone has violated our rights in some way. Our emotions are our bodies' way of communicating with us. Listen to what they have to say.

Emotions Get Us Ready to Act

Emotions allow us to respond quickly and motivate us to act in certain ways. Because our emotions provide us with information about our environment, they also guide us in acting in ways that are appropriate to the situation.

For example, when you sense danger or threat, you may respond by leaving the situation. Sometimes avoidance can be helpful; other times it can signal a problem.

Emotions Deepen Our Experience of Life

Life would be very boring without emotions. We need both our positive (happiness, excitement, joy) and negative (anger, anxiety, sadness) emotions.

We may sometimes wish that we could get rid of all of our negative emotions; however, the experience of negative emotions is necessary to make positive emotions feel as exhilarating as they do.

Increasing Your Awareness of Your Emotions

Our emotions are necessary and important. However, the only way we can learn from our emotions is if we have awareness of them when they occur. Therefore, it can be important to learn ways of increasing your awareness of your emotions. The more aware you are of your emotions, the better able you will be in hearing what they have to say.

Managing Your Emotions

Now, just because emotions serve an important function does not mean that they aren't stressful at times. Emotions, especially very intense ones, can be overwhelming. Therefore, it can be helpful to learn ways to bring down the intensity of emotions so you can better approach it and learn from it. There are a number of healthy ways of managing your emotions that can help make your emotions feel less unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Even though emotions may sometimes feel unpleasant, they are all working for us in some way. By listening to our emotions, we can get some important information about our environment and ourselves.

Sources:

Gratz, K.L. (2009). An Acceptance-Based Emotion Regulation Group Therapy for Deliberate Self-Harm.

Linehan, M.M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

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