Is ’emotional flooding’ ruining your relationships?

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Share it with your family, especially your partner. Tell them what you are feeling and ask them to be a little more understanding of your experience. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

You know that feeling when you are so inside your own head and overpowered by your emotions that you are unable to think rationally and logically? Say, you get in an argument with a loved one and instead of ending it, you keep rambling, unable to think and communicate straight; chances are you are experiencing emotional flooding. Here is what you need to know about it.

What is it?

Experts say that emotional flooding makes a person feel overwhelmed. They find it difficult to calm down as stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol shoot up inside the body. This can trigger physiological responses like fight, flight, or freeze, as well.

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Emotional flooding can make your heart rate go up, causing you to feel breathless. Also, it can make you feel knots or pits in your stomach, drying and constriction of throat, tightening of the chest, sweating, anxiety and, of course, trouble thinking and speaking coherently.

Science has an explanation for it. When the part of the brain that takes care of the emotions gets triggered, our amygdala that is supposed to process these emotions, shuts down the more rational and evolved part of the brain which is responsible for logic and reasoning. To put it simply, in that moment you are only feeling the emotions and if anyone tries to reason with you, you give out quite an unreasonable response. You are basically overpowered by your own negative thoughts and extreme feelings.

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During emotional flooding, you are overpowered by your own negative thoughts and extreme feelings. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

Why does it happen?

We feel emotionally flooded when we sense that something is threatening us. It can vary from person to person. For instance, while for one person the very idea of rejection can work as an emotional trigger, for another their partner's indifference can threaten them. But, it should be noted that even when there is no actual threat looming, an assumption or a memory, or even a heated conversation can act as a trigger.

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Dealing with it

If you have had episodes of emotional flooding, remember that you can do something about it. You do not want to jeopardize your relationships. As such, experts say that you can begin by taking a breath. Breathing can kick-start the rest of the (rational) brain and send a message to the body to calm down. Share it with your family, especially your partner. Tell them what you are feeling and ask them to be a little more understanding of your experience. If nothing helps, therapy is always the best option.