12 Warning Signs Someone Is Emotionally Unstable

It is common to experience emotions beyond a certain scale and react to them.

However, certain characteristics suggest a person might be emotionally unstable.

This is not about labeling people – but understanding the reason behind your loved ones’ emotional instability will help you be there for them.

Emotional instability isn’t always easy to spot, but it’s something many of us encounter, whether in friends, family, or even ourselves.

In a world where mental health is increasingly discussed, knowing the signs is super helpful.

That’s why we have gathered a list of twelve warning signs of emotional instability.

Signs A Person Might be Unstable

Frequent Mood Swings

This isn’t just about having a bad day. It’s about extreme shifts in mood that seem disproportionate to what’s happening around them.

For example, a small criticism at work might lead to a sudden burst of anger or tears.

These mood swings can be confusing and exhausting for those experiencing them and those around them.

Intense Emotional Reactions

Imagine a situation where most people would be slightly annoyed, like a canceled plan.

Someone emotionally unstable might react with intense anger, deep sadness, or even panic.

The severity of the reaction is key here, and it can often feel like an overreaction to those around them.

Difficulty In Maintaining Relationships

Their relationships might be a rollercoaster of highs and lows, with frequent arguments, breakups, and reconciliations.

Friends and partners might feel like they’re walking on eggshells, unsure of what will upset the person next.

Impulsive Behavior

This could look like sudden, unplanned trips, quitting a job on a whim, or making large, impulsive purchases.

These actions are often a way to feel in control or to chase a fleeting sense of happiness, but they usually have negative long-term consequences.

Attention Seeking

Attention-seeking behavior is a common trait in someone who’s emotionally unstable.

This isn’t about the occasional desire to be noticed or appreciated, which is normal for most people.

Emotionally unstable people use dramatic or inappropriate behavior to be the center of attention.

It’s important to understand that this isn’t just about wanting attention; it’s often a deeper cry for help or validation.

Low Self-Esteem

They frequently speak negatively about themselves and seem unable to accept compliments.

Emotionally unstable people have a deeply ingrained belief that they are not worthy or capable, which can hold them back in many areas of life.

Trouble Handling Stress

Small stressors, like a plan changes or a minor conflict, can feel insurmountable.

They might respond with disproportionate anxiety, anger, or even complete withdrawal, making everyday life challenging.

Difficulty Concentrating

People with emotional trauma find it a consistent struggle to stay focused, often impacting their work or personal projects.

They might start many things but struggle to finish them, leading to frustration and failure.

Feeling Emotionally Numb

In response to overwhelming emotions, they might shut down completely.

You might notice a lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy, a disconnection from friends and family, or a general sense of apathy.

Lack Of Physical Wellness

Emotional instability manifests physically. It’s not just about feeling mentally unwell; it also leads to neglecting physical health.

This might include irregular eating patterns, like overeating or not eating enough, or a disregard for personal hygiene and general health.

Sleeping issues, such as insomnia or oversleeping, are also common.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is an easy way to escape or numb their feelings.

It might start as social drinking but can escalate to using substances regularly to deal with daily life, which can lead to addiction and other health issues.


This is a particularly serious sign and might include cutting, burning, or other forms of physical harm.

This makes them feel like coping with emotional pain, a cry for help, or a method to feel in control.

Seeking Professional Help For Emotional Instability

Recognizing the signs of emotional instability is just the first step.

If you or someone you know displays these behaviors, seeking professional help is crucial.

Therapists, counselors, and psychologists are trained to provide the support and strategies to manage and overcome these challenges.

Mental health professionals often recommend getting an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).

ESAs comfort and emotional support that helps mental well-being.

To start this process, you can look into how to get an ESA letter, a formal document prescribed by a licensed mental health professional.

This letter enables you to live and travel with your ESA and is a testament to the therapeutic benefits your pet provides.

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