What Is an Emotional Upheaval?

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An emotional upheaval is something that can create stress, trauma and pain for any individual. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines the word "upheaval" as "extreme agitation or disorder" or "radical change.

" Emotional upheavals, therefore, refer to major emotional struggles or periods of intense internal chaos, often due to life-altering events or changes. Unlike a bad mood or period of passing depression, an emotional upheaval may last significantly longer or require an individual to seek professional help.

Emotional Causes

In many cases, an emotional upheaval is caused by some sort of emotional trauma or sudden life change. The onset of depression or anxiety due to work stress, a death in the family, divorce or moving can be part of an emotional upheaval. However, an emotional upheaval is not necessarily caused by something that is generally considered traumatic by most people. Anything that creates a sense of fear, loneliness or stress may be enough to trigger an emotional upheaval. Phobias or emotional triggers related to past events can also cause an emotional upheaval. Certain people may be more sensitive than others when it comes to emotional stress, which means that what causes an emotional upheaval in one person may not cause it in another.

Physical Causes

An emotional upheaval can also be caused by physical changes in the body or a disability. Things like major surgery, illnesses, accidents or simple aches and pains can be triggers for an emotional upheaval. It's not uncommon for feelings of hopelessness, isolation, helplessness or weakness -- due to a physical disability or condition -- to cause an intense emotional response. The sudden changes in lifestyle or routine may be enough to bring about a state of severe emotional stress due to the individual's lack of control over the situation.

Seeking Help

While everyone experiences emotional struggles from time to time, it's important to know when to seek help if you're dealing with an emotional upheaval. Navigating the emotional responses that come from difficult circumstances might require professional help. If you find yourself unable to attend to daily activities, have sudden changes in appetite and sleep patterns or feel you might be a threat to yourself or others, it's best to consult a trained therapist. If you feel you can deal with the emotional upheaval on your own, it's important to eat healthy, avoid consuming mood-altering substances, like alcohol, and get plenty of rest until you start feeling normal again.

Assisting Loved Ones

Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine whether or not a loved one needs help dealing with an emotional upheaval. You may need to be more supportive or attentive than normal, but also look for clues that the person may need professional help. Extreme isolation, anger, loss of interest in hobbies or risky behaviour, like drinking, might indicate the need for counselling or psychiatric care. If the loved one does not need professional help, you can assist him by being a supportive listener and helping him focus on positive aspects of life.