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In medicine and psychology, emotional lability is a sign or symptom typified by exaggerated changes in mood or affect in quick succession. Sometimes the emotions expressed outwardly are very different from how the person feels on the inside. These strong emotions can be a disproportionate response to something that happened, but other times there might be no trigger at all. The person experiencing emotional lability usually feels like they do not have control over the emotions. For example, someone might cry uncontrollably in response to any strong emotion even if they do not feel sad or unhappy.
Children who display a high degree of emotional lability generally have low frustration tolerance and frequent crying spells or tantrums. During preschool, ADHD with emotional lability is associated with increased impairment and may be a sign of internalizing problems or multiple comorbid disorders. Children who are neglected are more likely to experience emotional dysregulation, including emotional lability.
Potential triggers of emotional lability may be: excessive tiredness, stress or anxiety, over-stimulated senses (too much noise, being in large crowds, etc.), being around others exhibiting strong emotions, very sad or funny situations (such as jokes, movies, certain stories or books), death of a loved one, or other situations that elicit stress or strong emotions.
^Cooper, Ruth E; Tye, Charlotte; Kuntsi, Jonna; Vassos, Evangelos; Asherson, Philip (2016-01-15). "The effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on emotional dysregulation, oppositional behaviour and conduct problems in ADHD: A systematic review and meta-analysis". Journal of Affective Disorders. Elsevier BV. 190: 474-482. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2015.09.053. ISSN0165-0327. PMID26551407.
^ abMaire, Jenna; Galéra, Cédric; Meyer, Eric; Salla, Julie; Michel, Grégory (June 2016). "Is emotional lability a marker for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and aggression symptoms in preschoolers?". Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 22 (2): 77-83. doi:10.1111/camh.12168.
^Maguire, S. A.; Williams, B.; Naughton, A. M.; Cowley, L. E.; Tempest, V.; Mann, M. K.; Teague, M.; Kemp, A. M. (2015-03-03). "A systematic review of the emotional, behavioural and cognitive features exhibited by school-aged children experiencing neglect or emotional abuse". Child: Care, Health and Development. Wiley. 41 (5): 641-653. doi:10.1111/cch.12227. ISSN0305-1862. PMID25733080.