emotional inflammation

What Is Emotional Inflammation?

During times of uncertainty and change such as those which we have been enduring over the last 2 years and continue to bear witness to, experiencing emotional inflammation is very common, yet most people do not realize they are experiencing it. Emotional inflammation is a term for feeling extreme stress and experiencing emotional resources under pressure.

On any given day, we can consider ourselves to be ’emotionally sound’, where we are feeling calm and equipped to deal with anything that comes our way. During extremely stressful times however, we are more susceptible to feeling exhausted, unwell, and less able to cope. When your emotional resources are low, you are likely experiencing emotional inflammation.

The term “Emotional Inflammation” was recently coined by authors Lise Van Susteren, MD and Stacey Colino in their book ‘Emotional Inflammation: Discover Your Triggers and Reclaim Your Equilibrium During Anxious Times’.

4 Reactor Types That Lead to Emotional Inflammation

In their book, Van Susteren and Colino explain how emotional inflammation can manifest in four different reactor types. Having an understanding on which type of reactor you are can help to provide some relief during the most difficult times, and help keep your mental health in check.

  1. The “Nervous” Reactor
    Defined by fear and worry, this type of emotional inflammation is triggered by the uncertainty and anxiety due to the current global situation. Nervous reactors develop high levels of stress.
  2. The “Revved Up” Reactor
    People who tend to “over function” in a crisis will fill their downtime with other jobs and hard work, mainly as a distraction and to fix other problems around them. This can lead to impulsive behaviour, poor problem solving and decision making, and burnout.
  3. The “Molten” Reactor
    Defined by anger and outrage, this type of emotional inflammation is fuelled by those who lash out at others due to emotional distress.
  4. The “Retreating” Reactor
    People who withdraw in a crisis, removing themselves from the outside world (for example never leaving their room / home), and internalizing their emotions and depression, often resorting to eating or drinking for solace.

Warning Signs to Look For

Signs that you might be a bit emotionally inflamed can include:

  • being more irritable than normal
  • eating or drinking more comfort food and alcohol
  • wanting to spend more time alone
  • spending a lot of time passively on social media and/or doom-scrolling
  • getting teary easily
  • feeling unmotivated and unwilling to perform everyday activities

While we cannot control many of the crises that come our way, there are ways we can arm ourselves to find peace, calm, and wellness. Understanding this new breadth of emotionality is a fantastic place to start.