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How To Deal With Anger And Depression

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Defining Depression And Anger

Anger & Depression | Kati Morton

Depression and anger are both considered negative emotions. Depression is more commonly known as sadness or feeling blue. Anger is often expressed as frustration, irritability, or annoyance. While both of these emotions are normal human experiences, they can become problematic when theyre experienced in excess.

Moreover, when someone is experiencing depression, they may also find themselves feeling angry more easily or excessively. This can be confusing and frustrating, as it can feel like youre constantly cycling between two negative emotions.

Depression and anger are both emotions that everyone experiences at some point in their life. However, when these emotions are felt in excess, they can become problematic. Depression is more commonly known as sadness or feeling blue, while anger is often expressed as frustration, irritability, or annoyance.

Its important to understand the difference between these two emotions so that you can better deal with them when they arise.

What Does Irritability Look Like When Its Part Of Depression

There are many things that can prompt irritability and anger in young people. What are the signs that these negative moods might be associated with depression?

If the irritability is constant rather than conditional. We expect some level of irritability from teenagers in general, especially when theyre being asked to do something they dont want to do, like put down their phones and join the family for dinner. But that typical kind of irritation or anger is intermittent, and its provoked by something specific.

However, if irritation is the main way that a teenager is throughout the day, says Dr. Allerhand, and not only at home but also at school or in other environments, it may be related to a mood disorder rather than an environmental circumstance.

If the irritability is accompanied by other symptoms of depression. In addition to depressed mood or irritability, to be diagnosed with depression a child would have to have at least four of these symptoms:

  • Losing interest in things they once enjoyed
  • Feeling worthless, saying negative things about themselves
  • Lacking energy, feeling tired or seeming lazy
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Gaining or losing weight, changes in appetite
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Thinking about or attempting suicide

What Causes Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Researchers are still trying to discover the exact cause of intermittent explosive disorder, but they think genetic, biological and environmental factors contribute to its development:

  • Genetic factors: IED more commonly runs in biological families. Studies suggest that 44% to 72% of the likelihood of developing impulsive aggressive behavior is genetic.
  • Biological factors: Studies show that brain structure and function are altered in IED. For example, brain magnetic resonance imaging studies suggest that it affects the amygdala, which is the part of your brain involved in emotional functioning. In addition, studies show that the level of serotonin is lower than normal in people with IED.
  • Environmental factors: Experiencing verbal and physical abuse in childhood and/or witnessing abuse during childhood appears to play a role in the development of IED. Having experienced one or more traumatic events in childhood also seems to play a role.

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Why May Depression Present As Anger

The use of ineffective or inappropriate emotional regulation strategies as well an impaired ability to process negative information may play a role in developing depression. Authors of a review published in Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology noted that these behaviors can result in:

Rumination: repetitive, unwanted, past-oriented negatively inclined thoughts. Individuals who ruminate may mentally rehearse past stressful events and worry about future events.

Impaired cognitive reappraisal: inability to reframe ones thoughts about emotion-eliciting occurrences to change their effects.

Increased expressive suppression: attempts to hide, inhibit or reduce ongoing emotion-expressive behavior.

But how does that relate to anger? A separate study in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry sought to explain the mediating role of emotional regulation and anger rumination on the relation between anger and major depressive disorder. Researchers ultimately found that people with depression were more likely to experience anger and irritability if they lacked the ability to emotionally regulate and ruminated on negative events.

Similarly, a study in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research indicates that African American patients with depression may culturally express the mood disorder as irritability, increased agitation, increased hostility and internalized anger. They may also be less likely to verbalize feelings of depression.

How Is Intermittent Explosive Disorder Diagnosed

If you think you or your child may have intermittent explosive disorder, its important to talk to your healthcare provider. Theyll likely refer you to a mental health professional whos experienced in diagnosing IED.

A licensed mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker can diagnose IED based on the diagnostic criteria for it in the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

They do so by performing a thorough interview and having conversations about symptoms. They ask questions thatll shed light on:

  • Personal medical history and biological family medical history, especially histories of mental health conditions.
  • Relationship history.
  • School or work history.
  • Impulse control.

Your mental health professional may also work with your family and friends to collect more insight into your behaviors and history.

To receive an intermittent explosive disorder diagnosis, you must display a failure to control aggressive impulses as defined by either of the following:

The degree of aggression displayed during the outbursts must be greatly out of proportion to the situation. In addition, the outbursts arent pre-planned. Theyre impulse- and/or anger-based. Your mental health professional will also make sure that the outbursts arent better explained by another mental health condition, medical condition or substance use disorder.

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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider For Intermittent Explosive Disorder

If you or your child has been diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, youll need to see your healthcare team regularly to make sure your treatment is working.

If you or your child displays behavior that harms or endangers others, such as other people or animals, its important to find immediate care.

People with intermittent explosive disorder who are thinking of harming themselves or attempting suicide need help right away.

If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1.800.273.TALK .

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Its important to remember that intermittent explosive disorder is a mental health condition. As with all mental health conditions, seeking help as soon as symptoms appear can help decrease the disruptions to your life. Mental health professionals can offer treatment plans that can help you manage your thoughts and behaviors.

The family members and loved ones of people with IED often experience stress, depression and isolation. Its important to take care of your mental health and seek help if youre experiencing these symptoms. If youre in a relationship with someone who has intermittent explosive disorder, take steps to protect yourself and your children.

Coping With Extreme Anger As A Symptom Of Depression

I have recently been forced to cope with extreme anger as a symptom of depression. Not crabbiness or grumpiness or irritation–anger. Bitter rage intoxicates my brain and makes it impossible to care about anything . I am indifferent, and Ive never been indifferent. I cannot find enjoyment in anything, and I have always tried to find little joys. Laughter feels foreign and serenity seems like a figment of my imagination. The most infuriating part is that I have no idea why I am so angry, and the anger has created a setback in my process of coping with depression.

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How Can Anger Affect Me

When we get angry, it can be hard to think things through especially if that anger seems overwhelming or uncontrollable. And if we feel angry a lot of the time in other words, if we get into constant patterns of thinking angry thoughts about ourselves or others its hard to take a step back and communicate in a healthy and productive way.

We may tense up and clench our teeth. Our hearts might pump faster, our stomachs might churn, and we may clench our fists. These are useful early warning signs that we are getting wound up.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to recognise just how much anger you are feeling, and how it is affecting you. This might be because you have lots of things going on in your life.

After getting angry about something you might start to feel guilty about it, and this can make you feel worse.

The same young person wearing a grey jumper holds three signs. The signs read:

Here are things I do when I feel myself getting angry1. I talk about how I am feeling2. I try and recognise I’m angry and listen to others

The same young person has long brown hair and wears a yellow jumper, they hold three signs which read:Here are things I do when I feel myself getting angry1. Putting on my favourite music really helps2. Doing an action that helps me feel something different, like walking my dog

Signs And Symptoms: How To Identify Depression

Why depression causes anger, and how to reign it in

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disordersdiagnosed with major depressive disorder

Do you:

  • Constantly feel tearful, empty, or worthless?
  • Have little interest or pleasure in your work, hobbies, friends, family, and other things you once enjoyed?
  • Notice dramatic changes up or down in your appetite or your weight not related to dieting?
  • Often feel listless or fatigued for no obvious reason?
  • Have trouble concentrating or making decisions?
  • Find yourself wringing your hands, pacing, or showing other signs of anxious restlessness or the opposite, moving or speaking more slowly than usual?
  • Struggle with insomnia or sleep too much?
  • Have recurrent thoughts of suicide or death?

To be diagnosed with MDD, one of your symptoms must be a persistent low mood or a loss of interest or pleasure, the DSM-5 states. Your symptoms must also not be due to substance abuse or a medical condition, such as thyroid problems, a brain tumor, or a nutritional deficiency.

Of course, its normal to have any or all of these symptoms temporarily from time to time. The difference with depression is that the symptoms persist and make it difficult to function normally.

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Treating Anger Disorders: Anger Management Treatment Program Options

Uncontrolled anger can affect your relationships, your job and your health. Rage can take over your life and result in depression, violence and suicidal feelings. Your kids, neighbors and coworkers can also be at risk from uncontrolled outbursts and erratic behavior. If you are suffering from anger issues, it is vital that you get the support you need to develop effective management strategies.

Several options are available, including both inpatient and outpatient treatment with mental health counselors. Executive treatment programs and luxury facilities are also available to serve a wider variety of patients. Modern treatments are targeted and effective, often offering results in as little as six to eight weeks.

Can Anger Be A Sign Of Depression

The recent study of DSM-5 does not list anger as a sign of depression among others. So, scientifically it is not a sign. However, people who experience depression often report that anger is one of their most prominent symptoms.

In fact, it is believed that anger can manifest with depression in several ways. These include:

Also Check: What Is The Difference Between Sadness And Depression

Lifestyle Changes And Natural Remedies

Some people may choose to take herbal remedies to treat depression.

However, there is little research to prove that they are effective in treating depression.

Some of the substances that doctors have studied include:

  • S-adenosylmethionine
  • St. Johns wort

In addition to these supplements, certain lifestyle practices may help lift a persons mood. These include:

  • engaging in regular exercise
  • spending time with loved ones
  • eating a healthful diet

Some people also report that alternative therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, tai chi, and yoga can boost their mood.

Light therapy is another alternative treatment option. It involves exposing a person to a special light box. The light can help regulate the production of melatonin, a chemical that plays a role in a persons natural sleep-wake cycle.

How To Change Negative Thought Patterns

No matter what the cause of your persistent negative thinking, you can learn to challenge your negative thought patterns by refuting the cognitive distortions as they arise. This involves identifying negative thoughts as they enter your brain and offering another perspective to shut them down. Frances McIntosh from Intentional Coaching LLC advocates literally talking to your negative thoughts to counteract them:

Let your internal voice say, Im recognizing a negative thought its a story Im telling myself, and its not true.

If you are able to find a quiet spot, it can be useful to meditate on these words with your eyes closed for a few minutes to let them sink in. Although repeating these words may feel silly, know that you are working hard to challenge the automatic thoughts youve spent a long time going over.

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Depression Presenting As Anger

Not knowing that youre dealing with depression can make the sudden presence of anger problems all the more confusing and frustrating. Maybe you dont understand that anger can be the dominant emotion in depression, especially for teenagers and children. In that case, it may never occur to you that depression could be the underlying issue.

As we mentioned already, you might direct anger from depression outwardly, for instance, at situations or other people, or inwardly, towards yourself.

Anger Pain And Depression Are Sometimes Perceived As One Big Emotion But When You Dont Distinguish Between Them They Could End Up Fueling Each Other

Anger, pain and depression are three negative experiences so closely bound together it can sometimes be hard to know where one ends and the other begins. Pain is a complex phenomenon that has emotional and physical components. The emotions play a huge role in the experience of pain, and pain is intimately associated with depression. It’s long been known that the psychic pain of depression feeds anger. But just as often, anger fuels depression.

A powerful emotion physiologically and emotionally, anger often feels goodbut only for the moment. It can be a motivating force that moves you to action. But there are good actions and bad ones it’s vital to distinguish between the two.

Many people confuse anger and hostility. Anger is a response to a situation that presents some threat. Hostility is a more enduring characteristic, a predisposition, a personality trait reflecting a readiness to express anger.

Anger is usually anything but subtle. It has potent physiological effects. You feel it in your chest. You feel it in your head. You feel it coursing through your body.

Nevertheless, anger can be insidious. Anger confers an immediate sense of purpose it’s a shortcut to motivation. And if there’s something depressed people need, it’s motivation. But anger creates a cycle of rage and defeatism.

Here are ways to keep anger from feeding your depression.

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Use Your Bodys Senses As An Early Warning System

Similar to managing stress, listening to your body and paying attention to the physical signs of anger can help. Watch for your muscles tightening , feeling flush or heated, an increased heart rate, breathing harder, or sweating more than usual.

Over time, youll get better at noticing these early signs of anger before you lose your cool.

Anxiety Medications For Anger

Anger as a Depression Symptom: I’m Constantly Angry

In addition to antidepressants, some anxiety medications may also treat anger.

Benzodiazepines are a group of anxiety medications that can treat anxiety and agitation in short-term situations. Sometimes, agitation may appear in the form of anger. Midazolam and lorazepam are fast-acting benzodiazepines that can be used for quick management of agitation, but they shouldnt be taken long-term for this.

Aside from SSRIs for anxiety, non-benzodiazepine anxiety medications dont have as much supporting data for treating anger or agitation.

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Residential Anger Management Treatment Centers

If your anger problems are seriously affecting your day-to-day life, a residential or inpatient anger management treatment center may be indicated. The access to dedicated treatment staff and controlled conditions may be necessary if you find yourself:

  • In trouble with the law as a result of anger issues
  • Experiencing constant, uncontrollable arguments with your family members or coworkers
  • Lashing out physically at your children or other adults
  • Threatening violence to other people or their property
  • Losing control of yourself when you get angry
  • Believing that everything will be fine if you just hold in your anger

Remember that the purpose of anger management treatment is to give you the tools necessary to express your emotions in healthier and safer ways. A professional can help you get your anger and reactive behavior under control.

Suppressing The Immune System

The immune system is a very important part of our body. It helps us fight against diseases and infections. When we are stressed, our immune system may be suppressed. This can make us more susceptible to illnesses and infections.

Stress can also cause inflammation, which is a natural response of the immune system. However, when we are constantly stressed, our bodies may be in a state of chronic inflammation. This state can weaken our immune system and make us more susceptible to illness.

Moreover, when we are stressed, our bodies may produce more white blood cells. While this may sound like a good thing, it can actually weaken our immune system. This is because white blood cells can attack healthy cells, which can lead to inflammation.

Having constant attacks and inflammation can lead to a number of health problems, such as autoimmune diseases, allergies, and even cancer.

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