How Your Anger and Depression Are Inter-Related

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Anger is an emotion that people feel sometimes, but if someone is feeling angry a lot of the time, they may be experiencing depression. It can be a common emotion among people experiencing depression.

You may feel angry about events, angry at yourself. Or even angry at yourself. This anger is often difficult to control, to the point that it worsens your depression and affects your professional and personal relationships.

In this post, we look at the connection between anger and depression and the causes of anger in depression. We will also discuss the treatment options for both anger and depression.

What is anger?

It is important to note that anger isn’t a diagnosable mental health condition. It is an unpleasant emotion that you may experience with various mental health disorders and the non-clinical population. Although people feel angry from time to time, feeling maladaptive anger or depressive disorder, specifically when you also have depression, can signify a deeper underlying problem.

What is depression?

Depression is often considered sadness, but unresolved anger but it is more than that. Unlike anger, depression is a diagnosable mental health disorder that involves feelings of low mood combined with other symptoms such as trouble concentrating or trouble to sleep.

Anger and depression?

As I mentioned earlier, anger is a common emotion, but it can be destructive when it is not responded to adaptively. In the case of depression, anger can take multiple different forms. Below we discussed some examples of the types of anger you might experience during the depression.

1. Irritability

It is a feature of depression itself, so it should not be surprising to know that this form of suppressed anger is connected to depression. If you have depression, it may show up as snapping at others over trivial things or being unable to handle even small disappointments without reacting negatively.

2. Hostility

A person having depression who expresses their anger outward may become hostile towards others. This means responding not only with an irritable or depressed mood but also being angry and attacking those around you.

3. Anger attacks

The rapid and intense onset of anger can also be a feature of depression. These onset attacks express anger that may happen in response to trivial matters.

What are the causes of anger in depression?

So, you must be wondering about the causes of anger related to depression. There is some evidence that serotonergic dysfunction may be partly to blame. In other words, neurochemicals in your brain may be off-kilter, leading to depression, irritability, and anger. For this reason, medications that are used to treat depression symptoms may also help to relieve your anger.

Anger turned inward

Anger turned inward is common in those who are having depression. However, this act of self compassion may also worsen the severity of depression. A study conducted in the UK stated that inwardly turned anger in depression might reflect a critical negative inner voice that makes it hard for you to move past feelings of shame. Most often, it also led to feelings of low self-growth

Whenever you listen to your inner critic, it may increase your depression. As a result, you will find it hard to do things that will help alleviate your depression (e.g., doing things that you once enjoyed, spending quality time with your friends, or going out being social).

Moreover, staying angry at yourself only prolongs your feelings of depression and anger, focuses your thoughts on the negative, and makes you feel more sorry for yourself. And ultimately, you feel powerless and negative over time.

So, this is how anger turned inward serves to prolong depression and worsen the severity of your depressive symptoms too.

Anger turned outward

People having depression not only turn their anger inward, but they may also turn it outward and lash their anger outbursts at those around them.

During the depression, you’re more likely to be irritable, leading to snapping at other people over trivial events. In addition, your depression will amplify your negative emotions at the moment, and making it hard to control them, even though you most likely feel bad about it after the fact.

People find it as a vicious cycle that they have trouble escaping from. Eventually, it may lead to problems in their personal and professional relationships and personal life. For example, if you can’t deal with stress in the workplace, the chances are that you will lash out in anger at coworkers, managers, or even customers.

And, if you try to control your anger around family and friends, you may find that this overt or suppressed anger can lead to strained relationships and the loss of people in your life.

Treatment for angry depression

Treatment of angry depression is similar to treatments that exist for depression alone. In short, therapy and medications are empirically validated treatments for depression that may also help alleviate feelings of anger, irritability, and hostility.

1. Therapy

One particular type of therapy that can be helpful for angry depression is Emotionally Focused Therapy developed by psychologist Les Greenberg. In this therapy, anger is viewed as being of two types which are adaptive and non-adaptive.

Adaptive anger motivates you toward taking decisive action. For example, you’ve gained weight due to unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise. Adaptive anger would involve being angry at yourself and feeling inspired and motivated to make a plan to join a gym and start eating healthy food. In this way, this type of anger is controlled and directed.

In contrast, maladaptive anger does nothing to motivate you to take action. In the above example, instead of feeling motivated to join a gym and start eating healthy food, your excessive anger would lead to a downward spiral of self-pity and feeling stuck.

Emotionally Focus therapy can help to relieve depression, improve self-esteem, and reduce distress in interpersonal relationships. For this specific reason, this type of therapy may also help you relieve anger related to depression.

2. Medication

Medication is another treatment option for depression that can also reduce feelings of anger or irritability. Although it is not a direct treatment for anger, alleviating symptoms of depression may have an indirect effect on anger.

Can depression make you have anger issues?

Yes, depression can manifest as anger issues in some individuals. While depression is often associated with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy, it can also lead to increased irritability and anger. This is sometimes referred to as “agitated depression.” People experiencing this form of depression may become easily frustrated, agitated, and prone to outbursts of anger.

Depression can disrupt one’s emotional regulation, making it challenging to manage intense emotions effectively. Additionally, individuals with depression may direct their anger inward, resulting in self-criticism and self-loathing. It’s crucial to recognize these anger issues as potential symptoms of depression and seek professional help to address the underlying mental health condition.

Is Anger Issues a Mental Illness?

Anger issues themselves are not considered a mental illness, but they can be symptomatic of various mental health conditions. Persistent and severe problems with anger management can be a sign of an underlying mental health disorder, such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), a condition characterized by recurrent, intense outbursts of anger disproportionate to the situation.

Additionally, anger issues can co-occur with mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder, as well as personality disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It’s important to recognize and address anger issues, as they can significantly impact one’s mental well-being and relationships, and may require therapy or treatment for the underlying condition.

Final Thoughts

If you are struggling with anger and depression daily and impair your daily functioning, it’s important to see a mental health professional. If you haven’t seen a mental health professional about your condition, you may be offered a diagnosis as well as treatment. If you want to receive help, then the first step is to talk to your family doctor.

You don’t need to feel ashamed about reaching out for help, asking family and friends for support, or joining a support group. However, making yourself a priority or asking for help might be what it takes to improve your relationships and feel better about your daily life.

John S. - Editor in Chief
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