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Is Anger a Symptom of Depression?

Overview

Key points

  1. Anger may be a symptom of depression.
  2. Your doctor can help you manage your anger and treat your depression.
  3. Seek immediate medical help if you feel you want to hurt yourself or someone else.

Everyone experiences anger at some point in their life. These moments are usually short-lived. Sometimes, though, anger may linger. Long-term anger can be a symptom of depression. Researchers have found a connection between feelings of anger and depression. In an older study from 1998, researchers observing people with depression noted that one-third also experienced sudden episodes of anger.

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Symptoms

Symptoms of anger and depression

Anger is a feeling you have that often goes away after a short period of time. Symptoms include:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • increased blood pressure
  • rage
  • aggressive behavior

Depression is a consistent feeling of deep sadness or hopelessness that lasts for weeks or longer. Symptoms of depression may include:

  • anger
  • feelings of confusion, sadness, or hopelessness
  • extreme weight loss or weight gain
  • loss of interest in things you normally enjoy
  • loss of energy
  • unexplained body aches and pains (that is, they aren’t because of an accident or exercise)
  • thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life

People who experience anger and depression may suppress their feelings of anger. Alternatively, they may be more likely to display their anger through aggression or even violence toward a loved one, such as a spouse. Seek immediate emergency help if you begin to fantasize about hurting yourself or someone else.

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Diagnosis

Should I see a doctor?

See your doctor if you think you’re experiencing depression or if you have persistent feelings of anger. They can help determine if you’re experiencing something that will go away on its own or whether you need additional treatment. Anger may also be a sign of other physical or mental health disorders. Seeing your doctor is the only way to find out.

When you go in to see your doctor, make sure you bring a list of all of your concerns so you don’t forget anything. Your doctor will then discuss any changes in your lifestyle. They’ll ask questions about your relationships, work, family, and anything else that may be affecting your mood. Your doctor will want to know if your emotions seem to happen only once in a while or if you’re angry every single day. Be open with your doctor and answer their questions truthfully. They are there to help and will need to know everything that could be causing your anger.

Your doctor will also want to know your family history to see if anyone close to you has a history of similar symptoms.

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Treatment

Treatment for anger and depression

If your doctor feels that your episodes of anger are triggered by specific situations or people, treatment suggestions may include staying away from what triggers those episodes. Your doctor might suggest lifestyle changes such as breathing exercises you can do if you begin to feel angry. Your doctor may also recommend you go outside for fresh air or a brisk walk to clear your mind. These things may help you control your anger and take your mind off of what caused it in the first place.

If you experience anger continuously for two weeks or more and it doesn’t seem to go away easily, you may need to try additional treatments. Your doctor may recommend seeing a mental health therapist. They can work with you on managing and understanding your anger. They can also help you manage depression.

If you’re experiencing depression, your doctor may prescribe medication. You may have to try several medications or dosages before finding a treatment that works for you. Be patient and don’t stop taking medication without first discussing it with your doctor.

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Outlook

Outlook

If you believe you have trouble controlling your anger or your depression is making your life difficult, don’t deal with it alone. Share your concerns with trusted friends and family, and your doctor. Practice stress-release exercises, and take all of your medications as your doctor has prescribed.

There is no cure for depression. But with the right tools and support, you can manage your symptoms.

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Next steps

Managing your depression and anger

In addition to following your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan, there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms.

Find someone to talk to: Talking to trusted friends or family members can help you better understand what you’re feeling. You may also prefer to talk to people you aren’t close with. There are many support groups available. Your doctor should be able to recommend one.

Add exercise into your daily routine: It can be difficult to feel motivated to exercise when you’re depressed, but exercise can help improve your mood. That’s because exercise helps your body release endorphins, a hormone that makes you temporarily feel good. Exercise can also improve your sleeping patterns.

Get enough sleep every night: Focus on sleeping seven to eight hours a night. Feeling well-rested can help improve your mood and motivation. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, talk to your doctor. They may need to adjust your medication or temporarily prescribe something to help you sleep.

Spend time doing things you enjoy: It’s important to make time for yourself. Plan activities that you enjoy, even if it’s something as simple as taking a walk or making time to read a book. Having something enjoyable to look forward to may also improve your mood.

Learn more: 9 ways to find motivation while depressed »

Depression is a medical condition. There are things you can do to help manage your symptoms, but it’s important that you also see a doctor.

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