Managing Bipolar Anger And Rage
By: Jessica Anderson
Updated January 12, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Sonya Bruner
Bipolar disorder can be hard to handle. When you also have unwanted anger and rage, it's even more challenging. These emotions can have a negative impact on your social life and self-esteem. They can even affect the lives of the people closest to you. Luckily, there are tools to help you manage these emotions, so you can enjoy a calmer life.
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Understanding Bipolar Types And Symptoms
According to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder (also known as Manic Depressive Disorder) is a mental illness that causes "unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks." There are four types of this disorder, and it can be categorized based on the highs (manias) and lows (depression) that the patient experiences. Understanding these different types and relevant symptoms can significantly impact your ability to manage the disorder.
- Bipolar I Disorder - Manic episodes last for at least one week (seven days) and can lead to severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention. The same cycle generally occurs during depressive episodes.
- Bipolar II Disorder - This type is known for depressive episodes and less severe manic episodes (hypomanic).
- Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia) - With this type, the patient presents with several hypomanic and depressive symptoms that can be mild or severe. It can last up to two years in adults and one year in children and adolescents.
- Related Disorders (Unspecified) -This is a mild Bipolar Disorder categorized by the same symptoms without the levels necessary for a diagnosis of Bipolar I, II, or Cyclothymia.
Bipolar Mania Vs. Depression
Bipolar disorder causes shifts between manic episodes and depressive episodes. Manic episodes include:
- Elevated elation
- High levels of energy
- Increased activity levels
- Fast speech
- Increased risk-taking
Depressive episodes include:
- Sad or down feelings
- Lower activity levels and energy
- Too much or too little sleep
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Overwhelming worry
- Lack of concentration
- Too much or too little eating
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
Bipolar Anger Outbursts
Anger and rage are common symptoms that often accompany bipolar disorder. These symptoms can be seen in both manic and depressive episodes. Furthermore, they're usually difficult to stop and often need to run their course once they begin. While these outbursts can affect you and the people around you, there are ways to handle them.
Tools For Living With Bipolar Disorder
Anger and rage are difficult emotions to experience, but there are a wide variety of ways to reduce your symptoms, so that you can be happier and healthier. You deserve to enjoy your days, and the tools below will help you do so.
If you want to reduce your anger, you'll need to think about past events to find out what triggers your emotions. It may also help to monitor your triggers over time. To do this effectively, you may want to keep a mood journal or download a mood app that helps you track your ups and downs throughout the day.
Your emotions and body are connected, so it's possible that physical changes like exhaustion or hunger often prompt emotional outbursts. After a few days of tracking your mood, you might notice that you typically struggle right before lunch. Then, you'll know that eating more often can improve your mood overall. With each trigger you identify, you'll have an opportunity to make things better.
Take A Timeout
When anger and rage appear, you may feel like you disappear. It's important to take a timeout when these symptoms arise, so you have the time and space to calm down. During this time alone, you can do something that helps you relax. Exercise, read, or simply breathe. When you feel better, spend a few minutes reflecting on what caused these emotions so that you can avoid that trigger in the future.
Keep A Journal
Journaling works in two ways. It reduces stress, which is a common trigger, and it allows you to identify triggers at a deeper level. You can write in a notebook or a special journal, or you can even take notes on your phone. The way you write is not important because it's the information and the release that will help you.
Talk To Your Doctor About Your Medicine
Some medications can increase the irritability and anger that often come with bipolar disorder. If you believe your bipolar anger and rage may be linked to your medication, consult your physician right away. That said, adjusting medication takes time, and you should never stop (or start) medication without speaking to your doctor first. It's also important to keep in mind that taking your medication regularly is one of the best ways to diminish challenging emotions.
Lean On Others
Although friends and family will likely support you through the highs and lows of living with bipolar disorder, they may have a hard time understanding what you're going through. That's why support groups are a wonderful resource. Facebook has several bipolar support groups that are "Hidden," which means o they only allow members to post and read responses. These groups are great places to both vent and gain advice. You can also look into local support resources either in-person or online.
Request Patience From Family
Bipolar disorder doesn't only affect the person with the disorder; it also affects the people around them. If your family and friends want to know how they can help you, ask them for patience. Bipolar anger and rage are part of the condition, and they are not your fault. It's best to be aware of and learn about the condition if you and your loved ones want to treat it in a positive way. Make sure your family knows that the anger and rage are not personal; they're just symptoms.
Therapy For Bipolar Disorder
Participating in talk therapy can make a significant difference in your life because it will help you learn to handle the challenges of bipolar disorder. If you're thinking about therapy and you're not sure where to start, consider an online option. Research suggests that online therapy is an effective form of treatment for patients living with mood disorders. This study found that internet-delivered treatment based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could be an effective way to treat bipolar symptoms in some patients.
BetterHelp has more than 4,000 licensed counselors who can meet with you anytime and anywhere. You won't need to worry about finding time for an appointment in your busy schedule or getting stuck in traffic on your way to an office across town. Instead, you can talk to your counselor from the comfort of your own home or wherever you have internet access. See below for reviews of BetterHelp counselors who have worked with people in similar situations.
“I have been suffering from bipolar disorder for more than 15 years. I have spent three weeks so far counseling with Amie. Amie really listens and encourages you to take the next steps in your own development. The worksheets she sends provoke sincere sharing, and they are very instructional. At the start, she recommended I join a peer support group, and I did, and it was really helpful. I would recommend Amie to anyone who cares about their treatment and want an attentive and responsible therapist.”
“Bailey is grounded, understanding, genuine, empathetic, and experienced in a variety of different counseling and therapy practices. I feel like she meets me at my level, gives honest and helpful feedback, is reliable, and has been more effective in her methods of teaching me viable coping mechanisms that aid in me living successfully with anxiety, bipolar depression, and PTSD. In fact, her sessions have helped me more than any other professionals have or other methods I’ve tried including, psychiatrists, nurses, naturopathic doctors, homeopathic doctors, other therapists, and medications. She’s able to give me weekly feedback in real time that I can use to address situations as they come up. I highly recommend Bailey for so many reasons, but my number one reason besides how knowledgeable she is, is her ability to meet me on my level. I feel like we’re equals in conversation instead of professional and patient. This facilitates my feeling able to talk about anything and everything with her without feeling judged. Because of this we’ve been able to tackle parts of my psyche that I have held back from other mental health professionals. I always look forward to our sessions. Even when they are difficult, they are effective. I feel like I’ve made more progress in my overall emotional and mental health with Bailey in a handful of months than I had in several years combined prior to this. Thank you, Bailey. You chose the right professional to help others, and I’m very grateful that I’ve found you as my counselor.”
The symptoms of anger and rage that often accompany bipolar disorder can take a significant toll on your quality of life. If you're struggling with these emotions, you're not alone, and help is available in many forms. You can and will enjoy a happier, healthier life with the right tools and support. Take the first step today.
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