Why Am I So Angry? Depression And Its Link To Anger
Updated December 17, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kelly L. Burns, MA, LPC, ATR-P
How Depression Makes Us Angry
As Sigmund Freud used to say, "Depression is anger turned inwards." Most of us are familiar with the common symptoms of depression, such as feelings of sadness, fatigue, lack of interest in normally enjoyable activities, and general feelings of loneliness. But what about feelings not commonly associated with depression? Several studies have found that depression, anger, anxiety, and curiosity are all linked together, with more studies on the topics emerging.
Many of us don’t think about anger being just as much a valid reaction to depression as sadness or lack of interest. This reaction dates back to caveman times – the "fight or flight" instinct is to blame, in part. The reflex malfunctions as a result of the chemical imbalance in our brains and causes us at times to have outbursts of anger, sometimes at even the simplest things.
Additionally, especially for those who have been dealing with depression for months or years, it can become quite challenging to cope over time. This can certainly lead to general feelings of dissatisfaction or anger.
Anger and depression are strangers to none. While it has been observed that many teenagers who experience depression often display rage and irritability, this has also been reported by adult women and men as well.
Many things might make someone more susceptible to depression and anger. Some examples include financial stress, the recent loss of a loved one, previous trauma or abuse, or substance abuse.
Additionally, some people who never experienced these troubles in their childhood or their current life can struggle with depression and anger alike. This is partially because depression can be genetic, as well.
It can be easy, when you are struggling with your own battle, to forget that depression is a widespread epidemic, and a valid thing to feel. These feelings can be intensified by depression's way of making a person feel isolated or lonely. The fact is that many people from all walks of life struggle with it, and we are never entirely alone.
Depression doesn't discriminate – old or young, male or female, rich or poor.
The Inner Voice
When we are angry, depression can give a voice to inner thoughts that can be either helpful or harmful. There is tremendous potential for depression to become an unexpected guide toward personal growth and a greater sense of self, but we must first learn how to navigate its tricky, often misleading voice.
This inner voice speaks to us throughout our regular day-to-day events, and in some cases can take deep, unwanted root in our heads. Many people who struggle with a negative inner voice describe these thoughts as leaving them feeling depressed, angry, and hopeless.
This inner voice may convince a person that they are worthless, unwanted, or otherwise undesirable. This is your disorder speaking, and it is important to remember that you are worth the time you spend on yourself and that other people spend on you! You are worth devoting time and love into.
When you feel angry, depression doesn't have to take over. The inner voice can also uplift you and make for a more positive outcome. When you think negative thoughts begin to come on, it can be helpful to speak positive words and ideas into yourself. Remind yourself and your inner voice that you are strong, powerful, and worthwhile.
It can be challenging to deal with this inner voice, and some days will be harder than others. If you can remember to maintain as positive an outlook as possible, and remember that every single occurrence and circumstance has good in it if you can only allow yourself to see it, then you will do many favors for yourself in this journey of freedom from anger and depression!
Depression Makes Us Different
When depression is at its peak, we may not be participating in the things we normally love to do. Lack of sleep, irritability, and general feelings of disinterest can rob us of the joy that activities usually bring us.
Things that used to be exciting and fun such as going on dates with your partner, hanging out with your friends, or going out to dinner may have a grey, rainy cloud over them. It can be challenging to do even the most simple of tasks, such as grocery shopping, when depression has us in its grasp.
This works to aggravate our anger in a couple of ways. First, it can start to get very aggravating to continue to have to decline when you are invited out, and you may begin to grow a sense of disappointment or even hatred toward yourself because of it. This can cause you to be feel chaotic inside, which will more than likely lead to an outburst as these feelings cannot be held inside forever.
Secondly, if you let this go on too long, you may look back and see how much you missed while you were buried in your depression. This can make your current problem even worse, especially if significant milestones such as a child's graduation or birthday, or a family member's wedding are missed. This can lead to extreme animosity toward your condition and yourself.
The best thing to do is to focus on the future. There’s a wise saying that if you're always looking in the rearview mirror, you are bound to crash. When you miss out on things that you regret, use that as fuel to create new goals for your future. Start small, and build from there. “Tomorrow I’ll call my friend,” or “I’m going to start cooking three homemade meals per week,” if those are things that interest you, and then build up to making concrete plans like going out.
Use your negative feelings as a reminder of what depression has taken away from you. Ultimately, you are the master of your own life. You may battle with things that are out of your control, but at the end of the day, you can take charge of your own future.
2 Types of Anger
In order to understand the basics of how anger is linked to depression, angry emotions can be categorized into two sections: adaptive & non-adaptive.
Adaptive anger is what many professionals consider the "positive" type. This kind of anger encourages us to reach inside to do what we can to conquer the anger. Some examples of this type of behavior may be doing something we enjoy or relaxing, such as doing breathing exercises or yoga.
This type of anger stands up to the inner voice, empowering us to become better versions of ourselves.
Comparatively, non-adaptive anger is detrimental to our mental health. This type of anger is often turned inward on ourselves, causing damaging thoughts against ourselves. This can leave feelings of decreased self-esteem or self-loathing. It’s the type of anger that focuses on itself and leaves you feeling worse than before.
This type of anger is not productive, and many therapists agree that a treatment plan to combat this is most effective in the mental healing of people who struggle with the problem.
When Anger Disguises Itself
It is not uncommon that many who struggle with anger problems later find out their issue was actually rooted in depression all along. When we are angry, depression can often be the cause.
If you find yourself increasingly becoming angry, depression may be the culprit. The way that you choose to deal with the raging emotions you feel is often determined by a number of factors such as your upbringing, past traumatic or positive events that happened to you, religion, and other factors.
Many people don't realize they are internalizing all of the typical feelings of depression, such as sadness and sluggishness. When left to fester for any amount of time, large or small, these feelings often find a way to bubble over and eventually explode, which could potentially cause outbursts of anger.
In order to avoid this, remember to practice keeping in touch with your inner emotions. If you can recognize the negative feelings before they escalate into something worse, you can do much more to combat them before more damage is done.
Depression Is Frustrating
Having a mental illness is undoubtedly frustrating. The mental load that it requires to manage this condition could make even the most level-headed person angry. Depression wears many masks, and at times, it can feel overwhelming.
Many medical professionals stress the importance of sleep and exercise to keep a healthy body and mind, but when depression strikes, these are often at the bottom of our to-do list.
It is certain that feeling all of the emotions that depression brings along is not something anyone would willingly sign up for. It can make your days seem short and your nights long and restless. You might not be sleeping as well as you would like, and you could also be experiencing nightmares when you are able to sleep.
Exercise releases many positive hormones and helps you to eliminate negative feelings in many ways. If you are angry, depression may tempt you to stay away from physical activities that you know would be helpful. You can certainly be your own worst enemy when it comes to taking care of yourself during a depressive episode.
Remember that, especially when you are feeling your lowest, how important it is to continue to do the things that will make you feel better. It may be tough to peel yourself off of the couch and take a walk outside, but you will very likely find yourself in higher spirits once you're done.
If you can learn to let go of the anger, depression might just follow.
Even the most dedicated or in-tune person sometimes can't escape from the grip of feeling angry. Depression has a way of dragging us down that makes it very difficult to come back to the bright side.
If you feel stuck or otherwise lost and confused, you could benefit from getting in touch with a licensed counselor or therapist. Online therapy has been found to be just as effective as in-person therapy, with 94% of BetterHelp users reporting preferring it to face-to-face therapy and 70% of clients working through depression experiencing a notable reduction in symptoms, with 98% of total clients working through a range of issues making significant progress.
Online therapy has the benefit of being accessible anytime, anywhere – you’ll just need an internet connection to get started. BetterHelp’s licensed therapists offer many different modes of holding sessions, including video chatting, texting, phone calls, and others. This means you won’t need to devote time or energy to physically attending a session, and instead can do so from the comfort of your own home if you wish. Additionally, online therapy tends to be cheaper than in-person counseling, as the therapists don’t need to pay to rent out an office space or building. Keep reading to find reviews of some of our board-certified therapists from people working through anger and depression.
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