We often hear people being referred to as having anger issues. The presumption when hearing that is that they are individuals with poor control of their emotions and a tendency for lashing out at others. We may think that there could be underlying issues that are causing these anger problems and that these individuals need help, but what we don’t often think is that the anger problems could be connected to depression.
While the relationship between anger and depression is well known among mental health professionals, most people don’t know there is a connection. The truth is that in many cases it is depression that is driving the anger especially in men, and without recognizing and addressing both you are not likely to change either.
Anger itself is a perfectly normal emotion. We have all been angry at different points about different things. People who struggle with anger, however, go beyond the typical angry reactions and carry things to extremes.
Lashing out over small inequities, feeling as though things are always unfair and you are the victim, or constant sarcasm and mean-spirited behavior are all examples of anger problems. People who struggle with anger issues may feel constantly overwhelmed by life and have trouble trying to manage things on a day-to-day basis.
Although there are many symptoms of depression, the most commonly thought of are the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. People who are suffering with depression often describe everything as feeling grey. They are able to find joy in very few aspects of life and feel they provide nothing of use to anyone around them. Many can get through daily tasks, but doing so is often a struggle.
Depression is something that can be difficult to recognize in someone else or even in yourself. It can manifest slowly and can be hidden by the person suffering.
So how are anger and depression related?
Living with depression is difficult. For the person suffering there are few moments of happiness or even satisfaction then there are periods of loneliness and isolation. Living with these feelings can create a constant state of dissatisfaction and irritability. The additional feeling that there is something different or wrong can create even more challenges with self-esteem.
A person dealing with depression will look at the world through a negative cloud. They are more apt to relate to and focus on the things that are upsetting than anything that is positive. This being the case, getting upset and angry can be a more natural response than responding to things in any other way.
Because of the underlying feelings associated with depression, responding to frustrating or difficult situations can be tricky for the sufferer. They are might view things as having happened “to them,” or people being out to “get them,” or even feeling so isolated that no one else could possibly understand how bad things are. This means that the anger response may be more a reflection of their personal circumstances and self-view and as a result be exaggerated and disproportionate to the triggering event.
People who are depressed may not even know that their anger is an issue. They may feel that, given the state of their own life, their behavior is perfectly reasonable and justified. There are many inherent dangers in this mindset, chief amongst them being the harm being done to themselves or others.
If you are a person, or know a person, particularly a man, dealing with anger problems, it may be worth considering the possibility of depression being a factor. If it is, then help will probably be necessary. Working through the causes of these problems alone is, at a minimum, difficult. Doing it effectively and learning ways to cope and recover usually takes support and guidance. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.
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