How To Manage Irritable Depression

Reviewed by Tanya Harrell, PhD, LPC, NCC

Published 06/24/2022

Depression is a clinical term used to refer to one of the common mental health illnesses. According to the World Health Organization, it's seen to be a mental disorder globally affected more than 264 million people— both young and old. Also, it's claimed that it plays a leading role as a contributor or the cause of every illness or disability, respectively, that people experience in the present world. The National Institute of Mental Health shows that you may have depression if you experience for 2 or more weeks symptoms such as fatigue,  headaches, difficulty concentrating/memory problems, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, gastrointestinal problems, problems with appetite or weight, or feelings of guilt /worthlessness/ hopelessness. There are different ways to find out if you have depression— click here for one of these ways to understand more about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

Do you know that depression can have some overwhelming effects on your mental health? Yes, it can. Its manifestations can be seen through some symptoms and often result in persistent emotional challenges such as irritability, sadness, and even fatigue. From clear observation and clinical confirmation, stronger feelings of irritability happen to be among the early signals of depression or its deterioration. So, when you begin to have a sense of this, you should take the proper steps to deal with your condition before it begins to interfere with your interpersonal relationship and your life in general.

What Is Irritable Depression?

Technically, Irritable depression is associated with a mental health condition experienced when sadness begins to feel like anger. It can affect virtually everybody, especially children and young adults. When you experience irritable depression, irritability alone can result in the diagnosis of depression.

What Is Irritability?

You don't need a mental health professional to tell you that you are irritable or someone around you is. Irritability is a vivid reaction in children and adults. It could lead to frustration or strange behavior in children— most times, they experience irritability when they are sick (such as stomach aches or ear infections) or tired. Some common irritability exhibitions may be associated with inpatient signs in adults, giving rooms to small annoyances to take an undue effect, expressing sharp words, anger, or frustration.

Irritability is observed to be an emotion commonly experienced alongside substance abuse, risk-taking, and aggressive feelings. In other words, it's succinctly seen as a feeling of agitation. Here, agitation is seen to be a "more severe irritability form." Irritability can be experienced as a response to stressful situations. When it becomes persistent, it can be diagnosed as a physical or mental disorder such as low blood sugar, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, or depression.

What Are The Symptoms Of Irritability?

Sometimes, your feelings of irritability may be preceded or accompanied by some physical and emotional symptoms. These may include:

  • Fast breathing
  • Racing heart
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Anger

Other symptoms that may be seen if irritability is caused by a hormonal imbalance may include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Headache
  • Hot flashes

What Are The Causes Of Irritability?

Several things can lead to irritability. Some of these may include:

  • Psychological Causes: These may include autism, anxiety, and stress.
  • Mental health Disorders: These may include (but are not limited to) depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
  • Physical Causes: These may include toothaches, ear infections, sleep deprivation, low blood sugar, including some diabetes-related symptoms, flu, and certain respiratory disorders.

  • Medical Conditions Responsible For Hormonal Changes That Can Lead To Irritability: These may include hyperthyroidism, menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome (POS), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and diabetes.
  • As side effects of some of the medications you use. It can also be caused by caffeine/nicotine withdrawal, alcoholism, or drug use.

How To Diagnose The Cause Of Irritability

Irritability can seriously interfere with your day-to-day activities (it can even make you behave in an unhealthy way in a relationship). Therefore, if you discover that you often feel irritable and can't identify the causes, you must see your doctor. Mental health professionals can help identify potential causes that will help recommend the best treatment options for the proper management of your mood.

Your doctor may ask about your medical history (including medications), history of psychological conditions, what may lead to stress in your life, your lifestyle habits (the use of substances and sleeping patterns). Your medical history and symptoms require tests; your doctor may run tests such as urine or blood analyses. These tests have significant roles to play in knowing about the state of your health. For instance, the glucose level in your urine or blood may indicate that you have diabetes. Also, the level of hormones present in your blood may indicate a hormonal imbalance. For evaluation, you may be referred to a mental health professional.

Why Does Depression Make You Feel Irritable?

Sometimes, you may find yourself feeling more emotions than you should have normally felt. These emotions might have been nurtured gradually by you concerning the daily engagements with people around you. Actually, it may not look like anything serious at first. For instance, you may get pissed off by little issues such as your partner forgetting to do some specific chores. But as time goes on, you will discover that it becomes worse— you will begin to experience distress, which may lead you to lash out more than before to your partner.

It's shown that when the feelings of anger and irritability become persistent, it can be associated with depression. Depression is seen to be a mood disorder that is characteristically defined by obsessive feelings of pessimism and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Irritability is a common symptom of depression, even though people usually talk of sadness when they speak of depression.

Irritability is experienced when you cannot control your temper, resulting in angry outbursts or frustration. Depression increases your levels of frustration and decreases the levels of your patience. Also, depression symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, sleeping problems, and appetite changes may be major contributors to why you experience stress and irritability.

Furthermore, some of the signs of irritability that relate to or causes by depression include Impatience, lashing out at other (even people you love), feeling easily angered by trivial things, passives aggressive behavior or speech, and erratic behavior (hanging up on a friend on the phone or driving aggressively).

How To Manage Irritable Depression

Some specific methods work for the treatment of depression. When battling with irritable depression, some of these methods are applicable and work perfectly. However, the way certain methods work differs from person to person. Therefore, you must find the best treatment options that suit your lifestyle and personality. Managing mental health challenges may take time most times. Consequently, you may feel discouraged, but you must know that your condition will improve with persistence. The following are ways you can manage irritable depression:

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness is one of the effective methods used in managing mental health challenges in general. Irritable depression, as one is never an exception. Mindfulness helps you become aware of your bodily sensations (in the present moment). For irritable depression, mindfulness may help you feel the heat up of your skin or notice the pick-up pace of your breath when you feel irritable or anxious. Recognition of these bodily sensations will help you adjust to feel relax or calm.
  • Talk With Trusted Friends And Family Members: Irritability is a compassionate mental health challenge that may require the help and support of those around you. Your trusted friends and family members may offer you help if you begin to feel hot-heated. You shouldn't disallow statements such as "that's too much"— it has a great effect on your mood—it will help you know that you're going too far emotionally and can help you apologize when you hurt someone when you feel irritable.
  • Lifestyle Changes: There are healthy habits that can be recommended by your doctor for healthy living. These may include your diet, exercise routine, and sleep habits.

Eating a balanced diet can influence your health physically and mentally. To manage irritable depression effectively, you should try to reduce your processed food (they can cause depression relapse). You should take rich foods such as vegetables and fruit regularly. They help enhance your mood.  Also, there are habits you must avoid. These include the intake of alcohol, drugs, sugar, and caffeine. Relying on substances can lead to a decline in the state of your health. If you sense that your condition is triggered by drug withdrawal, the use of alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine, talk therapy, and medication can be recommended for you.

Exercise is naturally good for both your physical and mental health. When battling with a mental health condition (such as depression), exercise helps relieve the symptoms and boost your mood. Taking a few minutes every day to exercise your body to stay physically and emotionally fit is worth it.

Getting enough sleep each day can help improve your condition. However, sleep deprivation can affect your mood and make you feel irritable the next day. This is not good for your mental health. For instance, children may get emotional or irritable if they don't get good quality sleep. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenagers are expected to get 8-10 hours of sleep per night, while babies 16 hours.

  • Think Before You Act: Positive thoughts can be constructive in relieving the levels of your depression. When dealing with stressful situations, you should try to stay calm to think about the right way to handle the situation. Give your actions deep thought about the effect they may eventually have. Sometimes, acting on your angry or irritable feelings can cause more harm than good.

Anger or irritability is one of the common natural emotions that people experience. You can't eliminate it. The only thing you can do is learn how you can manage it properly so that it won't affect you or those around you.

  • Talk To A Mental Health Professional: When dealing with mental health conditions, you should follow your doctor's given directives. After diagnoses, your doctor may be directed to see a licensed therapist or counselor for counseling. Irritable depression is treatable, but it's better to take up the treatment program as early as possible. A licensed therapist knows the appropriate way to support you to get better.

Besides, it's also very important that you seek immediate treatment or call for help if you have suicidal thoughts because your feeling of irritable depression is severe or thoughts of harming those around you when you feel extremely angry.

  • Medications: Some times, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist for the right prescription after diagnosis. Ensure you don't take any medication without your doctor knowing about it. And if any is given, notify your doctor before stopping. Medications such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help manage irritable depression. Sometimes, medications and talk therapy are combined to manage irritable depression.

  • Join A Support Group: A support group is another certain way to help manage your condition. To get the right one for your condition, you can talk to your Therapist. Support groups are groups crested to help those experiencing mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, or stress. Joining this group has many benefits attached— primarily, it allows you to meet people with a similar condition. This may give you the confidence to talk about your condition. Working together within the group can help with rapid improvement.
  • Keep Track Of Triggers Or Mood Changes: This may also be effective to some extent. It will help you know what can lead to your condition and how you can avoid them. You can do this through the use of a journal.