What is the link between depression and anger?

Anger as a Symptom of Depression

Depression-related anger can be a reaction to the perceived hopelessness of a situation or even frustration over recurring states of depression [source: MacManamy].

A problem that offers no effective solutions or positive outcomes is going to produce its fair share of frustration and anger. For similar reasons, anger is also a common stage of grief [source: Chakraburtty]. As is the case with depression, grief-induced anger is the result of a feeling of hopelessness and despair.

Sometimes, though, the depression-anger link can seem to work the other way around. Think of the common saying regarding depression: "Depression is anger turned inward." When you feel angry, that feeling is often derived from a sense of hurt, and an angry person may seek to pass that hurt on, or take drastic action to change the anger-inducing situation.

However, when it's externally directed, anger doesn't effect fundamental change in the perception of your situation. Instead, that anger may eventually be directed inward, toward a newfound object of hatred: yourself. At that point, self-pity can't be too far behind as you dwell on the inherent unfairness of life, or on the hopelessness of the situation.

Depression-related anger -- just like other signs associated with depression -- can diminish or even completely disappear by treating the underlying cause: depression. It may also be useful to learn some anger management techniques. Instead of acting out in anger in response to what seems like a hopeless situation, make a plan to change your situation.

A good first step is to speak with a professional counselor. There are other positive steps you can take, too: eating well, exercising, avoiding alcohol or drugs, and reaching out to family, friends or any other available network of social support.

Most importantly, view uncharacteristic anger as a potential warning sign of a greater underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

Keep reading for lots more information on anger and depression.

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  • Chakraburtty, Amal, M.D. "Grief and Depression." Mar. 1, 2010. (Jan. 20, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-grief
  • Friedman, Richard A., M.D. "Depression Defies the Rush to Find an Evolutionary Upside." The New York Times. Jan. 16, 2012. (Jan. 20, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/health/depression-defies-rush-to-find-evolutionary-upside.html?_r=1&ref=health
  • Johnson, Stephen, Ph.D. "When Depression Turns to Anger." Whole Life Times. Aug., 1998. (Jan. 20, 2012) http://www.menscenterlosangeles.com/articles/depressionanger.html
  • McCrary, Robert John, Ph.D. "Anger Management: A 'How-To' Guide." 1998. (Jan. 20, 2012) http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/bryan/webanger.htm
  • McManamy, John. "Anger." Jan. 6, 2011. (Jan. 20, 2012) http://www.mcmanweb.com/anger.html
  • Pelusi, Nando, Ph.D. "Anger, Pain, and Depression." May 17, 2006. (Jan. 20, 2012) http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200311/anger-pain-and-depression
  • Saisan, Joanna, M.S.W. "Depression Treatment: Therapy, Medication, and Lifestyle Changes That Can Help." Oct., 2011. (Jan. 20, 2012) http://helpguide.org/mental/treatment_strategies_depression.htm
  • Zieve, David, M.D., M.H.A. "Major Depression." Mar. 15, 2011. (Jan. 20, 2012) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000945.htm

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