Anger is a common emotion that’s only part of being human. It’s an intense emotion that rises quickly and the more you think of the trigger, the worse it gets. It’s fairly understandable to want to lash out immediately and jump into a fight if the perpetrator has said or done something that’s very hurtful to you. But if you find your blood boiling at the slightest of things, it may be possible that you’re secretly battling a mental disorder that currently affects more than 300 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organization – depression.1
Perpetual Anger Causes Depression
Let’s say someone made fun of you in a manner that was completely harmless but ended up hurting your feelings nonetheless. You would most likely react in one of two ways – either by getting upset and crying and isolating yourself from everyone for days on end or by getting angry and being nasty to the person who laughed at you every time you crossed paths. To most of us, the former response seems more likely to be a symptom of depression than the latter.
Depression often arises out of anxiety, which in turn, is caused by fear. Most people associate fear with being sad, despondent, and lonely, while anger is more commonly associated with being brave (which is the complete opposite of brave).
However, fear can also lead a person to react out of anger. Why did the joking upset you, even though in your heart you know it was just harmless fun? Because secretly, you fear being mocked at and not being taken seriously.
Reacting out of anger occasionally is normal. We are only human, after all, and it’s hard to have complete control over our emotions when they get so intense. It’s only when you don’t deal with your emotions the right way, you end up suppressing your feelings. This eventually leads to a state of perpetual irritation or anger which is certainly not healthy, and this is when it may be a sign of depression.
So if you’ve lost your temper at someone for making fun of you, but are able to go back to normal, either by sorting it out internally or with the person, you don’t have to worry about being depressed. However, if you withdraw into your shell for weeks at a stretch, avoid other people, and find yourself obsessing over the situation, depression may be taking over your emotions and your life.
Depression May Also Cause Perpetual Anger
The link between anger and depression is more like a “what came first – the chicken or the egg?” situation.
Being perpetually angry with your colleague for making fun of you and letting it affect the way you run your life is an example of constant anger making you feel depressed. In this case, constant anger becomes a symptom of depression.
However, there are also situations where depression can cause you to be perpetually angry. Why do elderly people, especially those suffering from an ailment react so violently with their younger counterparts? Probably because they’re depressed and tired of being unwell all the time and having to depend on others for the littlest of things. They fear that they will never get better and this what makes them react so angrily to everything and everyone else around them.
The Dangers Of Anger-Related Depression (Or Depression-Related Anger)
Anger and depression is a vicious cycle, just like sadness and depression.
For instance, a person whose feelings of depression arise from a fear of being abandoned repeatedly in the past will end up getting angry even with people who have no intentions of deserting them. Over time, they end up pushing all their loved ones away and this only worsens their depression.
Anxiety is something that we encounter almost on a daily basis and can be caused by multiple situations such as too much traffic (that could make you late for a meeting), a sudden deadline, or personal differences with your loved ones. Allowing yourself to react angrily each time you get anxious will only make you angrier and your depression more chronic. When this happens, it can end up disrupting not just your health and your mental wellbeing, but also your personal and professional life.
Dealing With Anger-Related Depression (Or Depression-Related Anger)
Anger that is caused by or results out of depression can be hard to curb and is not something that can be changed overnight.
Dealing with this involves one working on two separate issues:
- Learning to control one’s fear or anxiety
- Learning to control one’s anger
Controlling Fear And Anxiety Naturally
A lot of people turn to medication to help them deal with their emotions. This, however, is not always recommended because the body gets used to these drugs very quickly. Over time, you will need to up your dosage and this may result in extremely undesirable side effects. Also, medication can only offer a temporary fix because it refuses to fix the root cause of the problem. This is why it is best to stick to more natural methods to curb your emotions.
In order to control anxiety, one may try the following:
- Deep breathing exercises
All of these methods essentially work towards calming your brain down and preventing it from imagining the worst-case scenario that makes you panic, and in turn, react angrily.
Controlling Angry Emotions Naturally
On the other hand, one may apply one or more of the following methods to cope with one’s anger issues:
- Leaving the situation quickly: Reacting angrily to a stressful situation basically means you have the tendency to go into “fight” mode rather than “flight.” Getting yourself to do the latter by leaving a stressful situation (the trigger) quickly to get some head space can help you calm down so you can think and react more rationally.
- Journaling: When anger builds up, it can be hard to control one’s thoughts. Writing down your thoughts the moment you get angry can help you vent your feelings out without upsetting anyone or worsening the situation. This will also help you figure out what the root cause of your problem is, by tackling which you can conquer your anger, at least in that particular situation.
- Closing eyes and breathing slowly: Every time you’re angry, you need to take a step backward, not forward. To do this, close your eyes (unless you’re in a situation where you’re driving or walking on the road); this will shut out the visual that is triggering your anger. Next, breathe in and out slowly to control your heartbeat and bring down your blood pressure. Do this for a few minutes and you will instantly feel more level-headed.
- Anger management classes: In cases where your anger has become chronic to an extent where you can’t handle yourself anymore, you may consider going for professional help through anger management classes.