anger and depression

Is Anger a Symptom of Depression?

Angry outbursts happen even when we try to stay calm. We all know how difficult it can to try and manage anger. A persistent problem with irritability and angry outbursts, even in the face of small triggers, may be more than just a bad mood or a personality problem. It may be a symptom of clinical depression.

According to data provided by the World Health Organization for 2017, there are approximately 322 million people in the world living with depression. There are different rates of depression in different age groups. In older adults ages 55-74 greater than 5% of people are living with depression. That would be 15 million older adults in the US alone. Even with such large numbers of people living with depression fewer than 50% of those struggling receive the treatment they need. There are many factors impacting the level of treatment including misconceptions of depression, stigma of mental illness and access to care. Treatment however may be lifesaving. A diagnosis of severe clinical depression can lead to serious consequences, including death by suicide. Close to 800 000 people die every year from suicide, and suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.

Many people believe that someone with depression must only feel sadness or hopelessness. They often know the signs of depression include lack of interest in normal activities, problems with sleep, and thoughts of suicide. (If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the nearest emergency room or the hotline at 1-800-273-8255.)

While many patients experience the disorder in this way, anger and depression are also linked. In fact, some research suggests that when someone has depression and anger outbursts, the disorder is likely to be more intense than those without irritability.

If you believe that you or someone you know may suffer from depression with anger, be sure to learn how the two interact and what treatment options are available.

Why is Anger a Symptom of Depression?

When people are struggling with clinical depression, they often have critical inner voices that can be dismissive, demeaning and frankly abusive. Without treatment, these inner monologues can worsen depression. This constant negative self-talk can lead to frustration and anger that can result in outbursts.

Extreme sadness and fear are also symptoms of depressive illness. People with clinical depression become frustrated. Extreme frustration can become an inability to engage in any activity. Alternately, frustration can cause increased agitation with irritability and anger. For those who care for the person struggling with clinical depression angry outburst can seem to have no particular cause.

How to Help Someone With Anger Outbursts Who’s Suffering From Depression?

If you live with depression and have bouts of irritability or anger, you must know that help is available. You do not have to live with these difficult and overwhelming symptoms. You may need just one or a combination of treatment options to help you heal.


Therapists at LifeStance Health facilities can use effective methods like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to treat the underlying depression and the anger it causes.


In some cases, patients need antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication to heal. Psychiatrists can help you find the right type and dosage of medication.

Group Therapy

Anger management groups and others like them can help you see that you are not alone. Participants help one another find healthy ways of dealing with anger and depression.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

There are other effective treatments for clinical depression as well. For those unable to take or unresponsive to medications, TMS can be an appropriate treatment option. TMS is a non-invasive, safe technique for treating certain types of depression. TMS is available at several LifeStance Health locations.

If you need help dealing with anger and depression before you can see a professional, try these techniques:

  • Ask yourself what you’re really mad about? Is it the small trigger or your inner critic?
  • Walk away from triggering situations and process your feelings somewhere safe.
  • Find ways to let out anger without hurting others. You can hit a punching bag, scream into a pillow, or write a letter you never send.
  • Use mindfulness techniques like meditation to calm yourself.
  • Vent to a trusted friend or loved one.

Angry outbursts may be a symptom of clinical depression or other psychiatric disorders. Contact LifeStance Health to see how we can help.

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