“No doubt about it, Sarah. You are clinically depressed. And those tremors and flashes that you’ve been experiencing, those are brought about by your anxiety. Yes, you have panic anxiety, as well. I’d call my psychiatrist partner right now to come here, with your consent of course, so that she could prescribe you an antidepressant. I think you need it.” That’s what my psychologist said to me eight months ago when my sister brought me for an assessment. It was all a blur. I may have heard them saying words like online therapy, counseling, depression, panic, and all those medical terms. When she said antidepressant, I just went blank.
I often talk about depression to other people, and most of them would enumerate the signs and symptoms that they all feel – loneliness, sadness, low self-confidence, lack of enthusiasm to live, erratic sleep patterns, no or too much appetite, and suicidal thoughts. Their family members would attest to seeing these symptoms inside and outside of their homes. “When you find yourself spending more than you can afford, drinking or using drugs often, making knee-jerk relationship choices, or having overblown reactions to others, it could be a sign of deeper problems,” says Ryan Howes, PhD. These are some of the most common manifestations of depression.
However, there are some individuals diagnosed with depression who are very irritable and have sudden bursts of anger or deep-seated feeling of rage within them. It seems that they are angry with anything and everything about their life. Their co-workers trigger their mood swings, their children piss them off quicker than usual, and even their friends provoke a temper.
So how are irritability and anger associated with depression? Are they connected in some way?
Depression And Anger
Some psychologists would say that depression is ‘anger turned inward.’ But when that deep-seated anger manages to lurk outward, it is highly likely that a more heightened kind of reaction is seen, especially when depression is accompanied with rage. “Uncontrollable sadness, anger, or hopelessness may be signs of a mental health issue that can improve with treatment,” according to David Sack, M.D.
Perhaps it would be more helpful if we do not think of depression as a mental illness or a complex mood disorder, but to look at it as a loss of reasonable control of one’s emotions. A group of researchers summarized their findings on the relationship between depression and anger:
“Evidence has shown that there is a close connection between depression and anger for both the normal and the patient groups. The normal person showed less anger and irritability than the patient diagnosed with depression. The patient also presented with less suppression and control of his anger. This outcome indicates that depression theories are explaining that arrested defenses of the fight (anger) and flight (feeling of being trapped) may be vital components of depression.
“On the other hand, it is also recognized that people who are depressed also show more anger, although residual symptoms of frustration and anger seen in the treatment phase might be associated with poor therapeutic results. Depressed individuals also show more hostility than normal individuals.”
Therefore, depressed people are more likely to go through irritability and anger issues in ways that others would not understand. Also, some signs and symptoms of depression may be due to other factors, including environment, culture, and upbringing.
Depression And Negative Emotions
As researchers continue to explore the link between depression and anger. They did a study on 90 depressed individuals (60 men and 30 women) and gave them a test to evaluate their negative emotions (depression, anger, irritability) and how efficiently they can handle them.
The results of the study revealed that feelings of rage and depression are connected through the role of controlling or regulating emotions and anger rumination. According to John M. Grohol, PsyD, “Some people with depression become more irritable and angry with virtually everyone and everything in their life.” This means that people have the likelihood to manifest irritable or angry signs in depression if they are the type who contemplate on past situations when they were angry, or if they have trouble handling their emotions. Those who are quick-tempered, for example, would be more prone to express their depression through their anger.
Treatment For Depression Through Anger
Since this type of depressive disorder is centered on two components – rumination and emotion regulation – the said components should primarily be treated. Rumination somehow triggers the depression to come back. This makes psychotherapy the appropriate choice of treatment.
One form of psychotherapy that can be utilized is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a customized form of psychotherapy that integrates mindfulness techniques like meditation and breathing. MBCT practitioners teach patients how to free themselves from negative behavioral patterns that cause them to spiral downward into a more severe depressed state. They also use these on people who are on the brink of relapsing.
Emotion regulation can be helpful in decreasing feelings of irritability and rage in depression. The fundamental strategies used in emotional regulation include:
- Reappraising the situation. The person is allowed to think about the feeling or circumstance that is causing him to be angry or more depressed.
- The person is taught and encouraged to prevent expressing his emotions outwardly but to control them and experience them in the inside.
- He then attempts to accept the emotions as they feel them internally and being conscious and making sure not to act on those emotions.
Anger does isolate and damage a person’s relationships, more so if he is already depressed and frustrated. More effort must be made on increasing awareness on how these negative emotions play in depression.
Ultimately, the key to fully comprehending the concept of depression is to acknowledge that it is an intricate illness that presents itself in varying ways. Some people may hide their depression, and some may be so blunt and emotional to show them irritability and anger. This is why any form of depression – whether it is simple or complicated – needs our attention and help.
Some people I know discouraged me when I told them I wanted to try hypnotherapy to see if it could help with my depression. “The overall goal of hypnotherapy is to create a relaxed but conscious state where individuals feel comfortable enough to discuss their circumstances without becoming overly anxious or emotional,” according to Wendi Friesen, CHT, a certified clinical hypnotherapist – I read about it online. Each has different opinions about the process. I searched online for reviews and found out that some find it effective, but others not. Out of curiosity, I looked for a hypnotherapist and tried it to see what it can do for me.
I found myself sitting in that room, waiting for the secretary at the office of the hypnotherapist to call my name. I was clutching onto my bag when I overheard the woman beside me talked about how she had tried hypnotherapy once right at her home. She really felt good and relaxed after that, so she decided to come over. Hearing her story gave me hope.
Like Any Treatment, There’s A Danger Too
I actually have no idea what hypnotherapy was aside from what I read on google. Before the session starts, the therapist talked to me about possible dangers, like the conception of false memories and a feeling of distress. “Hypnotherapy appears to work best when used with other forms of treatment,” says Steve G. Kopp, a licensed mental health counselor and marriage and family therapist.
Hypnosis can be an assistive therapy to make other forms of treatment more effective. With hypnosis, your mind and body can be in that area of tranquility. But to be in that moment, you got to visit the past to find what causes you to be depressed and addressed that.
Depression Can Bring You In And Out Of That Place Of Chaos
Hearing what hypnosis is from the therapist made me think that negative emotions like depression could also bring the mind and body into that peaceful state. It was the world that used to be my own. Only, it was taken away, replaced by nothing but its opposite, a place of chaos.
During the session, we visited the past. It felt like there’s no way out in this world of loneliness I was trapped in. I didn’t want to move because it makes no sense to do so. Fighting hard to survive makes me feel like just burying myself more in-depth into the pit.
The depression I was in made me feel numb. That to stay still and do nothing is the best thing to do. I felt like I have no strength to escape from that moment. Being disconnected from reality is exactly how I felt at that moment.
Brings In More Agony
“Hypnosis isn’t something that can make you do something against your will,” explains certified clinical hypnotist Joanne Ferdman of Theta Healing Arts in Huntington, New York, but hypnotherapy dragged me down the memory lane of pain. It made me get in touch again with the past I’m trying to forget. It was really traumatizing. But therapist said that’s part of the process. They hope that if that repressed memory is faced and tackled, it could result in better mental health, only in a harrowing and traumatizing process.
After the session, the therapist talked me into realizing that there is nothing more I can do to change the past. And I have to move on. He hopes that I would heal and will start to make changes after the realization.
But because the process brings in more agony, it left me more depressed (worse situation) than I was before the treatment began. I can’t take my mind off the painful things that had happened. I just find it hard to focus on the perspective of what is right.
That was my experience with hypnotherapy. I found my answer, and I’m a bit discouraged about doing it again. It wasn’t able to take away my depression, even disabled me more from functioning normally. Maybe for some, they find it useful.
Now, I got to go back to doing clinical tests, medications, and CBT again. My present doctor and therapist encouraged me to go back to a healthier lifestyle, do more social and physical activities, manage my stress, and if things become unmanageable, time to visit my therapist.
I’m not saying that hypnotherapy is a hoax. It’s just that I think it’s not for everybody. Just like any form of treatment, it doesn’t fit all. It may work for some, but unfortunately, not for me. It may have been able to make me feel relaxed for a moment, but was not able to target my depression.
Clinical depression is comparable to a thief – it can steal your happiness and sanity the moment you relax your guards. Also called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), it affected over 16 million of citizens in the United States in 2015. The fact that it accounts for 6.7% of an entire country’s populace makes it the most debilitating mental disease on land – and this is true, as Dr. Jamie Long said in his website, “Depression can feel like you’re at war with your mind and body. You can feel sluggish, overly negative, and like there is no joy in life.”
The medical society deserves much respect for being able to diagnose health conditions, especially the various types of depression. They continuously develop treatments as well in the hopes of helping patients get rid of their diseases. Despite that, scientists have a long way to go because the antidepressants may bring side effects that’ll make matters worse (i.e., drug dependency). “If the woman is taking medication for the depressive symptoms it may lose effectiveness for whatever reason at several months out, so it wouldn’t necessarily be unheard of for a relapse to occur several months after the initial PPD episode,” says Jean Kim, M.D.
In case you’d much rather fight depression holistically than medically, you may find a way from the ideas below.
Do you have depression?
“People often don’t realize that depression isn’t just one thing. It can have different causes and presentations. Some people look sad, others are more irritable, some withdraw, and others seem restless.” according to Lisa Moses, PsyD.
When you ask people that question, not many can honestly answer “yes” or “no.” Call it being naïve or just in denial, but mostly it’s because they don’t want to believe they have such a mental disorder.
A good ol’ diagnosis from the doctor can tell you if you have depression. In case you wish to break out of this ordeal without medical help, though, look for these signs in yourself.
Depression is a disease that millions of people suffer from around the world. However, statistics may be a little inaccurate because many can’t speak up about it and are silently dealing with it.
You’ll understand them better if you put yourself in their shoes. The stigma thrown at people with mental disorder, especially depression, is a total pain to handle. Others, on the contrary, just won’t accept that they have this illness for fear of embarrassing themselves or their loved ones.
If you don’t want anybody to know that you have the disorder or you refuse to see a doctor for it, then perhaps you should try to heal yourself at least. Below are some practical ways to overcome depression on your own.
What are the usual symptoms of depression? There’s never-ending guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, and other horrible emotions that make you wonder how you’re still breathing. And what do you think will act as a salve to all those negativities? Gratitude, no less. As what Amy Morin said, “Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.”
It can’t be challenging to achieve because even you can give it to yourself. The trick is to let happiness enter even the tiniest blood vessels in your body. Should you still be wary as to how it’ll take place, there are a few points to remember.
You always need to look out for signs of depression for yourself or your loved ones. The disorder may appear to only affect the sadness level of a person in the beginning, but it’s much deadlier than diabetes or cancer. Once the mental illness persists, it can cause unexplainable body pain, emotional detachment, and worse, suicidal tendencies.
Should you speak with a psychiatrist if you feel the symptoms? Yes, of course. You need to receive a diagnosis to be able to remedy the issues that made you blue. Whether you should take antidepressants or not, however, depends on your beliefs. If you are pro-drugs and the doctor gives you a prescription, then you may try that.
As said by a mental health expert, psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress.” Aside from that, you can do many things.
In case you have the energy to try alternative methods, below are the activities that may lower your depression or the risk of having it.
Fitness offers more advantages than just dissolving fats or strengthening your core muscles. It also lessens your opportunity to binge-watch or stick with social media all day long. Hence, you can de-stress and stay positive.
- Blaming Yourself Less
Getting angry about something you’ve already done is futile. You can’t edit that out; you can merely learn from what went wrong. Once you instill that idea in your mind, the mental disease may not bother you again.
- Minding What You Eat
Food may enhance your mood when you’re feeling down, but too much of it can also depress you. To reduce that possibility, you need to be mindful of what you put on your plate and the serving sizes. As Cassandra M. Faraci, Psy.D. said in her blog, “Consult your medical doctor about an appropriate diet and exercise plan for you. Staying healthy can be a huge mood booster! Scheduling pleasurable activities can also boost your mood not only because you are engaging in something you enjoy but it reduces the amount of energy you put into ruminating about your worried thoughts.”
- Staying Connected
Keeping in close contact with your kin is essential when it comes to preserving your sanity. It is ideal to hug your children and spouse often and affirm your love for one another. If physical distance makes it impossible, you can talk to them over the phone or do a video call regularly.
- Sleeping Better
Lack of sleep often short-circuits the brain. When you only get one or two hours of rest every night, you may transform into an irritable mess and get buried under a massive pile of stress. Feel free to change your bedroom decoration, leave gadgets outside, or stick to a schedule to counter that.
- Seeking Life Purpose
Have you ever wondered why you are still alive? A probable reason is that you haven’t fulfilled your purpose in this life just yet. Work on knowing what that is so that you can let go of the saddening thoughts and walk towards the righteous path.
- Dodging Substance Use
A lot of depressed people look for the momentary happiness that smoking or drinking brings. It’s vital to avoid either activity, however, because it may result in addiction, as well as losing your job and family. You will then be extra miserable and have no desire to crush depression.
- Having Confidence
Lastly, you need to work on building up or maintaining your confidence level. You can’t roam the world without it at an all-time low – that will turn you into a negativity magnet. Practice voicing out your thoughts more and wearing clothes that make you feel powerful until your self-esteem becomes stable.
Just in case you need more than that, “Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a short-term therapy technique that can help people find new ways to behave by changing their thought patterns. Engaging with CBT can help people reduce stress, cope with complicated relationships, deal with grief, and face many other common life challenges,” according to Kathleen Davis, FNP.