We often think of feelings of depression connected to guilt, sadness, or hopelessness.
However, overt of suppressed anger is a prevalent feeling associated with depression as well¹. You may struggle with intense irritability and ager when battling depressive feelings as well.
We all know what it feels like to be angry, but for some people, anger is more often present than it is absent. In these cases, the actual reason behind your anger might be depression.
Anger, or “a negative feeling state that is typically associated with hostile thoughts, physiological arousal, and maladaptive behaviors,” can have many negative consequences². It can present itself in many different forms, including a physical display of muscle tension and thought patterns surrounding revenge.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize that their excessive anger may be associated with feelings of depression.
While typically management using medicaiton or supplementation help other symptoms of depression, it rarely helps with the anger. Fortunately, there are some strategies that you can use to remediate detrimental anger. Read on to learn how to overcome anger and depression.
When left unchecked, feelings of anger will mount and intensify. The first thing to focus on is recognizing when you’re upset and preventing a snowball effect.
If you want to know how to overcome anger, then you must first admit how you feel. According to a 2011 study in Emotion, people who can recognize their anger are less likely to resolve it with aggression or violence.
Instead of denying your anger, please pay attention to it. By doing this, you will be more in tune with your own emotions, and you will be able to figure out which situations trigger your anger. Acknowledging your feelings is the first step to how to overcome anger.
According to Brad Buschman, Ph.D., a Professor of Communication and Psychology at The Ohio State University in Columbus, “angry people are highly aroused. When people get aroused, they do and say things they later regret.” Instead of reacting to your feelings of anger, bring down some of that emotion before acting. Some strategies you can use to lower your heart rate and blood pressure during bouts of anger include the following:
Counting down (from 10, 100, 1,000, or whatever is most effective for you).
Focus on deep breathing. Breathe through your diaphragm and consider a Yoga class.
Write or journal about your emotions so that you can release some of the feelings before responding.
Walk away and distract yourself. Instead of getting enraged, take a step back, and engage in an activity that will lower your emotions. Choose something simple that you enjoy, like exercising, walking, drawing, or doing a puzzle.
Handling your anger at the moment is an excellent first step, but the next key is to prevent it. Here are some strategies for managing anger and preventing it:
Unfortunately, small situations often set off high levels of irritability. According to the American Psychological Association, it’s important to “recognize the difference between events that you can change and those that are beyond you.”² Be proactive in preventing situations that will bug you. For example, if you hate having ice in your water, tell the waiter ahead of time that you do not want it.
Learn how to tell the difference between what you can and cannot control. Be proactive about managing what you can, and let go of the rest instead of allowing it to upset you.
It’s no secret that sleep is the key to better health in nearly every facet. If you’re looking for one crucial tip for overcoming anger issues, sleep is vital. An Iowa State study in Science News found that ”losing just a couple hours of sleep at night makes you angrier, especially in frustrating situations.”³
If you already struggle with how to overcome anger and bitterness, then lack of quality sleep is not optional. Make an extra effort to get enough sleep regularly.
There’s no shame in seeking professional help for overwhelming feelings of anger, resentment, and depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an incredibly beneficial way to help people manage anger symptoms, especially in light of the depression¹. The American Psychological Association suggests that people seek professional help for anger if “your anger is moderate to intense, experienced frequently, endures to the point where you are holding a grudge and are planning to get even, and is expressed in aggressive verbal and physical actions.”
Feelings of anger and frustration, mainly associated with depression, are challenging to handle. The process of how to overcome anger and depression is a demanding but incredibly rewarding one. Start by implementing the strategies above to manage anger and other feelings associated with depression.
(1) Sahu, A; Gupta, P; Chatterjee, B (March 2014) Depression is More Than Just Sadness: A Case of Excessive Anger and Its Management in Depression
(2) American Psychological Association (2012) How to recognize and deal with anger
(3) Iowa State University (2018 November) Lack of sleep intensifies anger, impairs adaptation to frustrating circumstances