How Irritability, Depression and Anxiety Are Connected

Artwork by Lauren Brooke Sanchez

Artwork by Lauren Brooke Sanchez

Did you know that irritability can be a symptom of anxiety or depression? It's not something that comes to mind for most people when those disorders are mentioned, but it can be a frustrating manifestation of them. I have days where I am so ridiculously short tempered I snap at everyone and everything. The littlest thing makes me grumpy, and I feel like a monster. I am not gentle or kind, and I feel out of control. It's distressing, and makes me hate myself, which of course makes everything worse. Sometimes I'm triggered and I can point specifically to what's wrong. Other days those same triggers can bring up sadness or a panic attack. Other times it's just a general feeling, and I can't figure out what is causing it. Sometimes it's just feeling overwhelmed, or lost, or hopeless, and it comes out as snapping and impatience. There's also times where the exact same things won't trigger anything at all, which makes it insanely difficult, frustrating and confusing for both myself and everyone involved.

I can honestly say that I would rather have panic attacks or be crying. If it's one of those, I'm more likely to be kind to myself and slow down. People are more likely to be understanding and try to help. But with being irritable I feel guilty and like in a bad person. It's hard for people to get that I'm not mad at anyone or anything specifically. There's just too many feels going on and that's how they're choosing to come about at that moment.

It took years and so much therapy for me to actually realize that this was a symptom of the disorder. To understand that I'm not a bad person - I'm just dealing with an illness. I wouldn't beat myself up for throwing up while I have the flu, so why should I for this? When we think of the symptoms of depression or anxiety, the things that come to mind are crying or panicking. We don't talk about the irritability or the apathy (but more on that in a different post). I think the more we talk about it, the more we share our stories, the more understanding we will be of each other. The more we learn, the more we can help - both ourselves and each other.