Signs and Symptoms of Anger and Irritability

Signs and symptoms of anger and irritability

Anger is usually associated with aggressive outbursts, yelling, and violence. Anger can be a healthy emotion to have and, in some cases, it’s a perfectly natural reaction to stressful circumstances. However, the inability to process and manage your anger is when it can become dangerous and potentially harmful to yourself or others.

Anger becomes especially dangerous if it turns into physical or verbal aggression. Anger and irritability seem to be common signs and symptoms among many different types of mental disorders, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, and substance use disorder (SUD).

General Information About Anger and Irritability

Anger and Irritability are one of the most common symptoms of psychiatric disorders, along with lack of concentration and recklessness. Often, irritability and anger may occur as a result of frustration from a blocked goal or a goal that you may have been in pursuit of but are not able to obtain. Studies show that people who are prone to anger are also often big reward-seekers. A reward-seeker may become that much more frustrated when they are not able to complete their goal, resulting in irritability and anger. Problems managing anger and irritability are often linked to having feelings of depression, anxiousness, and hopelessness. Irritability can be defined as a mood that causes the emotion of anger.

While both anger and irritability can trigger aggression in a person, this is not always the case. A person who has a good handle on processing their anger is more likely not to become aggressive if the emotion is triggered. A person can also have inward or outward anger, meaning anger towards oneself or others.

Who Is at Risk for Anger Management Problems?

Studies show that severe anger management problems tend to be associated with poor quality of life. Children who struggle with severe anger problems are more likely to be rejected by their peers, which may lead to dropping out of school and mental health referrals. Children may convey their anger differently than adults through temper tantrums, acting out types of behaviors, and possibly aggression.

When a feeling of irritability or anger goes unaddressed it can build inside you and become hostile. Many people who have issues with anger expression such as people with substance abuse disorder or depression may also struggle with anger management issues. Some people may self-medicate their feeling of anger by abusing substances. A person who is having problems with anger management and substance abuse should address these problems simultaneously during treatment or therapy.

Signs and Symptoms of Anger and Irritability

It is important to be able to identify the difference between healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger. A person should never express their anger with aggression or violence. An anger management problem can be assessed based on the person’s state of anger and trait anger. State anger is the intensity of anger that a person may experience at a specific point in time or the intensity of how mad a person gets when something sets them off. Trait anger is a characteristic of a person who experiences frequent anger with varying degrees, meaning someone who is constantly very irritable.

It may be necessary to seek treatment if you or a loved one experiences either very intense anger in a particular situation or constantly feel in a state of anger. Physical signs of anger may include pacing, sarcasm, physical aggression, verbal aggression, or visible anxiousness. Anger may also cause a person to feel sad, guilty, or resentful and you may notice your hands feeling sweaty, your jaw tightening, your heart pulsating, headaches, and fast breathing.

Treating Anger and Irritability

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that focuses on anger management can help you monitor your anger patterns and give you tools to help mitigate your anger when provoked. Studies have shown that a combination of therapy and pharmaceuticals is the most effective option for treating anger management problems.

Therapy can help you identify triggers or stressful events that might cause agitation within your daily routine. Once you understand what is triggering your anger, you can try to mitigate your feelings of anger by changing the thoughts you have that are surrounding these triggers. Cognitive thinking patterns that may be causing negative, angry thoughts include overgeneralizing situations, obsessing over how a particular situation should go, jumping to conclusions, blaming other people for your hardships, or constantly looking for the negatives in a situation. A CBT therapist can help you identify your triggers and help you come up with solutions to changing your thought process that surround your triggers.

Problems with anger management can have serious negative effects on a person’s life. While anger is a normal emotion to have in certain situations, anger can become aggressive or dangerous when a person is unable to process the emotion healthily. Anger management often correlates with substance use disorder as people with substance abuse disorders often have difficulty expressing and controlling their anger. This can cause their anger to build up and boil over.


Professionals at Shoreline Recovery Center are dedicated to helping people with all of their substance abuse issues, including anger management. At Shoreline Recovery Center, we offer several different types of therapy including CBT, which can help you identify the triggers of your anger and addiction in order to live a healthier lifestyle. If you or a loved one is suffering from anger and irritability and/or substance use disorder, please call us at (866) 278-8495 to learn more about the programs and treatment that we offer.

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