We all get angry sometimes; it’s a part of life. But when that anger interferes with your quality of life, it becomes a more serious problem. Recurrent episodes of anger can be a sign of mental illness. In this article we will explore what psychological disorders most commonly correlate with anger or rage. If you are experiencing any of these mental health issues, please consult a clinician who specializes in anger management. It’s important that your mental health provider is well-versed in anger issues and able to help you work through your triggers to better manage anger.
Oppositional Defiance Disorder
Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) is frequently seen in “disobedient” children. It is misinterpreted frequently and kids who display this disorder are often told that they are just being “difficult.” Sometimes ODD kids can become so angry that they’re violent: punching, kicking and hurting their parents and classmates. Here are some symptoms of ODD to look out for that are anger-related:
- Angry mood that is directed at parents, siblings or classmates
- Significant problems at school work or in the person’s home environment
- Occurs by itself rather than with another mental health disorder
- Loss of temper and angry outbursts
- Symptoms last six months or more
ODD can seriously impact a person’s life, but also takes a toll on the family members of the person suffering with the disorder. For example, in a child who suffers from ODD, the parents may have to deal with problematic behavior at school, difficulty in social situations and violent behavior at home. As a parent, this might feel frustrating and overwhelming, especially if the parent is also dealing with their own mental health issues. Let’s face it, we all have issues to deal with in life, whether you have mental illness or not. Having a child who is experiencing violent outbursts can be draining no matter who you are.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD affects both children and adults. There are two three: inattentive, hyperactive and combined. Some inattentive symptoms include:
- Careless mistakes in school or at work
- Significant difficulty focusing
- Difficulty retaining information when reading or listening to someone talking
- Being easily distracted
Hyperactive ADHD symptoms include:
- Fidgeting or restlessness
- Leaving your seat frequently
- Feeling like you are being driven by a motor
- Difficulty waiting one’s turn
- Interrupting others when they are speaking
Although symptoms of ADHD don’t typically don’t include anger or rage, it’s a logical conclusion that when one is easily frustrated they could become irritable or angry. ADHD is also often co-morbid with other diagnoses such as depression or Bipolar Disorder, which can present with symptoms of anger or irritability. People with ADHD often feel misunderstood (myself included) because their minds work faster than “normal” people. This leads to feelings of depression and possibly resentment and rage.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by pronounced changes in mood that are cyclical in nature. Someone who is bipolar experiences “highs” known as mania and “lows” known as depression. If you are bipolar type I you have episodes of true mania, which include insomnia or needing minimal amounts of sleep but not missing it. When you are manic, you don’t sleep but feel euphoric as a result, where as someone who isn’t bipolar would not experience that euphoric feeling when not sleeping.
Symptoms of mania include:
- Little need for sleep and feeling great as a result
- Usually talkative
- Racing thoughts
- Poor decisions including gambling, spending loads of money, and being sexually promiscuous
Symptoms of bipolar depression include:
- Insomnia or sleeping excessively
- Loss of appetite or eating too much
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts or active suicide attempts
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that needs to be treated by both a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Medication and therapy in conjunction are the recommended treatment for Bipolar. One of the symptoms mentioned above in the manic section is “irritability.” Because Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, the mood swings can cause the person to feel bouts of frustration or even rage. That’s why monitoring your anger levels as as someone with bipolar disorder is incredibly important. Anger (if not managed well) can lead to dangerous behavior and potentially problems with the law influenced by violence.
We’ve discussed three disorders that have symptoms of anger included in them. If you or a family member is experiencing the symptoms of any of these mental health issues, please consult a mental health professional and get the help that you and/or your family need.