On the surface, aligning rage and depression seems a bit counterintuitive. Someone who is angry is perceived to behave differently than someone who is clinically depressed. But look a little deeper and you may start to see an interesting connection. This happens to be a point that was recently brought up by NPR and one that we think merits further investigation.
Writer Nell Greenfield Boyce pretty much summed up the same statement in the beginning of her article.
“Many people — including physicians — associate depression with feelings of hopelessness, sadness and a lack of motivation or concentration, but not anger,” she writes. “And even if you pick up what is often called the ‘bible of psychiatry,’ the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you’ll find that the list of core symptoms for major depression doesn’t include anger. But irritability — a reduced control over one’s temper that results in angry outbursts — is listed as a core symptom of depression.”
Noted Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Maurizio Fava also contributed to the piece and shed some light into why there has been such a disconnect all these years. He explained that when he was trained in the subject, the common thought was that anger is projected inward during depression. In essence, depressed people are angry at themselves and not others.
But more recent case studies examined by Dr. Fava have educated him otherwise. In fact, he found that people prone to outbursts share many of the same traits as “depressed” or “anxious” people going through a panic attack. He aligned anger attacks in the same vein and actually saw some success when people prone to rage were treated with antidepressants.
And on the flip side, more recent studies have shown that those diagnosed with depression do experience angry emotions on a regular basis.
“A recent large study looked at more than 500 people who had been diagnosed with major depression,” Greenfield Boyce added. “It found that more than half showed overt irritability/anger, and that this anger and irritability appeared to be associated with more severe, chronic depression.”
Ultimately, these all fall under the category of mental health. Whether you’re consistently angry or sad (or possibly both), it is important to not just zero in on certain emotions. At Inneractions, we specialize in treating co-occurring disorders and believe that healing truly begins when you look at the bigger picture.