How To Deal With Anger When You Have Bipolar Disorder?

It has been seen many times that there are many reasons behind anger, most commonly personal beliefs, past emotional incidences, drug or alcohol abuse, amongst others. However, many times it can happen that people who have anger issues can actually be having some kind of imbalance in their brain chemistry that triggers outbursts of anger. One such phenomenon is related to bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a condition of the brain that can cause an unexpected and sometimes even dramatic shift in a person’s mood. These moods can range from euphoria to manic depression. This phase of the disorder is known as the manic period. Sometimes the disorder can also leave you feeling intense sadness and despair. This phase of the disorder is known as a depressive period. Due to this, bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depressive disorder.

People who suffer from bipolar disorder are known to exhibit intense anger and irritability. We take a look at how you can deal with anger when you have bipolar disorder.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a disorder of the brain that causes unexpected and dramatic shifts in the patient’s moods. These moods range from being euphoric to being depressed. Most people believe that people who suffer from bipolar disorder have only two spectrums of emotions – being extremely happy or being desperately sad. However, this is rarely the case and sufferers of bipolar disorder suffer from a large and often uncontrolled range of emotions, with the two extremes being mania and depression.

How is Anger Linked to Bipolar Disorder?

The mood fluctuations in a person having bipolar disorder are known to cause changes in their energy levels as well. People who are experiencing an episode of bipolar disorder often also exhibit different types of behavior, activity levels, and energy levels. One such common emotion is that of irritability. Irritability is particularly common during their manic episodes, but it may occur in other instances as well.

A bipolar disorder patient who is experiencing irritability is likely to become easily upset and bristle at any attempts made by others to help them. They become easily aggravated or annoyed, tending to lash out in anger at anyone who requests to talk to who offers help. In most cases, anger is not a common symptom of bipolar disorder, but many people who suffer from bipolar disorder, as well as their families and friends, report experiencing frequent and sudden bouts of anger. In some cases, people may perceive irritability as anger as well, and as irritation increases, so does the severity of their rage.

In fact, a study conducted in 2012 found that people who have bipolar disorder tend to exhibit a higher number of aggressive episodes compared to people who do not suffer from any mood disorders. The study also found that bipolar disorder patients who are not taking any treatment or those who are experiencing a severe bout of mood swings are much more likely to experience periods of anger or irritability. Irritation or annoyance is also more easily converted to anger and rage in these people.

How to Deal with Anger When You Have Bipolar Disorder?

How to Deal with Anger When You Have Bipolar Disorder?

Here are some steps you can take to help you deal with not just your anger, but with any emotional mood swings.

Identify The Triggers That Make You Angry

There can be certain people, events, or even certain requests that can be quite upsetting to people who suffer from bipolar disorder. It can easily flip their mood from a good one to a bad one. If you are someone who gets angry at specific things, then it is a good idea to identify the triggers and make a list of them. Try to recognize what makes you upset or what situations act as a trigger, and learn to ignore them or to cope with them.

Do Not Skip or Forget Your Bipolar Disorder Medicines

Taking your medications is important because bipolar disorder is a medical condition that needs to be properly treated. If you take proper treatment for the condition, you will experience lesser mood swings. This is why it is necessary that alongside your doctor, you pick a treatment plan that works the best for you. It will help you maintain your composure even during emotional states.

Therapy Is A Good Option To Deal With Anger Related To Bipolar Disorder

Apart from taking your medications, doctors often recommend people having bipolar disorder to participate in cognitive behavioral therapy – a type of therapy that can help patients express their feelings, thoughts, and concerns better. The goal of therapy is to help you become more productive in spite of the bipolar disorder and to also find ways through which you can cope with the emotional effects of bipolar disorder.

Channel Your Energies To Manage Anger Issues Resulting From Bipolar Disorder

Whenever you find yourself getting upset or irritated, it is a good idea to have a creative outlet through which you can channel this energy, thus avoiding a negative interaction. Meditation, exercise, painting, reading, or any kind of activity that helps you relax and calm down while managing your emotions in a productive manner will be ideal for you.

Have a Support Team in Place to Deal with Bipolar Disorder Related Anger

Having people you can turn to for support helps a lot when you are experiencing a bad day, a bad week, or in general, you feel a bad mood coming on. It is imperative that you always keep your circle of friends and family members about the symptoms of bipolar disorder and let them know that you are working through your mood swings. Having a support group in place will help you manage your anger and your bipolar disorder better.


Always remember that it is okay to be angry. Everybody, even people who do not have bipolar disorder, can get upset now and then. Anger is a part of a normal and healthy reaction of your body to an event happening in your life. However, anger becomes a problem when it becomes uncontrollable or it starts affecting your interaction with other people. If you start feeling that anger is preventing you from forming healthy relationships, then you should consider consulting your doctor.

It is possible to lead a happy and healthy life even with bipolar disorder. Just remember that treatment is necessary for dealing with bipolar disorder and keep your family and friends informed about what you are going through.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 24, 2018

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