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I’m Impatient and Easily Irritated … Am I Depressed?

Dear GoodTherapy.org,

I am irritable all the time. Simple questions bug me, I'm constantly nitpicking, and I have little patience with what I consider stupidity all around me. I wasn't always this way ... there was a time when I was much more accepting, not on edge, and friendly. Needless to say, I don't have a big social circle. Am I depressed? Is there something else going on that I need to get help for? I don't want to be this unlikable person that I've become. —Irritated

Dear Irritated,

When I first read your letter, I wondered if you had visited your personal physician for a checkup recently. I am not a physician, but I am aware that your irritation can be a symptom of many things, among them a nutritional disorder, neurological damage, or medication interactions. So I would advise you first to seek the advice of a medical doctor.

You write that you did not always feel angry, edgy, and unfriendly, and I wonder if you can trace back to the time when your feelings and your behavior changed. Tracking this down might give some clues about what it is that has gone wrong.

You may not have a big social circle, but are there a few friends or relatives to whom you could turn for help? They might have ideas about when, and even why, you changed.

You ask if you are depressed. It sounds like you are, and anger, as you might know, goes hand-in-hand with depression. Anger is even an underlying factor in the development of depression.

You say you are nitpicking and edgy. Who are the people most affected by these qualities? Do they have something in common?

Funny, one of the first things you wrote was that simple questions bug you, so I guess I’m bugging you as you read my reply, because I’ve asked you a lot. So rather than ask anything else, I’ll suggest that after you visit your physician you make an appointment with a therapist, who will ask you to talk about yourself, probably ask questions that annoy you, and who will request that when you’re annoyed you say so. The therapist will also ask you to report when you think the conversation has gone stupid, and you won’t have to worry about being offensive, because the therapist won’t take it personally, and that will help you, eventually, learn how to be the more likable person you say you used to be.

I hope you find your old self soon, and that when found it’s even better than you remember.

Best wishes,

  • Leslie June 28th, 2013 at 11:19 AM #1

    I am like the therapist here. I thought oh no here is someone else self diagnosing like most of us do at some point in time.

    But I think that I would agree that if this is all new for you and not how you have always felt (because let’s face it, there are just some people who go through all of their lives angry and irritated for no good reason!) then I would tend to think that there are some deeper things going on with you that you may just not be fully aware of.

    I think that it’s great that you have enough slef awareness to recognize that something is definitely amiss and I think that asking your question here is a great first step in the right direction!

  • Gina June 28th, 2013 at 5:29 PM #2

    If you are a woman of a “certain age” you may also be experiencing symptoms of menopause.

    I am going through this wonderful phase of my life and hace tried many different approaches to reduce the symptoms. So far not completely successful.

    Diet, Yoga, progeterone creams, Mindful based therapy is my next investigation…

    Dr is quick to prescribe low dose aniety meds–but trying not to go there!

    Good luck

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein June 28th, 2013 at 5:32 PM #3

    Dear Leslie,
    Thanks for the compliment, it means a great deal to me. And thanks for encouraging the person who wrote in. It makes a big difference to know people are behind you.

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein June 28th, 2013 at 7:18 PM #4

    Gina, it sounds like you’re on the right track.
    Take care,

  • Peter June 29th, 2013 at 12:30 AM #5

    I am easily irritated when I’m worried.Depression would make me irritated to a much greater extent.Looking back would be a good idea but I don’t understand why seeing a physician is suggested.Anybody have a clue why?

  • Dr. Lynn Somerstein June 29th, 2013 at 11:38 AM #6

    I suggested checking with a physician because irritation and depression are associated with heart disease, gastro-intestinal symptoms, effects of aging, etc. A general check-up can rule a lot of things out

  • Carson July 1st, 2013 at 4:41 AM #7

    The one thing that I wouldn’t want to see in a cse like this is for her to go to a family doctor and then have him start making a diagnosis without really knowing too much about mental health to begin with.
    I find that far too many of these doctors overreach their bounds and try to get involved in areas where they would be far better off referring the patient to a trained clinician familiar with and comfortable treating all aspects of mental health and wellness.
    I think that with the right treatment strategy there is definitely something out there that could help you work through this but not at the hands of someone better served and trained to treat common health complaints, not depression.

  • Cindy Ricardo July 10th, 2013 at 11:46 AM #8

    Being irritable, on edge and easily frustrated can be a sign of many different things as Lynn and others have stated here. Depression is much more than being irritated and beyond labeling or diagnosing yourself (unless you are in danger of hurting yourself in which case being diagnosed is essential)it is helpful to explore what is going on in your life that is causing your unhappiness and irritablity.

    It is also that many times we react to what is happening on the outside with judgment towards ourselves and others and the the truth is that judgment keeps us stuck and unable to heal or shift our perspective to one that is more balanced.

    Finding a therapist to help you explore your feelings and what is happening in your life is what is most helpful. It is in becoming aware of how we are reacting to life/ourselves that we can begin to shift into a more balanced mindset.

  • Lia September 7th, 2013 at 11:14 AM #9

    I´m feeling the same way…. I moved to the Netherlands to live with my partner 8 years ago and I never really felt at home here. It took me so long to get a job here that I decided to go back to school, which I did and got a degree to teach English in Holland. Still, I feel displaced — people here are unfriendly towards foreigners and my boyfriend with hom I had a daughter 6 years ago never wanted to marry me, because he has some money and is afraid that I´ll take it if we get a divorce. He calls me a parasite because I don´t bring money in, but he is weaithy and I do contribute with the cleaning of our home, cooking, ironing and many other things. I´m not a big spender: I have an old cell phone for emergency phone calls, I cut my own hair, I do my nails, we rarely go out together for a movie or anything — So, I feel pretty bad in this situation. I don´t want to raise my daughter as a single mom and I´m alone here. Meanwhile, my mom passed away and I don´t have a lot of friends that i can trully trust.

  • kenari March 2nd, 2014 at 2:45 PM #10

    Lia, I was trying to figure out the reasons why im so irritated with anything when I came across your message. I am a foreigner here in my new place. Married to a citizen here. Ive been here for two years now and I feel so discourage coz I cant find a job. I was a career woman back home very busy but enjoying life and then I came here. I cant find a job, i also went on trainings to make me qualified but to no avail till now. I feel so discriminated…

  • Coco April 10th, 2014 at 2:44 PM #11

    I have a boyfriend I am quiet young and everything he does annoys me I don’t know what is wrong even my best friend has been saying I get annoyed easily recently but I always have some stupid excuse for example I’m tired or cold or whatever, I’m so fed up. Please help

  • Lost May 28th, 2014 at 1:34 AM #12

    I’ve been having a lot of issues since some time..I get very aggressive and irritated on small little things..im a person of principles and can’t stand anything wrong going on..since im a good listener alot of people have become a parasite for me as well..I come from an eastern society where families have alot of say in your life, so yes I feel my life and all my acts are determined by them which annoys me even more..im currently un-married and have alot of social and family pressure on that front but im simply not giving up on marrying just any tom dick n harry until I feel attracted to someone..then my boss at work is hitting on me..I just dont know where im heading or my life is heading..im even studying psychology and as a result Im feeling alot more now..I feel im in deep rite now but I want take control of my life and manage my situation..I do end up crying alot when I feel helpless..I dont know what to do..

  • Lynn Somerstein May 30th, 2014 at 5:04 AM #13

    Dear Lost-
    Thanks for writing–I have the feeling that you may be depressed. Studying psychology is rewarding, but you can learn more in person. Why not make an appointment with a psychotherapist and find out more about yourself.

  • cherry p. June 24th, 2014 at 10:58 PM #14

    I don’t understand why it was suggested to see a physician. They are not expert on the brain or psychological matters. If we get advise like this. We should directly go to the doctor rather than ask for a therapist’s help.

  • martina July 15th, 2014 at 1:23 AM #15

    Im a great believer in alternative solutions anti-depressants are not the answer (more like putting money in the pharmacuticals companies pockets) and yes i have been and still am on tablets but want to come off them…just ordered a book called ‘the mood cure’ by julia ross…it was recommended to me by a nutricionist and after reading it it does make sense….all the best :-)

  • Veda August 24th, 2014 at 7:11 AM #16

    May be you’re pregnant?

  • Veda August 24th, 2014 at 7:18 AM #17

    I don’t know if you have truly talked to your boyfriend,but he needs to be made aware of how you feel. He is not the only one that is contributing you sacrificed your old life to be with him! On top of that you gave him continuous life by having a daughter for him! He just needs to lighten up. Yes in today’s society it does take two to make it, however can’t help your situation right now.

  • Victoria August 24th, 2014 at 10:00 AM #18

    I have been having the same problem for a few weeks now. I was majorly depressed and on Cipralex and discontinued it as it had terrible side-effects and didn’t help my depression much. Ever since I’ve discontinued it I am in such a terrible mood. Irritable all the time, bitchy to everyone and biting everyone’s head off, so frustrated that I literally walk around the house sighing all the time. I’ve been hoping it would just disappear on it’s own but so far it’s still there every second. It’s terrible feeling like this because I find myself to be quite nasty and judgmental and that’s not who I am. Going back on Cipralex isn’t an option due to the side effects I was having and alternative medications haven’t worked for me either. I’ve been having therapy for months but not much help there either as you talk about your feelings and that’s about it. Cognitive a behavioral therapy just doesn’t work for me. I’ve been trying all kinds of things from changing my thinking to more natural medications, taking vitamins, eating as healthy as possible, doing things that usually cheer me up all to no avail. Sort of hopeless right now.

  • selam August 24th, 2014 at 10:46 AM #19

    I believe PMS, and other hormon problem are more responsible along side with our upbringing……of course education and therapy are helpful…..I myself are a victime, people will tell u to let go, but it is not as simple as it seems, It ia a brain cancer. Acknowledging it is the first best tackle, and ask the people around u to give u support, while you try different techniques to manage it….Dont bit up urself, this is who u are and find a way to deal or manage it….like gender, yr hait color etc….ur are different…ur brain is wired up differently.. Keep researching…….try to visit nutritionist, physicians, yoga, counselors……Take it seriously, because this feeling will continue to follow and make ur life miserable….Good luck

  • Sandy September 14th, 2014 at 9:30 PM #20

    im 29 years old and i still live with my parents and my sister. I have two jobs and i dont have a big social life. i dont have a boyfriend either. but i like my solitude. i read a lot of books. my free time are my books and tv. and i dont like to be bothered. but i HATE how easily i can get angry for not reason. i snap at my mom, anything she says makes me mad and my i cant stand my sister. but they haven’t done anything to me. i feel terrible about it afterwards and i never apologize i just pretend like nothing happened. i feel like such a terrible person. i dont know if its a face im going through, i didnt used to be like this. i thought at first it was because i was lonely but people bother me. trying to make idle conversation is annoying. i have to force myself to listen and talk to people. and my job requires me to be percky and cheerfull so i have to swallow it up. i know its me the problem i wish i could stop been a jerk all the time specially with my mom. i dont want be bitter and angry, i dont want to push people away but is soo hard to bring anyone closer to begin with because i dont want too. i just dont know how to be more tolerant. i dont want to hate my mom. i dont know how to fix it.

  • Lynn Somerstein September 15th, 2014 at 10:38 AM #21

    Dear Sandy,
    You sound very angry and unhappy, and like you could use a friendly ear, someone who can listen to you and empathize and maybe give you a hand, too. How about consulting with a therapist or a social worker?
    Take good care,

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