Introduction to Chronic Irritability
Chronic irritability issues is a commonly searched phrase on Google about mood issues. People want to know what it may indicate as far as further mental health disorders and how therapy can help.
But what is chronic irritability? Is it being in a bad mood, or a behavior problem, or tied to an underlying medical condition? How long must you experience chronic irritability before it requires medical or professional attention?
What Is Chronic Irritability?
People may exhibit chronic irritability when they become easily angry, upset, or excited. Being irritated at the dog barking whenever someone knocks or rings the bell doesn’t mean you’re chronically irritable. Think of the dog as your diligent watcher, alerting you to the presence of someone. So, the irritability felt at this moment is temporary and a normal emotional response.
Furthermore, with the constant news cycle and an inability to escape the outside world’s influences, it is understandable that people have a tough time turning off worries about threats and perceived negative influences on themselves and their families.
Medical and behavioral experts say that chronic irritability may be a sign of various mental health issues and conditions. Irritability and mental health disorders are inextricably intertwined. The list of conditions and disorders characterized by symptoms of chronic irritability include substance use, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even chronic pain, and disordered sleep.
Other Signs of Chronic Irritability
When chronic irritability exists, other feelings are also present. Someone who is chronically irritable may feel highly frustrated, exhibit profound impatience, and visibly demonstrate their agitation at the circumstances or people around them.
Chronic irritability looks and feels like someone is overreacting. It can be an overreaction. But it can also be an exaggerated emotional response to a persistent or recurring situation. The intensity of the reaction is what gives it away, likely resulting in others pointing out the behavioral response.
It is important to note that individuals experiencing chronic irritability aren’t feeling it non-stop. Their frustration, impatience, and agitation are more prevalent sometimes and not others.
Common Causes of Persistent Irritability
If all the chronic irritability causes could be neatly summed up and categorized into a readily understandable list, it would make diagnosis, prevention, and treatment more manageable.
Chronic Irritability Causes
Some of the common chronic irritability causes are the same ones that tend to escalate stress. They’re familiar to everyone because they are part of the human condition. Individuals can become chronically irritable due to the following:
- Underlying Medical Causes — Only a doctor can diagnose medical conditions, but often, the fact that someone experiences near-persistent irritation is a sign they may have a chronic illness. This can include chronic pain from an injury or medical condition. People with chronic illness often display irritability.
- Medication Side Effects — Some prescription medications are known to have irritability as one of their side effects. Furthermore, discontinuing some prescription medications can precipitate an increase in irritability.
- Mental Health Disorders — According to research, chronic irritability causes may stem from the presence of depression or during a major depressive episode. Seasonal affective disorder, substance use disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder in children and adolescents, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder are also associated with irritability.
- Life Stress Incidence — The increase in life stressors can trigger irritability. When those stressors mount, and the individual has difficulty managing irritability, it can lead to chronic irritability.
- Common life stressors include loneliness, burnout, job and career issues, financial concerns, and relationships (friendships, family, romantic, work).
- Sleep Issues — Sleep irregularities are a known cause of irritability. This includes lack of adequate sleep, interrupted sleep, sleep characterized by nightmares, sleep apnea, and insomnia. Waking up exhausted leaves a person groggy, disoriented, confused, and highly irritable.
- Too Much Caffeine — While it may seem like having a cup of coffee to get you going in the morning is the right approach, it can prove the opposite for those with chronic irritability. Since caffeine is a stimulant, there’s a crash once the rush from the caffeine passes. Too much caffeine or insufficient caffeine can promote irritability for heavy coffee consumers.
- Low Blood Sugar The human body requires balanced blood sugar for optimum efficiency. When blood sugar levels drop, the result is often impatience and irritability. This is caused by a hormonal cascade that includes cortisol and adrenaline. Too much cortisol may trigger aggression. Besides irritability, low blood sugar may hamper impulse control and behavior regulation.
Practical Strategies for Managing Irritability
While learning strategies that are proven effective in managing irritability is highly recommended, what makes the advice palatable are emotional health tips that are practical and easy to follow.
Tips for Coping with Constant Irritability
What everyday techniques can be used in coping with constant irritability? Some are commonsense techniques, while others may be novel in their approach.
- Practice being on time. If you’re often late, arriving at the last minute will increase frustration, aggravation, apprehension, and irritability. Give yourself an extra half hour to get where you must be — or longer if a traffic check indicates delays on your regular route. Similarly, if someone expects you to help with an assignment or you’ve promised assistance to a family member, friend, or loved one, allow more time than usual to accomplish the task.
- Take deep breaths. It’s well-known that holding your breath and shallow breathing results from the body being under stress and muscles tensing up. Anxious thoughts and not breathing sufficiently deprive the body of much-needed oxygen. As a consequence, irritability, anxiety, fear, and panic can increase.
- Taking deep breaths calms agitation and irritability. At the same time, it slows heart rate and reduces cortisol levels.
- Try apps for breathing and meditation to help you develop effective breath-calming techniques.
- Learning to control and practice deep breathing is an effective technique for managing irritability. This is one of the more accessible emotional health tips for coping with chronic irritability causes.
- Learn to reframe thoughts. What is it about certain things that make you feel so irritated? Instead of automatically going to that negative emotion, reframing how you think about it may be helpful.
- You may dread Monday mornings because of the pile of incomplete assignments, or the boss will drop off a hot project that will increase your workload. Mental health experts recommend considering the positives your job brings, such as the opportunities you can offer your family, how you can travel to exciting places, and being counted on as a trusted, valued employee.
- Dealing with a messy home environment may be galling and exacerbate irritability. Instead of quashing the irritability and telling yourself it doesn’t matter, insist the children help clean their clutter. Enlist your spouse to tidy the area you spend the most time in. Be grateful for all the good in your life and dwell less on the irritating things.
- Take good care of yourself. Many times, it’s too easy to devote yourself to what others want and need and neglect to take care of you. It’s essential to prioritize taking good care of yourself. This is how you recharge and rejuvenate. Remember that it is not selfish to make time for you. It’s a necessity to help you enjoy life fully.
- As for what self-care involves, it may be anything that you find uplifting, exciting, restful, or engaging. Gardening, reading, cooking, hobbies, travel, a soothing bath, walking in nature, and spending time with loved ones and friends are some examples of good self-care.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals that help reduce stress, lower irritation, and help boost overall well-being. It’s a built-in way to lower stress.
- Set manageable goals. Instead of going after challenging, hard-to-achieve goals, create a list of desired ones you can achieve. Break each goal into small, manageable steps. Celebrate the successful completion of interim steps.
- Talk with trusted others. Avoid the trap of keeping things bottled up. Talk with those in your support system about what’s bothering you. Besides gaining encouragement, you may learn something useful.
When to Seek Professional Support
While each person reacts differently to life’s stressors, there comes a time when an inability to cope with the turmoil chronic irritability causes may indicate it’s time to get professional help. By working with a counselor or therapist you can learn what may be causing your irritability and develop practical ways for managing irritability.
If you’re experiencing difficulty with chronic irritability, our experts at Restore-Mental Health can help. Contact us anytime to discuss our programs and treatment options.