Everyone gets upset from time to time. That’s normal.
But those suffering from bipolar anger experience a different type of rage. Bipolar anger can make a person lash out and put themselves or others at risk.
Bipolar disorder is a neurobiological brain affliction that affects 1% (or 2.3 million) of the American population. It produces drastic mood swings that make a person experience mania (severe highs) and depression (severe lows).
In addition to mood fluctuations, bipolar disorder can lead to aggressive outbursts known as bipolar anger.
If you or someone you love suffers from bipolar anger, you are in the right place. Let’s review the signs of bipolar anger and the best ways to cope with an outburst.
What Is Bipolar Anger?
Bipolar anger most commonly occurs during the manic period. Mania creates a shift in energy, behavior, and activity levels. It also leads to an increase in irritability, which is the driving factor in a bipolar outburst.
When a person is on-edge, they can be easily triggered. A simple request or a barking dog is enough to send the person into an angry fit.
A 2017 study of bipolar participants found that over the course of three months:
- 62.4% experienced irritability
- 76.4% endured frequent agitation
- 34% observed severe anxiety, irritability, and agitation
Bipolar anger can stem from specific triggers, but it can also occur for no particular reason. Common triggers include changes to routine, getting too little sleep, and traveling to new places.
Bipolar Anger Symptoms
Bipolar anger comes during the manic stages of bipolar disorder. Signs of a manic episode include:
- Disorientation or disjointed thought patterns
- Impaired judgment
- Speech disruptions
- Psychosis (including delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations)
- Racing thoughts
- Extreme excitability
- Recklessness (physically, sexually, and financially)
During these high periods, bipolar patients juggle a variety of thoughts and emotions. This can be overwhelming and leads to irritability that causes an angry outburst.
People suffering from bipolar anger will:
- Be easily upset
- Refuse help
- Show signs of aggression or annoyance
- Physically assault others (including punching, slapping, and kicking)
- Harm themselves (such as scratching or hair-pulling)
- Use inappropriate language
Bipolar anger is often directed at others, but it can also turn inward. When this occurs, the patient may be at risk of causing serious self-harm.
How to Manage Bipolar Anger
Bipolar anger distorts emotions and causes a loss of control. Signs you suffer from bipolar anger include:
- People avoiding you or not inviting you to social gatherings
- Family and friends tiptoeing around you to prevent an outburst
- Frequent reprimanding at work
- Loss of friends
- Lack of disagreement from others to prevent an argument
Recognizing the signs of bipolar is the first step. The next step is to teach yourself how to calm down and determine what you need to do to prevent an outburst. While you may not be able to control what triggers the anger, you can control your reactions.
Keep Up With Medications and Therapy
Bipolar disorder does not have a cure, but there are ways to treat its symptoms.
Work with professionals to determine a suitable bipolar treatment. Whatever your counselor prescribes, from medication to cognitive behavioral therapy, stick with it. Continuing your treatment enables you to manage your disorder and prevent angry outbursts.
Release Stress in Healthy Ways
Finding and incorporating ways to naturally alleviate stress can ease symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Methods to manage and release stress include:
- Taking supplements (such as green tea, Ashwagandha, and lemon balm)
- Inhaling stress-relieving essential oils (like rose, lavender, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, and Frankincense)
- Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake
- Chewing gum
- Taking a hot bath
Nearly half of all Americans report stress has a negative impact on their personal and professional lives. Take action to prevent stress from triggering your bipolar anger.
Write Down Potential Triggers
Purchase a blank notebook and keep it nearby. Whenever you experience intense irritability, jot down what occurred. Make a note of everything leading up to your anger as well as your environment.
Review your journal entries. Look for patterns and commonalities. Is there a particular person, place, or thing that repeatedly makes you angry?
If the answer is yes, you have identified a trigger. Once you recognize what makes you frustrated, you can control bipolar anger by avoiding or preventing triggers.
Coping With Bipolar Anger in a Loved One
In America, 40% of marriages end in divorce. For relationships where one partner suffers from bipolar disorder, 90% end in divorce.
It is difficult to love someone suffering from bipolar disorder. But it is not impossible. Coping with this mental illness requires patience, support, and understanding.
Remind Yourself Where the Anger Is Directed
It can be easy to feel as if your loved one is attacking you during a bipolar anger episode. But you must remind yourself the frustration is not aimed at something you did or said.
Instead of getting defensive, take a step back from the situation. Leave the room, let your loved one calm down, and revisit the topic later. Try to pinpoint the reason for the attack together and come up with ways to prevent another outburst.
Listen and Engage
When your loved one wants to talk, become their rock.
Actively listen as they describe their emotions and thoughts. In many cases, explaining what is going on can help your loved one cope with bipolar anger and prevent another outburst.
Encourage bipolar treatment. Cheer on your loved ones when they make progress. Help them stick with their medications and hold them accountable for therapy sessions.
Ask your loved ones how they are feeling. If they are not doing well with the treatment, encourage them to talk to a specialist about making adjustments or trying a new approach.
Treatments for Improving Mental Health
Bipolar anger is scary. The more you familiarize yourself with its symptoms and coping methods, the better you and your loved ones can control the outbursts and move forward.
If you or someone you know is suffering from bipolar episodes, our team of qualified specialists can help.