Bipolar Anger: Why It Happens and How to Cope in 4 Steps

Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as simply BP, is a mental illness that can cause dramatic changes to your mood and energy levels, making it hard to complete day-to-day tasks. Before recently, the disorder was known as manic depression, but as we begin to understand more about bipolar, it has been categorized as something different entirely.

There are two types of bipolar disorder, labeled type one, and type two. Patients diagnosed with type one are placed in the category of needing immediate medical care, whereas those in type two suffer from a more manageable variation of the illness.

The unique thing about bipolar disorder in relation to other mental illnesses is that it is identified by deep depressive episodes, as well as intense euphoria. A person that suffers from BP can experience days, weeks, even months of mania, quickly followed by a crash and a severe depression. This is what makes the illness so difficult to predict. Despite being well-known for its impact on moods, bipolar also impacts a number of other things, including energy levels and the ability to concentrate.

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of bipolar is the high levels of irritability which can occur often in those who have the disorder. This not only makes it hard to live with but hard to be around. A bipolar sufferer may find themselves annoyed at the smallest of things. Although persistent anger isn’t a recognized bipolar disorder symptom, the constant and intense irritability could be perceived as anger and the two can be easily confused. Ultimately, a long spell of irritation can develop into anger and eventually into a rage.

In this article, we go over bipolar disorder in more detail, looking specifically at the emotion of anger. Keep reading for more information.

bipolar anger towards spouse

How to deal with bipolar anger

Bipolar and anger come hand-in-hand, and this can be incredibly isolating for sufferers of the condition. Bipolar anger outbursts are much more common during depressive episodes, and they require immeasurable amounts of patience from loved ones. Bipolar anger towards spouses can cause huge strains on relationships.

There are a few things that you can do to better manage your bipolar disorder and anger. Some are easier said than done, but keeping these tips in mind during an episode can make a real difference.

Your first step should be to try and identify what your triggers are. It may sometimes feel as though these emotions appear from nowhere, but there usually is an underlying trigger. Next time you find yourself overwhelmed with bipolar anger outbursts, try to look for a pattern in your behaviour and consider what may have caused it.

bipolar anger outbursts

How to control bipolar anger without medication

There is no shame involved in taking medication for a mental health disorder, and antidepressants and similar drugs are the most prescribed medications in the world. That said, it isn’t for everyone. If you want to control your bipolar anger outbursts without medical intervention, there are ways to do it.

Having a better understanding of your triggers and how you react will give you a better chance of being able to keep it under control. Another tip is to recognise what your calming techniques are – for some it’s listening to music, others it may be meditation. Either way, know what they are and use them when you need them.

If you wish to avoid medication completely, but still need help with bipolar and anger, consider attending therapy or counselling. Not only is this a proven technique for a wide variety of mental illnesses, but there is no medication involved and you will be given more ways to cope without it.

How to help someone with bipolar anger

Don’t feel guilty if you’re living with someone who has bipolar and some days feel harder than others. Bipolar anger towards a spouse, friend or family member is a common problem, and it takes a lot to work through this.

If the person with bipolar isn’t currently seeking medical or psychiatric help, encourage them to do so in a supportive way, without appearing patronising. If they are getting help but are still experiencing bipolar anger outbursts, there are ways that you can help.

Try your best to remain patient, as difficult as it may be at times. Instead of shouting and arguing back, suggest that your loved one talk about their feelings instead, and try to put a positive spin on things. It won’t always work, but it will show them that you’re there to help.

Encourage the use of recognised coping mechanisms. If there’s something you know helps to calm your loved one down during a bipolar anger outburst, try to point them in that direction when they need it.

bipolar disorder and anger

What triggers bipolar anger

Trying to look into specific triggers is difficult. Bipolar is a complex disorder, and every case is unique. Something that triggers one person could be completely different to the next, and there’s no recognised list of bipolar and anger causes or triggers.

It’s well-known that the loved ones of those living with bipolar can often be in the firing line, and this is because they are often identified as the bigger triggers. It can be something as small as saying the wrong thing, or even nothing at all, and that is an indication of how complicated this illness can be.

Once you have identified your individual triggers, it’s important to try your best to remove yourself from those situations. If stress is a trigger, for example, during a depressive episode you need to try to remain in a stress-free environment for the best chance of avoiding a bipolar anger outburst.

The use of prescribed medication, psychiatric help or even a combination of both is likely to reduce your response to triggers. Remember that you’re not suffering alone, and there are plenty of support groups out there to communicate with others that have bipolar.