Anger and Depression – Understanding and Managing the Connection
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Anger and depression are much more closely connected than most people might think. From an initial observation, it can certainly seem that the person prone to outbursts of rage, and the person who withdraws into themselves in misery have little in common. However, while the external reactions displayed by anger and depression look very different, the underlying causes,and emotion, are very much the same. It is simply the way that these emotions are expressed, or suppressed, that differs.
While it is clear that displays of anger obviously result from an experience of anger, what many people are not aware of is that depression is also largely a result of experiencing anger. When anger is not expressed, processed and released, it becomes suppressed. It is this suppressed anger (among other factors) that can lead to the experience of depression.
While being aware of our feelings is important for all of us, it is especially important for those of us who are prone to depression to note the relationship between anger and depression. Although anger is interwoven in the experience of depression, it may be hard to recognize. It is the fact that some of us are so unwilling or unable to face our anger that can cause it to become so deeply buried, and contribute to experiencing depression.
When one is in a depressed state, it can seem quite impossible to muster the strength needed to feel much other than despair and apathy, let alone a strong emotion like anger. However, to be able to notice, and actually allow ourselves to feel, anger is an important step in overcoming the hold that depression can take over our lives.
While anger and depression are both strongly connected to a feeling of loss of control, outright anger holds a closer position to empowerment, while depression is debilitating. Once anger is close to the surface, and is acknowledged for what it is, we are then in a position to process this emotion, and in doing so, be able to gain a sense of control.
If depression is an issue in your life, I encourage you to look within yourself for the underlying emotions that your depression may be masking. By discovering the emotions that have been suppressed, and have become buried under the weight of depression, you are then in a position of being able to seek to understand these emotions, and as a result, eventually release their power over you.
In seeking to cope with anger and depression, it is important to find ways of exploring and understanding the causes of our emotions. One way of processing emotions that I find very helpful is to sit down and write about what I am feeling. It doesn’t matter where I start; when I sense that all is not well in my emotional landscape, there is always a reason. Discovering that reason and its accompanying emotions goes a long way towards feeling better. As well as anger, some other emotions that can cause us to feel off balance include fear, disappointment, and sadness. The signal that all is not well can be irritability, tiredness, or just a general feeling of discontent.
Anger and depression both have a lot of potential to cause us distress, and this is why it is important to learn to tackle them head on, and not just hope that they will go away by themselves. This can be especially tough in the case of depression, as most people who are experiencing depression would rather do just about anything than confront difficult situations or feelings.
The good news is that facing and dealing with feelings does get easier with practice, but it is still something that most of us would rather not do. If there was a way of dealing with the causes of anger and depression by sipping cappuccino and reading novels, I would be first in line to do that! Dealing with feelings is not a really fun thing, but once I am doing it, I find that it is not as bad as I expected either. I think it is a bit like exercising. Often, there is a resistance to actually getting moving to do some exercise (or deal with some feelings), but once it is underway, it feels at least okay, and often feels good. Afterwards, too, my sense of wellbeing is always better than it was before.
Finding the right time to deal with emotions is important too. It is not always possible to take time to process emotions as they arise. Anger is an emotion that often surfaces while we are in the middle of interactions, or activities. Because anger is closer to the surface than depression, it can be highly prone to erupt suddenly. It is very common to experience anger when we are busy, and cannot immediately take the time to sit down and work on understanding the emotion and its causes. In these situations, I have found personally, and with people I have worked with, that talking to our anger can be an effective strategy.
Anger is not an enemy – it is a messenger telling us that something is wrong, either with the external circumstances of our lives, or with the thoughts and beliefs that we are holding. By learning to listen to the messages that our emotions can bring us, we are able to take steps to create changes that bring our lives more into line with what we need and want on a deep level. When you experience anger at a moment that you can’t stop to check in with your feelings, tell your anger that you hear it wants to tell you something, and that you will take the time later to listen. Then as soon as you can, make sure you do!
While anger and depression are not pleasant to experience, by endeavoring to understand our emotions and their causes, we can learn to manage them a whole lot better. By doing this, it is largely possible to prevent them creating the chaos in our lives that they are apt to do if left untended.
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