Your question: “I find myself more and more angry lately. My doctor suggested that my anger might be stress-related or that it could be depression. I don’t see how my anger could be tied to depression. Can you help me understand this?”
Can anger and depression be tied to one another? In the Journal of Counseling and Development, in an article titled, “Gender Differences in the Relationship of Anger and Depression in a Clinical Sample,” by Jody Newman, Dale Fuqua, Elizabeth Gray, and David B. Simpsonone, one of their prominent findings was that it has long been believed that there is an association with anger and depression.
“For some time clinicians have speculated that in some cases, depression may actually represent anger turned inward.”
Now I don’t know if that is the case in your situation, but perhaps the depressive symptoms that you’re feeling may be anger turned inward. You should ask yourself if there have been things that you have been suppressing or been unable to express? Are you experiencing emotions or frustrations that you’ve been trying to shove down?
In addition to an overall feeling of sadness, other symptoms of depression can include lower energy or not sleeping well. It can also include over or under eating. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s possible that you may have turned your frustrations inward and said, “You know what, there’s nothing I can do about it!”
When individuals feel hopeless, it’s not uncommon for them to feel anger. If that is the case, then I suggest considering what you’re angry at. Are there episodes or situations or circumstances that are contributing to your feelings? For example, let’s say that you feel disconnected from your significant other and maybe you do something that hurts your spouse. You feel angry, but the anger is more at yourself than it is at your spouse. Maybe you don’t know how to talk with her or you don’t know what to say, so you turn your anger inwards and that triggers your feelings of depression.
Being able to look at what you’re angry at could be very beneficial. One way to do that is to get a journal and write down the things that you feel angry about so you have a more clear understanding of what you’re feeling.
The other part is learning how to manage stress–learning how to put your stress in a place–what we call putting it in a box–so you can understand and look at it. And as you put it in that box and you identify the reasons you are feeling stress, you take the issues out one at a time rather than dealing with everything in the box at once. Take the issues out one at a time and try to deal with them. In that way you’re taking more charge of the stress and of the internal anger that you are experiencing.
Many factors can become obstacles as we strive for closeness in our relationships. I encourage you to take my assessment at Discover and Change for more ideas on how to improve your relationships. In spite of obstacles, true intimacy can be yours!