Defining the link between anger and bipolar disorder isn’t straightforward. Here are four things to learn:
#1 Effects Are Significant
Bipolar anger or rage is a side of the disorder that has long passed under the radar screen. This uncontrolled anger has destroyed the marriages, families, and personal relationships of many people with bipolar. It has ruined their careers and left them emotionally isolated.
#2 Mild to Wild
Anger stemming from bipolar disorder can range from “mild to wild” … and, many times, there is no great trigger—or only a disproportionate trigger that wouldn’t typically set off most people. For example, in a situation that people without a bipolar diagnosis would consider only an irritation, people experiencing bipolar anger will react with significant and extremely angry behaviors.
#3 Defining What Anger Really Is
Experts are careful to distinguish between the odd angry outburst and the long-simmering anger and rage of bipolar anger, sometimes lasting over several days during both manic episodes and irritated states of depression. When someone is in a manic episode, mood changes can swing from irritability to euphoria to depression—all within less than a half hour. Many times, people will just wake up with a feeling of anger that they can’t explain or shake.
#4 “Anger Attacks”
In 2005, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that 40 percent of patients with bipolar had experienced significant levels of irritability within a one-week period. In 2004, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders reported that at least a third of bipolar patients described angry outbursts called “anger attacks.”
Tanya Hvilivitzky has spent almost 30 years in the communications field—a career that has included stints as an investigative journalist, magazine managing editor, corporate communications director, and researcher/writer. She has been with bp Magazine and esperanza Magazine since 2016, serving in roles such as interim editor and, currently, the features editor. She also writes for the bpBUZZ section of bphope.com, where she synthesizes complex information into a format that both inspires and informs.
As an award-winning writer/editor, she received the Beyond Borders Media Award for her 2012 investigative exposé about human trafficking. Her work on this important topic also earned the Media Freedom Award “Honouring Canada’s Heroes” from the Joy Smith Foundation to Stop Human Trafficking.
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