4 Things about Bipolar Anger You Might Not Know

Last Updated: 17 Jun 2020

Defining the link between anger and bipolar disorder isn’t straightforward. Here are four things to learn:

Man with bipolar angry and feeling rage - 4 Things About Bipolar Anger You Might Not Know

#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.”

Read more on Dealing with Bipolar Anger:
4 Strategies for Managing Bipolar Anger and Irritability
Anger Management 101: 7 Tips to Calm Your Rage


About the author
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.
  1. My Psychiatrist died in a car accident in June. I just had my first visit with new Dr and he has never heard of Bipolar Rage and thus doesn’t think it exists. He tells me that my diagnosis should be depression with anger issues that can all be resolved with psychotherapy. He interviewed me for 40 minutes and came up with this. I know I am Bipolar one. I have been for many years. Latest confirmation of this diagnosis was when I had a psychotic episode and was hospitalized for 8 days. Now that Dr new me for 7 of those days. Before I totally drop this new Dr, where do I tell him to look for evidence that Bipolar anger issues?

  2. That doesn’t necessarily point to BIpolar. That sounds like abuse.

  3. I suffer from Bipolar I and it can be living hell even when I take medications on a regular basis. I love my wife dearly and never would do anything to hurt her. I make contact with doctor on regular basis. I called immediately after I smashed my computer mouse with a hammer and upsetting my wife. I don’t know if this is part if BP 1 or what.
    I know I have to do whatever it takes to get it taken care of.

    1. hello. this happened to me yesterday with my significant other. I have been swinging back and forth between anger and sadness and pretty much almost destroyed my computer yesterday from being so angry. you are not alone. it’s a living hell sometimes to deal with.

      1. I have had uncontrollable anger outbursts since childhood. I am 60 years old now, and my grandson has been diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder. In researching his symptoms and trying to help my family figure out what was going on with him, I realize I have MANY of the symptoms; always have. If I could finally know why I’m so disturbed, after 60 years, it would be such a relief. It has monumentally messed up my life and the lives of those I love most. I wonder – am I bi-polar? How do I go about finding out?

  4. It’s all good when your on the outside looking in. But to never know how your going to feel from one moment to the next or how so many people are ignorant to what it’s like! I am BP2 and I have rage issues irritability and don’t know why I feel like that. Also talking ahead of your thinking and you get confused often! I’m sorry you’ve had nasty experiences with people but no ones perfect it’s a life long mental illness try having that tied around your neck it’s suffocating

    1. I have dealt with this all my life . The past three years I have know what I have . Bp1 I have a seasonal trauma .I get so aggravated around fall .my father just passed and a lot has been going on in my life really hurtful triggers . This time I knew it was coming I felt everything inside of me ready to crawl out . I brought it to my partners attention but it was to late for her to be there for me . I had already aggravated her and she ignored my needs left the home . Without telling me and refusing to answer her phone Leaving me with my newborn when she arrived home. I had lost it yelled and screamed said some awful things . The next day I removed myself from the home to calm down but I was already manic I wanted to come back home but kept arguing nonsense till she couldn’t even allow me back. I torn my family apart manic for two plus weeks and now as I start coming into my depression I don’t have the wife or baby to come home and come down To . the feelings inside of me are nonstop on and off . Trying so hard to explain to my partner how much hurt I feel and feel the hurt that I have done . So being manic trying to come down not being with my newborn or the wife ?. Just wanting to be able to breathe again

  5. Can understand everyone
    Am dealing with similar
    Farther of my children is …..undiagnosed something
    Either bipolar or schizophrenia
    Symptoms are all of what you lovley people have described.
    Anger ,egg shell rages , verybally nasty frequently .. Mean with his time …unavailable emotional towards me , couldn’t give me time of day …unless its for sexual needs.
    Many things.

    1. That doesn’t necessarily point to BIpolar. That sounds like abuse.

      1. Look into covert narcissism and borderline personalities (they are often under CPSD). My children’s father is BD1 and I have seen it all, including psychosis.
        Over the last 10-15 years or so, I have noticed lots and lots of BD2 diagnosis (also I’ve had this said to me…”well, they say I’m at least a little bit Bipolar”) I’ve had many friends ask my advice on living with someone who has BD. They were all asking in reference to someone in their lives who was BD2. The most consistent problem: that they were MEAN and angry, and mostly at their nearest and dearest. The other ‘myth’ i repeatedly heard was, “well, you know, they worst to the people closest to them.” I was shocked to hear that emotional and coercive abuse was being labeled as BD. I’ve known people spending years at therapy trying to figure out how to not ‘trigger’ BD rage!!!!!
        My advice: get a supportive therapist and practice setting firm boundaries. Make it very clear what you will allow in your space. Never be afraid to call the police.

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