How to Recognize Irritation and Anxiety
Self-harm is mentioned below.
When I was at university earning my degree I was a busy girl. I was attending school full-time, working three part-time jobs and skydiving on the side. There wasn’t a lot of time for dilly-dally.
And, of course, through this I was also getting treatment for bipolar disorder. This was at a time when treatment has started becoming successful but we were still tweaking things to try and get the most from the medication. As most lab rats know, this means upping the dose.
And, one day, I was at work and suddenly found myself needing to excuse myself to the lady’s room so I could slice open my ankle.
Irritation and Anxiety
Irritation, and I mean severe, rip-your-head-off irritation, is one of the least recognized symptoms of bipolar disorder and I believe it is closely related to anxiety, another symptom that is rarely talked about. We talk about being “up” or “down” but not what those words really mean.
And severe irritation or anxiety can happen either in a depressed or a manic/hypomanic state. This is recognized in the DSM by the official symptom “psychomotor agitation” which indicates:
“. . . unintentional and purposeless motions that stem from mental tension and anxiety of an individual. This includes pacing around a room, wringing one's hands, pulling off clothing and putting it back on and other similar actions. In more severe cases, the motions may become harmful to the individual, such as ripping, tearing or chewing at the skin around one's fingernails or lips to the point of bleeding.” ~Wikipedia
And for me, part of this is self-harm.
Recognizing Irritation and Anxiety
At the time I was fairly new to the bipolar diagnosis and I didn’t realize I was having a mood stemming both from my disorder and a medication side effect, all I knew was that I had to cut myself – now. It would have been helpful if someone had warned me about this possibility but warnings are difficult to give as every patient is different.
Nevertheless, irritation and anxiety are serious symptoms and can do serious damage to yourself and your relationships with others (and say, your job) so they are important to recognize. Anxiety is also highly correlated with suicide.
To recognize irritation and anxiety watch for situations that are out of place for you like:
- Overly aggressive behavior
- Extreme annoyance over small infractions
- Abusive behavior
- Wanting to isolate yourself
- The feeling of “bugs crawling under your skin” (you’ll know it when you feel it)
- The desire to perform repetitive actions for no reason
- The desire to self-harm
Any of these should be reported to your doctor and certainly if you’re in danger of harming yourself or someone else they should be dealt with immediately. Do not wait to see if they go away. Waiting may be too late. And it’s much better to regret going to the doctor than to regret hurting yourself or someone else.
Tracy, N. (2012, February 16). How to Recognize Irritation and Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/02/recognition-of-irritation-and-anxiety
Author: Natasha Tracy
thanks so much
i've got the bugs right now
trying to figure it out
i'm diagmnosed w/bipolar 2
And last nite/today i'm having an asthma attack /panic attack/ bugs / you name it. maybe hypomania. /bought a few things on ebay. kept it to under $100 tho. trying to ride the horse without getting thrown. trying to calm myself. get it together. i start back to school next week.
oh hey. rereading this-yeah-it's definitely an episode-guess i better call.thought i could ride it out . . . really wanted to take care of it myself. should knoow better. i've been diagnosed for 20 + years-tho my sister says she thinks i've had bipolar disorder for 40 years-heygoes to show you can live a long life w/this stinkin disease. but it aint always easy. thanks for listening-gotta go make a phone call to the pdoc
Since menopause, I noticed extreme bouts of anger and irritability. Sometimes I have days where I am irritable about everything. I often try to subdue it with a couple glasses of wine. Started Prozac a month ago, and this seemed to temper the worst of the extreme irritability. But, I generall feel depressed and irritability comes and goes. First moments of awakening are always anxious, depressed.
Well, luckily, this site is full of help. Of course, you can check out the various sections of the site, under Communities (above) for information on all sorts of disorders.
For personal support, I recommend you check out the forum: http://www.healthyplace.com/index.php?option=com_agora&Itemid=82
I hope that helps.
- Natasha Tracy
Anyway, I was reminded of a time I was in the psych ward, very irritable for days. I was called into a clinical team meeting with half a dozen doctors, psych nurses, OT, etc. One said, "Why are you so irritable?" "Because I'm depressed!" I snapped. They still didn't understand. Sigh.
It really is up to individuals to understand the full impact of their condition, including a symptom like irritability which can so easily be mistaken for a personality trait. It isn't, and it can be controlled, but we have to realize why it exists first and treat it appropriately.
Thanks for writing this to bring attention to a symptom which is often overlooked but so important to quality of life.
Happy to help.
Happy I could help.
In my experience this isn't something that doctors ask about so it isn't something that patients know about. But knowledge is power, so hopefully this will help facilitate a change for you.
Overly aggressive behavior is sometimes misdiagnosed as a bipolar symptom, or misassociated with bipolar, autism and other disorders.