Anger and Mental Illness

November 5, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

I'm pretty sure I have never written on this topic before. In nearly one-and-a-half years, I have never written exclusively about mental illness and anger. That sort of makes me a bit angry at myself. Just a touch! I think, and perhaps you agree, that the journey we make from the diagnosis of mental illness to recovery is full of anger.

Visualizing Anger

Close your eyes. Or don't. Think of the word anger. Think of the words anger and mental illness. Smash them together. What does anger look like to you? It burns bright red on my end and I picture the time I was sick: the addiction that nearly killed me and anger over realizing mental illness would always be a part of me. Above all, anger over the words "bipolar disorder" and "addiction."

And then it sort of drifts away and I am reminded of my life now. A life in which I am not so angry. But it wasn't easy arriving at this place. It's still a struggle, but with struggle comes acceptance.

Why is Anger Connected to Mental Illness?

The connection is different for all of us but let's look at a few, perhaps obvious, reasons:

  • Anger over the initial diagnosis of mental illness.
  • In connection: feelings of anger, frustration and confusion, once we are told we will need to learn to live with a mental illness.
  • Once we begin our road to acceptance and recovery memories of our actions when we were ill, before we were stable, can make us angry. We might be angry at ourselves for acting like we did, or at other people for allowing us to act this way--misplaced anger.
  • Angry that we need to focus on self-care for the rest of our lives in order to become well. It's a lot of work!
  • The process to recovery can make us angry because it might seem like the world is going on without us.

Okay, there's a few reasons and please share your own experience. We all have a different experience with anger when living with and recovering from mental illness. But what can we do with these feelings?

Moving Past Anger and Embracing Recovery

Yeah, I know. That heading makes me a little angry. It's so bloody positive, right? But it's true. If we can deal with the anger that arrives with mental illness and move past it, we can recover fully.

Unresolved anger, trauma resulting from untreated mental illness, makes recovering from mental illness more difficult. Having said that, how can we work through feelings of anger?

  • Accept feelings of anger as a 'normal' part of recovery.
  • Talk to those in your inner circle about your feelings. Feedback is important! They will probably validate your feelings and validation is important.
  • If need be, seek out talk therapy.
  • Try not to throw things or swear at people. I am jotting this down.

There are plenty of ways we can approach feelings of anger. Share your experience: What has made you angry on your journey to recovery? How have you tackled the feelings surrounding it?

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, November 5). Anger and Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

August, 15 2014 at 1:04 am

I have chronic major depressive disorder and have received treatment for over 30 years. Have gotten shock treatments, transcranial magnetic stimulation. countless medicines, etc., etc. only to have disease return again and again. I am 76 years old and am very angry with this disease. I don't do drugs or alcohol and would love to cure this disease. The quality of life I'm experiencing during an episode is rough.

January, 19 2013 at 7:09 am

I have borderline personality ,anger is a tough issue for me ,i wish i didnt have the illness

November, 5 2012 at 8:36 am

Anger is complex... My first symptom of depression is anger. A lot, red pure anger, I guess because I hate feeling depressed, and I also feel so ashamed every time I get depressed again.
So, for me is like burning lava inside of me, and control it, in that moments, is very hard, so usually end up hurting someone.
I am not good talking to people, and I suck asking for help, so the only way I know how to deal with it is doing exercise and listening to music, alone, for days or weeks, until I feel at peace again.
Let me say, that usually I am a pretty calm person, I try to appreciate little things and good days, 'cause can't take them for granted.
Regarding being bipolar, I usually feel irritated because I am not good setting limits for my on health. For example, I know I have to sleep well, if I don't do it i feel anxious, anxious leads to mania, and continuous stress, mania and continuo stress leads to hallucinations and delusions. I know it, I try to do it. But if someone asks me for a favor, and I am very busy (pretty common) instead of saying no, I said yes and don't sleep to be able to do everything.
that makes me angry. specially when I start feeling so stressed and hearing stuff, just because I didn't say no, in order to do what I know i have to.
Does that makes sense???

Leave a reply