Are you involved in a close relationship with someone who occasional outbursts of temper at times shock and surprise you? Do you find yourself sometimes looking at your teenage son and wondering where all of this sudden rage could have come from, when you have provided him a happy home? Is your relationship with your wife one you would describe as loving and happy, if only it was not interrupted by her recurring bouts of irritability and anger over what seems to you like trivial things?
While people can and often do become overwhelmed by negative emotions that they're unable to handle without having major psychiatric disorder, there is also the possibility that your loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder – and that's what is causing these angry eruptions.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by shifting moods and emotional volatility. When a person with bipolar disorder is not well, they can be very reactive and more easily provoked into hidden outbursts of anger. Irritability and anger is one of the usual symptoms of bipolar episodes – in both depression and mania. What may seem like an abnormally explosive reaction to you may be something that the person with bipolar disorder in an episode may see as very natural, feeling that they had every right to be angry and express themselves in that way. When in an episode, a person with bipolar disorder usually does not have a perspective on the appropriateness of their reactions, and may often see their anger as being justifiable.
The thing is, everyone gets irritated and annoyed. It's just that people in the mid of a bipolar episode are especially volatile and express their irritability in a higher intensity than someone who is 'normal'.
Bipolar disorder can be hard to recognize when it has gone undiagnosed. One can generally expect emotional volatility and hostility from teenagers. Their hormones are out of control, their brains are still developing, and they are finding themselves in a difficult and uncomfortable transition period in their lives. It's natural for a teenager to be angry. It can be difficult to tell the difference between bipolar disorder and the natural discomfort of teenagers until they've aged a little, and have begun to exhibit regular patterns of recurrent depressions and manias. However, if you are concerned that your teenager's anger is an ongoing and uncontrollable problem, it's best to get him checked out by a doctor, psychiatrist and / or therapist.
While it's possible that repeating fits ofappropriate anger in your loved one may be a result of bipolar disorder, it's important not to jump to any conclusions. Only a qualified professional can make that diagnosis, and many 'normal' people simply can not handle their tempers, or do not care to. Outbursts of anger alone can not be used to make a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, many other signs and symptoms have to be present. There are other psychiatric disorders that can be characterized by angry outbursts, such as major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, schizoaffective disorder, cyclothymic disorder, substance induced mood disorder, and intermittent explosive disorder.
If your loved one can be encouraged to get help, you may both find out that it's a psychiatric disorder causing his or her angry outbursts. That information will help you both gain perspective and understanding. You will realize that his or her anger is not an attack on you – you did not cause theappropriate anger, it's the result of a mental illness. This knowledge will help you gain compassion for your loved one while supporting him or her in getting help. Realizing that your loved one's anger is coming from a major psychiatric disorder can help protect you emotionally from taking their anger personally. When your loved one reacts inappropriately in anger, you will be less likely to hold it against him or her, and your relationship will improve.