What is irritability?
Irritability occurs when a person responds excessively to physical or emotional stimuli.9
How does the irritable person feel?
Irritability is a very uncomfortable feeling. It is opposite to the feelings of euphoria and intense pleasure that could also occur in bipolar mania. The person suffering from irritability feels very stressed.
To the observer, irritable behavior may seem exaggerated. The person appears to be over-reacting. The person's experience, however, is intense. The feelings are urgent and important.
How can I recognize this symptom?
The person may present as argumentative, demanding, intrusive, hostile, impatient, angry, or over-sensitive.
The person takes most things personal. The person is easily and quickly offended at seemingly neutral comments. The person may feel threatened when faced with normal, harmless stimuli, and as a result, may respond aggressively.
The person may become angry quicker than usual.23 Intense feelings of anger may not be controllable and possibly results in verbal or physical aggression.
How does irritability impact life?
A person who normally is respectful, careful and socially appropriate may find themselves arguing with strangers over trivial matters. Their demanding and intrusive behavior may prevent them from creating new relationships.
The person who suffers from irritability and other mania symptoms may initiate altercations that result in verbal or physical disputes. The person may find themselves in trouble with the law.15
The person may not realize the consequences of their words, behavior, or arguments. To the observer this seemingly selfish, unloving, and arrogant behavior may be unacceptable.
Like most symptoms of bipolar disorder, irritability can have disastrous effects on relationships and quality of life. Continued irritable behavior may lead to job loss, terminated relationships, and marital conflict.
By: Daniel Droogendijk, RPN
My wife said there was no butter. I exploded and threw the milk against the wall. I never used to react like this. I'd always say, "no problem". During my manic episode, I felt like it was the last straw. No butter, no fantastic sandwich, and now no milk! I felt like breaking a window. I never thought I'd go to the doctor for a thing like this, but his treatment helped.
~ Alayna, New York, NY