A symptom of depression

Anger happens, it’s just part of life. But if you have depression you can add anger to the list (along with sadness, fearfulness, trouble sleeping, and changes in appetite) of common depression symptoms.

“If you find you’re very short-tempered, irritable, grouchy, your fuse is short, it could be related to depression,” says Carol A. Bernstein, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City.

Depression treatment may lessen anger. But there are things you can do to blunt the effects of this intense and sometimes dangerous feeling.

Thomas Jefferson famously said, “When angry, count 10, before you speak; if very angry, 100.”

“Angry people are highly aroused and when people get aroused, they do and say things they later regret,” says Brad Bushman, PhD, professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

Counting (slowly) to whatever number seems appropriate gives your blood pressure and heart rate a chance to return to normal. “As time passes, arousal diminishes,” says Bushman.

Even if you don’t ultimately forget the incident, forgiving a person who has provoked you is an excellent way to subdue anger, says Bushman. Forgiveness can help you stop ruminating, which is when negative thoughts play over and over in your head like some horrible movie scene.

“Angry people can’t stop thinking about what made them angry. It’s that rumination that seems to be destructive,” he adds. “This doesn’t mean that you conclude that what another person did to you is okay. It just means that you’re not going to hold that against them and you’re not going to let it consume your life.”