ANXIETY IN THE MIND: IRRITABILITY

Posted on December 9, 2009, under Anti Depressants-Sleeping Aid.

Anxiety commonly shows itself in irritability. We react too quickly and too much to all manner of minor frustrations. We become upset by things which would not normally disturb us. We are more sensitive to noise, and are easily irritated by it. The noises at work which we had not previously noticed become a source of irritation; and at home the noise of the children brings us to distraction. We tolerate it as long as we can, then suddenly let go. We punish the child too severely, and then immediately regret it.

If someone finds fault with what we have done, we normally take the criticism in stride. But when we are anxious, we overreact to the situation; we flare up, we say what we should not say, and then regret it. The girl in the restaurant attends to us in the usual way, but because we are tensed up we feel that she is unbearably slow. The mannerisms and quirks of our friends and relatives, which we once enjoyed, now irritate us. There soon develops an atmosphere of tension in the home. Members of the family become cautious; they are restrained, and no longer laugh arid joke openly for fear of triggering off this unnatural irritability. The anxious one senses that the others are acting differently toward him, he becomes still more on edge, and the cloud of misunderstanding deepens.

A young woman in her early thirties, extremely tense and aggressive, came to consultation on account of her intense irritability with her two young children. These were her exact words: “With her like she is how could I be relaxed?” “It is not as if I am completely ignorant. I have had experience with doctors and that makes me a bit doubtful.”

For some years her husband had been under treatment for a peptic ulcer which I thought might easily be related to his wife’s irritability.

Her state was so severe that I arranged for her admission to a hospital, but she was so irritable and aggressive that she promptly left against advice. However, she returned to me some months later, just as irritable as ever, but determined to seek help. It took her several sessions to learn to do the relaxing mental exercises. She then underwent an extraordinary change in personality; she could smile and be pleasant in a way that had not seemed possible before. She learned to cope with the children and tolerate frustration without undue irritability.

*8/57/2*

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