Irritability, simply put, is excessive, negative reaction to things around you. There are a lot of causes of it; it might be part of a bigger condition, such as alcoholism or withdrawal from other drugs and addictions, to just a lack of sleep. It can also be a symptom of a bigger mental disorder such as schizophrenia or General Anxiety Disorder.

Whatever the cause of irritability is, it can certainly have a lasting impact on your life. Depending on just how bad it is, it can get in the way of your everyday life. Those who experience irritability can spend a lot of time obsessing over things; for instance, if someone in another booth is humming while you’re trying to have lunch, you might become so irritated and obsessed with thinking of that hummer that you are unable to finish or enjoy your meal.

How Irritability Can Harm Us

Irritability may seem like something small, and it’s definitely an issue that affects a lot of people on some level. Not everyone who experiences it necessarily has a bigger issue causing it. When it comes down to it, though, irritability is an emotional problem, and that can cause a wide range of problems, both for you experiencing it and for your loved ones and anyone else around that has to interact with you when you are irritable. It can cause you to push people away who are doing things that aggravate your condition, even if under normal circumstances you wouldn’t mind what they are doing.

On a more personal level, those who are constantly irritable can find themselves physically and emotionally drained. If you spend a lot of time obsessing over whatever it is that’s making you irritable, you won’t have the energy for anything else in the long run, which can affect your jobs and enjoyment of things they like. Irritability is often a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which can make it worse; if you have OCD tendencies and experience irritability when you don’t get to do something or have things exactly how you want them, it can lead to much harsher reactions than simply sitting and obsessing over it. Irritability can quickly turn into anger under the wrong circumstances, and anger can turn into physically lashing out, either on you, others, or on physical objects. Punching through a wall might seem like a good idea at the time, but it is not a good long-term way to deal with things.

How Irritability Affects Other Relationships

Depending on the level of irritability you’re experiencing, it can have a wide range of effects on your relationships. If it’s just a small amount of it, others might not even notice, or they might even think it’s reasonable. After all, being irritated that someone is late for a meeting or other social gathering is completely okay, and only the mellowest of us are never, ever irritated by something.

However, if you’ve found that irritability ends up making you snap and lash out at others, it can have a heavy impact on those around you. Friends and family should be concerned about you, but it’s also common to not think there’s anything wrong; after all, in your mind, it’s perfectly reasonable to be acting the way you are. Many people with emotional problems don’t see them for what they are, simply because they don’t know how other people’s minds work. But someone experiencing irritability has to understand that it can make them seem hostile to others, especially if what triggers it is something completely mundane that no one else ever really notices.

Relationships can become strained after prolonged irritability, especially if it ends up being something you experience every day. You aren’t selfish for experiencing irritability, but it is a condition that makes someone heavily focus on what they want, rather than what might actually be reasonable.

How Therapy Can Help

The first thing to note is that irritability is often a symptom of something else, though not necessarily a mental condition. If you go to therapy and find that your psychologist thinks you could start feeling better if you got more sleep or started eating better, take it to heart and try those before trying to dig further into it.

However, it can be symptom of a deeper issue. Going to therapy and talking through everything, including family history, can let you know that you might be experiencing something much worse. For instance, if your family has a history of schizophrenia, going undiagnosed can be a lot harder on you, and you can end up experiencing much worse symptoms than irritability. You might not necessarily have a condition that will require medication; if you consistently speak with a therapist who can help you sort out your problems, it’s entirely possible that you can come up with a strategy to deal with the irritability yourself.

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