Irritability involves feelings of anger or frustration that often arise over even the smallest of things.

While irritability can be usual and everyone experiences it occasionally, it may also indicate an underlying condition.

Even though occasional irritability is regular, constant irritability can adversely affect our relationships and daily experiences. Continually snapping at friends after the slightest affront may damage these friendships. As an emotional and behavioral symptom in humans, someone is considered irritable when they have a short temper, become easily frustrated, or feel irritable or grumpy.

Irritability may be a symptom of several things, including stress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use, anxiety, bipolar disorder, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), sleep deprivation, autism spectrum disorders, dementia, chronic pain, and schizophrenia.

People who feel irritable don’t necessarily experience all of these symptoms or feel symptoms all of the time. They might feel fine in one moment, but a minor annoyance might set them off. The ensuing reaction may seem out of proportion to the situation. This often leads to further tension that makes the individual even more sensitive and responsive to stress.


During childhood, more irritable moods can be expected during specific periods of development. However, they can also indicate a condition such as anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).


Stress, defined as emotional tension or mental strain, is all too common of a feeling for many of us.

Stress is arguably the most common reason behind irritability, and it crops up when we’re faced with demands and threats. You may also experience stress when you feel helpless or out of control, leading to irritability. Think about it, when was the last time you experienced irritability? What caused it? Were you stuck in traffic, unable to connect with a loved one, or faced with a seemingly-impossible challenge? Each of the circumstances described above shows how stress and irritability are closely linked and relatively common.

Feeling overwhelmed by life stress is every day, but prolonged stress can lead to emotional exhaustion. Recognizing the early signs of stress and taking steps to relieve this feeling can help people avoid burnout.


  •   Sleep and mood are closely connected; poor or inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress, while healthy sleep can enhance well-being
  •   Sleep affects mood. After a sleepless night, you may be more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress. Once you sleep well, your spirit often returns to normal.
  •   Sleeplessness and mood disorders are closely linked. And it can work both ways – sleep loss can affect your mood, and your mood can affect how much and how well you sleep. 
  •   Getting enough sleep and the correct type of sleep is vital for our overall health and wellbeing. While you sleep, your body supports healthy brain function and maintains physical fitness. And for children and young people, sleep is how their bodies and minds grow and develop.
  •   When you do not get enough sleep, you feel tired, you find it hard to concentrate and remember things, and you may be grumpy. Lack of sleep can also impair your judgment and impact your physical coordination. So not getting enough sleep affects how you feel, think, work, learn and get along with others.
  •   Children and teenagers need 9–10 hours of sleep a night. Younger children tend to go to sleep earlier and wake earlier. As children grow into teenagers, they get tired later and sleep in later.
  •   Adults need around 8 hours of sleep each night. We tend to need less sleep as we get older.

Some tips on getting a good night’s sleep

If you’ve been having trouble getting enough good sleep, the good news is there are many ways you can improve your sleep habits. Try these tips:

  • Get a routine and stick to it. Try going to bed around the same time every night and getting up at the same time each morning. 
  • Avoid drinking coffee and alcohol too close to bedtime. And finish eating at least two hours before your head hits the pillow.
  • Keep TVs and electronic mobile devices out of your bedroom. 
  • Make your bedroom a haven; make sure your bed is comfortable. Turn the lights down as you get into bed.
  • Try some simple meditation, like closing your eyes for 5–10 minutes and focusing on taking deep, slow breaths. 
  • Enjoy a warm bath.  
  • Don’t lie awake watching the clock. If you are tossing and turning, try getting up and reading a book for half an hour or so before trying to go to sleep again.

And if you still can’t sleep?

So what can you do if you can’t sleep when you want to, or if you can’t stay asleep? 

The first step is to talk to your General Practioner. They will help you work out whether a common condition is affecting your sleep, such as:

  • insomnia 
  • jet lag and shift working
  • sleepwalking, nightmares, and night terrors
  • restless legs 
  • snoring 
  • sleep apnoea.

Your General Practitioner can talk to you about some non-medical treatments for sleep disorders, such as relaxation training.

Your General Practioner may also prescribe you medication or sleeping tablets, which can help you fall asleep. But medication will not be enough in the long run. It can help you fall asleep, but it won’t help you with an underlying problem like stress or anxiety. It also becomes less effective over time (as your body gets used to it). And it can be addictive. 


Depression is understood as a mood disorder, an impairment in regulating emotions. It is often characterized by feelings of hopelessness and sadness and a loss of interest in hobbies or other activities typically enjoyed.

Despite being increasingly recognized as a factor in depression, irritability is not always linked to depression in psychological literature and thus is sometimes overlooked or mistakenly linked to other conditions such as bipolar disorder. There is also some misconception that irritability as a symptom of depression affects adolescents. The reality is that behavior such as persistently starting arguments or being overly critical or mean can be experienced by people living with depression in any age group.

Irritability is often not associated with depression but can be a striking symptom. Irritability does sometimes have an open source, as in the case of someone forgetting a necessary appointment, or getting to work, only to discover that you’ve left a pivotal document at home-an hour’s drive away. Persistent, prolonged, and unprovoked irritability, however, is not typical, and should not be regarded as such. Instead, a period of prolonged irritability may be your body’s way of alerting you to the presence of an imbalance and a need for help.

How to Manage Depression-related Irritability?

1. Decide how you want to react.

2. Talk to people you trust, and ask for accountability.

3. Seek answers through meditation.

4. Reach out for professional support.


Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear that can be mild or severe.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview.

During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.

But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.

Anxiety causes you to feel negative emotions often. It also provides less tolerance for additional stress and mental energy. The more severe your anxiety, the more it is possible that irritability will occur depending on the type of anxiety and your own experience with it..

It’s not unlike depression, where your mind is genuinely altered to have not necessarily negative thoughts, but worrisome thoughts that make it hard to cope with daily life. Many people with anxiety are “in their own head” 24 hours a day, trying as hard as they can to feel happier again.

There are two types of irritability to those close to you:

  •   Physically Close: This is when you become more irritable when someone is nearby. It’s the reaction to feeling like you are without space to do this on your own, or like there is someone around you that is causing you more pressure and possibly making your anxiety worse.
  •   Emotionally Close: This is when you are more irritable around those that you care about. In a way, this type of irritability can cause added stress, because you regret the things you say and it can drive a wedge between you and the person you care for.

How to Respond to the Irritability caused by Anxiety

Always Communicate 

Apologize Quickly

Explain What You Need

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

PMS is a collection of physical and emotional symptoms that start a week or so before your period. It makes some people feel moodier than usual and others bloated and achy.

Experts aren’t sure about the exact cause of PMS, but it’s likely linked to hormonal fluctuations that happen during the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Ovulation happens about halfway through your cycle. During this time, your body releases an egg, causing estrogen and progesterone levels to drop. A shift in these hormones can lead to both physical and emotional symptoms.

Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels also influence serotonin levels. This is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood, sleep cycle, and appetite. Low levels of serotonin are linked to feelings of sadness and irritability, in addition to trouble sleeping and unusual food cravings — all common PMS symptoms.

Mood swings are one of the most common and most severe PMS symptoms.

How to manage it:

·  Track your symptoms

·  Hormonal birth control

·  Natural remedies

·  Lifestyle changes: Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep

·  Medication

   SSRIs block the absorption of serotonin. This increases the amount of serotonin in your brain.

Other antidepressants that work on serotonin might also help treat PMS mood swings. These include:

  •   duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  •   venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Other causes of Irritability are Low blood sugar, Hormonal imbalances. These can be remediated by seeing a physician and getting professional help.