What Is Irritability?

Irritability are feelings that arise due to being frustrated or angry. In most cases it is over small matters and presents as quick excitability to annoyance. If irritability presents in excess, it may be due to underlying conditions of mental health disorders and/or medical issues present. Here is a list to name a few:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
● Substance use
Bipolar disorder
● Premenstrual syndrome
● Autism
● Dementia
● Chronic Pain
● Diabetes
● Low blood sugar
● Hormonal changes

Identifying That You Are Irritable

Irritability can present with a mood of oversensitivity, agitation, frustration, and annoyance. A thought process of confusion or difficulty concentrating can be present. Mental difficulties with making accommodations, planning, or changing plans. Physical symptoms of excessive sweating, fatigue, increased breathing rate, and rapid heartbeat.

You may have irritability if you have experienced the above presentation and/or also finding yourself to be short tempered, become easily frustrated, feel grouchy and experience tension with others.


Irritability can be a symptom of other issues going on in life. Such as marked increase in stress, maybe due to employment, family, or friends. Irritability can set in when you have not cared for your basic needs such as sleep or eating regularly and can perpetuate when feeling irritable.

It can also occur when feeling sick. Though when irritability becomes excessive and unmanageable it may be pointing to a bigger issue with your mental and medical health.

Managing Irritability

It’s important to have a plan. Identify enjoyable activities that help you diffuse and bring you back to a sense of calm. Here are several strategies to help.


Proactive Strategies

Proactive coping techniques reflect an individual’s efforts to build upon resources that facilitate promotion toward challenging goals and personal growth.

Often this is achieved by following a daily self-care schedule. This can include attending to basic needs of sleep hygiene and personal hygiene as well nutritional balance daily. Though it is helpful to include other soothing and mindful activities weekly, such as yoga or exercise, meditation, and relaxation techniques, reading, spending time with friends, hobbies, and having time to yourself.

Reactive Strategies

Reactive coping techniques involve an individual’s efforts to deal with past or present stressful situations that cause irritability in the moment. It involves accepting the associated stressful situation. This can include taking a break by going for a drive or walk/hike, listening to music, journaling, or writing, engaging in drawing, or painting, or play a game.


If you find that irritability has been excessive, prolonged, and you are experiencing difficulties with managing irritability and have ruled out medical conditions, mental health treatment may be an option for you. At First Light Recovery we promote coping strategies through psychoeducation and processing underlying issues in group and individual therapy sessions using evidence-based practices.


American Psychological Association