Why am I so irritable?
March 28, 2018 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Extreme irritability. What are some potential and possible logical or medical reasons for this?

I've been really irritable and having terrible mood swings. It's mostly my spouse who is on the receiving end of this, but he's not doing anything out of the ordinary annoying. I also don't have any stress that is out of the ordinary, nor am I sleeping or eating any worse than usual. What could be the cause of this?
posted by spicytunaroll to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Pregnancy? Pre-menopause? Resentment you're not fully conscious of? Allergies?
posted by crunchy potato at 1:56 PM on March 28, 2018

Sleep apnea?
posted by bunderful at 1:58 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have you watched the news lately? (I’m being serious - I have to really monitor my media consumption nowadays so I don’t get burned out.)

Another issue could be your thyroid.
posted by The Toad at 1:58 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

My thyroid causes some irritability when my levels aren't right.

I do have some mental health issues, depression and anxiety both can cause irritability.

Sleep is probably the most helpful thing for my mood.

But it's just general life sometimes, emotions sometimes just are.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:59 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

March Madness, not the basketball thing. I'm not joking. Every teacher will tell you that March is the worst month because everyone is just cranky as fuck. It has something to do with seasons changing and Mercury being in retrograde.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:14 PM on March 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

Could be tail end of winter vitamin D deficiency. Are you making an effort to get outside some?

My kid and both got ridiculously cranky last week (as in "made the office uncomfortable" and "the teacher called the house to talk about it" respectively) and have felt better since taking vitamin D supplements and getting outside more. (And some mindfulness exercises recommended here on Ask.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:15 PM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Start with Everything is Awful and I'm Not Okay. If it turns out to be more than a short-term funk, make a doctor's appointment to rule out any medical issues and get a copy of Feeling Good (recommended on the green all the time for good reason, as the exercises are a great way to suss out why you aren't feeling great, and find techniques to help).
posted by veery at 2:16 PM on March 28, 2018 [8 favorites]

Seconding the idea that it might be depression. My depression manifests itself in a variety of ways, not the least of which is massive irritability.

Also, (depending on where you live) are you getting outside enough and getting exercise?

Hope you feel better soon. :)
posted by strelitzia at 2:27 PM on March 28, 2018

Frustration with ...?
posted by davcoo at 2:29 PM on March 28, 2018

Irritability is a signal of both depression and anxiety.
posted by msbubbaclees at 2:37 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

(Assuming youre a cis woman, apologies in advance if thats not true)

Hormonal changes -- going on or off the pill, but also sometimes your cycle just changes. Also: PCOS, fibroid tumors.

If you can, it might be worth getting your blood checked for a few things -- thyroid, iron, ferritin, vitamin d, b12. You don't necessarily have to see a doctor, there are labs throughout the country that let you order your own blood tests. If you see any values that look off, of course, it would make sense to then schedule a visit with a doctor.

(I went through a phase of sudden, uncharacteristic irritability and moodiness -- like I was having a hard time not snapping at people at work and that is just not a problem I have ever had before in my entire life. Turned out I had low ferritin/anemia and as that has improved my mood and irritability has also dramatically improved).
posted by mrmurbles at 2:37 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

My thyroid causes some irritability when my levels aren't right.

Yeah I had hyperthyroidism and I had serious irritability levels. In retrospect I quit a job I thought I hated that maybe I didn't actually hate, because I was pissed off all the time. It's very easy to get your levels checked, simple blood test.
posted by RustyBrooks at 3:08 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

extreme irritability can be part of the hypormanic phase of bipolar disorder.

and if you're taking prednisone EVERYONE can be unbearable annoying.
posted by kitten magic at 3:11 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

How is your activity level? Exercise works wonders on my mood. Doesn't have to be extreme, just something you enjoy, take your mind of things, even if you aren't aware of what could be irritating you. If the weather permits I recommend something outside too. Feel better.
posted by a3matrix at 3:13 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

After a lot of type-delete because I don't want to be The Alarmist One but still feel a responsibility to throw it out there as a possibility: extreme mood and/or behavior changes can in rare cases be connected to brain tumors. This is especially relevant if you also experience other symptoms (that may not be severe or particularly noteworthy) like balance issues, frequent headaches (even if weak), memory problems, blurry vision, speech and olfactory changes, and a myriad more. Chances are that's not the cause, but I wish I had connected the dots sooner in my case, so if you can't figure out the root cause, maybe consider seeing a neurologist to go over your symptoms. Best of luck to you finding a way to feel better <3 (And to anyone out there dealing with brain tumors, what the fuck, right?)
posted by myrtle at 3:18 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

In addition to thyroid issues, I have been known to have extreme irritability depending on my sugar intake. Dates particularly do this to me, and peaches to a slightly lesser degree.

I went through a phase where I was eating 3-4 dates per day. That was not a good couple of weeks at our house. I evened out after laying off them for 2-3 days. Lots of extra sleep and water helped.

Doesn't have to be sugar, and don't discount a medical issue, but my point is take a look at your diet too.
posted by vignettist at 4:00 PM on March 28, 2018

Sleep deprivation can also be a factor. The older I get, the less I find I can tolerate not getting enough sleep.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:16 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Are you doing excess emotional labor? Been suppressing emotions?
posted by yueliang at 4:52 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


1) Change of seasons? Seasonal shifts can bring all sorts of low-level fuckery between changing light levels and new allergens and everything suddenly being a little too hot or too cold (depending on the season)

2) Hormones? If you're a cis woman and you have periods, that shit can suddenly get RUL fucked up in your early 30s, never even mind menopause

3) Everything on the surface is normal and fine but actually low-key sucks a lot and you need help that you're not getting? I find I can kinda roll with a low level of bullshit pretty OK for like, 6 months maybe, but then if nothing is ever improving I will start to lose it
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:00 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Could you possibly be in pain that you aren't acknowledging? Personally I have a "high" pain tolerance, meaning that it's gotta really hurt before I notice, but then when it's gone it's like, "Oh, that's what that was." I also have multiple friends who had teeth issues taken care of and their irritability went away. Like, they knew they probably had a cavity or two, got things fixed, and weren't as angry.
posted by frecklefaerie at 5:14 PM on March 28, 2018

Are you doing any mental or physical processing of trauma, even the kind you might not be aware of? For me, sometimes when I'm writing a lot, or doing a lot of yoga, or getting massages or otherwise working with trauma, I usually have a sharp increase of irritability and it usually takes me a while to figure out why. It's like once that trauma gets unlocked you have ALL the emotions to deal with.
posted by stellaluna at 5:18 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

This has happened to me with hormones, low iron and prednisone. These were all at once so I don't know if it was just one of these things or the combined effort. Not fun, for me or anyone around me.
posted by Jubey at 5:51 PM on March 28, 2018

I'm extremely hyper-histamine prone. Don't know quite how to describe it. Very reactive histamine response.

Oddly, that histamine response frequently includes extreme irritability. It's not just irritability with other symptoms of the histamine response, it is a reaction unto itself.

I don't know that there's any actual medical documentation of this link, just something I've noticed over the years.
posted by yesster at 5:52 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was extremely irritable before I got my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) dianosed and managed. Even now, irritability is often the first signal that I’m anxious about something and need to decompress.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 6:05 PM on March 28, 2018

Low iron does this for me as does winter.
posted by TheLateGreatAbrahamLincoln at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2018

Definitely consider anxiety. I can tell it's not going well when I get irritable thinking about whether the people walking in front of me in the street are going to end up getting in my way, even when I'm not in a hurry.
posted by praemunire at 7:47 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

New medications? I have an asthma med where one of the side effects is "irrational rage." (It was hard for me to tell this year if I was having Medicine Rage, or Trump Rage, admittedly.) It's a shame, because it really works but BOY does it make me mad.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:11 PM on March 28, 2018

Irritability & mood swings turned out to be bipolar for me. Irritability is easily my #1 depression symptom, and it kicks in way earlier than the more obvious-depression flat & sad symptoms.
posted by terretu at 11:41 PM on March 28, 2018

Irritability can be a symptom of magnesium deficiency. I take a supplement called Natural Calm, which is a powder that turns into a tangy fizzy drink when you add a teaspoon to a small glass of water. I get the Raspberry Lemon and find that it tastes reasonably pleasant, and seems to help chill me out when I am stressed.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:40 AM on March 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sometimes everything is annoying.

Having said that, if you're going through menopause everything is three times as annoying and you just want to destroy the world. This feeling can occur before and after menopause too.

Basically sometimes the world is just irritating as fuck, but one must always keep an open mind about the chances of improvement.
posted by h00py at 8:08 AM on March 29, 2018

lead poisoning?
posted by bdc34 at 11:11 AM on March 29, 2018

Response by poster: Thank you, Metafilter. First word in the answers had it.

While there is a lot of stuff in this thread that could apply to me and does cause me some irritability on the regular, my medical conditions are managed for the most part. And I generally know what my regular level of irritability is, and what could be causing it.

This was a couple of extreeeeeeme mood-swingy episodes in which I broke down crying because the sandwich my husband brought me to eat in the car was TOO BIG to eat. Turns out I am pregnant. Whoo-hoo!
posted by spicytunaroll at 8:03 AM on March 30, 2018 [10 favorites]

Haha! Congratulations! When you've processed it all, if you'd like, come over and join us at Mefi's Facebook child and pregnancy support group, More Inside. (I'm glad it wasn't lead poisoning, we don't have a group for that yet.)
posted by Jubey at 2:00 PM on March 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yes memail me to join the FB group!
posted by sestaaak at 1:26 PM on April 1, 2018

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