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Irritable Much?

stressedIf you’ve been feeling irritable or short-tempered, there could be a number of possible causes.  Figuring out what’s bugging you, deep down, is the first step to feeling better.)

Here are some potential culprits:

1)  You’re stressed.

Might seem obvious, but often we overlook the obvious.  We assume that other people are just being particularly annoying and take it out on them, rather than looking inward.

If you look to yourself first, your relationships will thank you.

2)  You’re exhausted and poorly nourished.

If you’re not eating and sleeping well, your tolerance for everything will go way down.  Consider whether you’ve been caring for yourself properly.

This may be related to number 1: You get stressed, you’re short on time, and your self-care goes way down.  This can become a negative cycle in terms of your mood.

3)  You’re dissatisfied with your life in the big picture.

You might be focusing on the little things rather than recognize what’s really wrong.  Because if what’s wrong is more global and has no easy solution, you might not want to contend with it.

But sometimes our irritability is trying to needle us into dealing with what we’d rather avoid.  Avoidance doesn’t solve the problem; you’re either punting it down the road, elongating your discomfort, or you’re allowing it to snowball.

4)  Something’s going on medically.

Medical issues can start with mood symptoms.  If you can’t figure out what could be causing your moodiness, then it might be a good time to consult a doctor and have a full work-up.

5)  You really are surrounded by annoying people and situations.

Can’t rule this one out.  I don’t know what your life is like.

But if this is the case, then you need to decide whether to use acceptance or change strategies.  If  you need to accept things, that’s an active process, not a passive one.  It’s hard, accepting what’s sub-optimal until you’re in a position to change.  But if you don’t do it, you’ll just keep being irritable, and the quality of  your life keeps going down.

If it is time for a change, then better to recognize it and jump in with both feet.

Listen to what your mood state is telling you, and you’ll be better for it.

Stressed guy photo available from Shutterstock

Irritable Much?

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2015). Irritable Much?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Jan 2015
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