Depression is anger without enthusiasm (True?)

In this article we are going to discuss the quote “Depression is anger without enthusiasm” by Steven Wright in tandem with how anger can arise in depression as a symptom. 

We will also discuss how deep seated anger might also lead to depression and how we can cope with it.

Is depression a result of anger?

Depression is not a result of anger. Depression is a serious mental health disorder that has various factors that influence its development in a person- such as trauma, genetic vulnerability, life experiences, neurobiological factors. 

Anger alone cannot be a factor that causes depression however, anger and irritability are symptoms of depression. 

A few things you can do to cope with anger as a symptoms of depression include:

  • Therapy
  • Manage triggers
  • Stand up to your critic
  • Accept your anger
  • Take notice of your thoughts
  • Express anger in adaptable ways
  • Practice breathing
  • Mindfulness
  • Develop a support system

Anger in depression

Major depressive disorder or depression  is a common mood disorder that affects more than 300 million people world wide.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) states that an individual must exhibit specific symptoms to be diagnosed with major depression.

These symptoms include:

  • Significant unintentional weight loss or gain.
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
  • Agitation or psychomotor retardation.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Though anger isn’t listed by the DSM-5 as one of the diagnostic criteria – irritability and anger is also observed in some people with depression.

Presentation of anger in depression. 

A person with depression may experience anger various ways such as:

  • Critical and angry towards themselves
  • A short temper
  • Frequent road rage
  • Irritable
  • Verbally and physically violent to others or themselves
  • A person with depression may turn their anger in on themselves by carrying out self-sabotaging or self-harmful behaviours.

Anger as a result of depression 

Reasons our depression could be part of the reason why you are angry include:

  • Negative biases. Usually a person who is depressed has negative biases that influence their thought process. For instance, When remembering past events or conversations, they will recall them in a negative light or only remember the negative parts of them.

They will typically react to current situations that they are going through in a negative way. While most people might react to this with hopelessness and sadness others might react with anger depending on how they regulate their emotions. 

  • Impaired cognitive processes such as rumination or not having the ability to reframe thoughts in a more positive light can be part of the reasons why they might experience anger when depressed. 

Researchers found that people with depression were more likely to experience anger and irritability if they were unable to regulate their emotions and instead, ruminate on negative events.

  • Culture can play a significant role in determining how people regulate their emotions and what strategies they use. The National Institute of Mental Health notes that while both men and women experience depression, men may be less likely to talk about it and instead choose to hide their emotions or express them in maladaptive ways such as anger and aggression. 

Coping with anger in depression



Seeking professional help to manage and learn more about your anger can be the best thing you can do for yourself and your journey  of recovering from depression. 

If you are already in therapy, talking to your therapist about your anger and the times that anger has hurt you and others can be a good place to start. 

Your therapist can help you learn strategies on how to deal with your anger and also help you make lifestyle changes on how to manage them more effectively.

Therapy techniques such as Cognitive behaviour therapy or Emotion focused therapy could be some practices that you can try or even engaging in direct anger management workshops or group therapies can also be effective. 

Manage Triggers

It may be helpful to expand on that awareness and prepare yourself for those stressful situations when you react with anger. 

Learning how to manage your anger, starting with learning to identify and manage triggers before attempting to accept them and express anger in more effective ways. 

Stand Up to Your Inner Critic

One of the reasons why you could be angry and irritable is because you are angry at yourself or it could be because you are being extremely critical with yourself which is making you unhappy.

You start by standing up to your inner critic and you can do this by writing about your feelings in a journal, identifying your critical inner voice, writing responses to your critical inner voice with evidence that is on the contrary or more compassionate to who you are. 

Accept Your Anger

It may also help you to cope if you are able to accept that anger is part of the way you deal with things in your life and could also be part of your patterns of behaviour.

Accepting anger means accepting it without judgement and acknowledging how it has affected your life and maybe others. Accepting it could be one step towards healing. 

Take notice of your thoughts

When you are angry, there are probably some things that run in your mind and usually it is noticed after the fact. 

Taking the time to write down your thoughts when you feel angry could help you understand what is making you angry. By understanding the source of your nager, you can attempt to make changes that can either reduce the source or eradicate the course of anger. 

Express Your Anger

.Expressing your anger in healthy ways means acknowledging your anger and releasing it. Using various methods such as writing it down, exercising, singing, dancing, using art as a medium are all the ways you can express your emotions. 

When you are able to express your anger outwards, you will find that your depression may lessen because anger that is expressed in a healthy way may help you to move out of a place of being stuck.

Practice Breathing Exercises

Breathing helps to bring your body into a state of relaxation and to increase the oxygen flow in your body. This helps to get control of the fight or flight reaction that you might experience when your anger is triggered.

Mindfulness Meditation or Yoga

If you’re feeling motivated enough to try, the act of doing yoga itself may help to reduce your stress and improve your mood. Overall, we know that exercise releases endorphins which leads to reductions in depression.

If you are interested in trying mindfulness meditation, then you will want to find a meditation that focuses on anger, depression.

Develop a Support System

If you are struggling with depression and anger, you will also want to develop a strong support system or have at least one person you can rely on for support. 

You might benefit from joining a support group specifically for depression and/or anger. In support groups, you’re likely to find yourself spending time with people who completely understand your situation.

In addition, if you join a group with a facilitator, you may find that you are offered helpful strategies to better manage your depression and anger. 


In this article we have discussed the famous quote “Depression is anger without enthusiasm” by Steven Wright in relation to anger as a symptom of depression. We have also discussed some strategies to help you cope. 


Frequently asked questions related to “depression is anger without enthusiasm”

What do psychologists say about anger?

Psychologists view anger as a normal emotion experienced by all humans at times, and as something that has functional value for survival. 

Anger in psychology is seen as a secondary emotion that is often caused by another emotion such as feeling insignificant, or feeling like they have been mistreated or even as a reaction to injustice. 

However, uncontrolled anger is seen as maladaptive when it begins to impact a person’s health, relationships, occupation etc and could be a sign of underlying emotional distress and mental issues. 

What causes anger in a person?

Anger is a normal response to stress or events that one might feel unjust. A person might get angry because they feel as though they have been treated wrongly. 

There are many common triggers for anger, such as losing your patience, feeling as if your opinion or efforts aren’t appreciated, and injustice. Other causes of anger include memories of traumatic or enraging events and worrying about personal problems. 

Why do I get angry easily for no reason?

Common triggers for anger may include injustice, stress, financial issues, family or personal problems, traumatic events, or feeling unheard or undervalued. 

You might be noticing that many people also have the same issues as you but not nearly as angry. The reason why you might be getting angry easily is because you don’t have the right tools and skills to cope with your distress.

It could be because your threshold for stress is not able to cope with the stress you have in your life which makes you irritable and your inability to effectively manage stress could be leading you to get triggered easily. 

Is anger a mental illness?

Anger itself is not a mental disorder and so there’s no set diagnosis for anger problems in the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 

Anger is usually observed as a symptom of a specific mental health disorder or could be a sign of emotional distress due to the lack of ability to regulate emotions effectively.