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Irritability / frustration

Discussion in 'Cognition' started by cigana, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. cigana

    cigana Senior Member


    I thought I would start a thread on this as there doesn't seem to be one, which surprises me because this has always been a feature of my illness.

    Seems I am more irritable - things irritate me more easily, and I kind of feel more angry, like I lack the ability to calm myself as much as before CFS. This particuarly happens in the evenings, when I have to do some kind of physical task.

    Does anyone else suffer from something similar? I am wondering if I in fact have Lyme, as "Lyme Rage" is a feature of that illness (though I wouldn't call my problem as severe as rage).


  2. Nielk


    I think this happens to many of us because we become very sensitive to any stimuli.
    I know I am very sensitive to noise or smells.
    Because of this neurological sensitivity, I think we become more easily irritated.
    This can explain the irritability factor.

    As far as anger, I think it is an outcome of having to deal with irritable situations and just the frustration s of living with
    a chronic illness.

    I don't know if it will make you feel better to hear that others have the same complaints.
    It doesn't change your situation.
    It explains it though.

    That's why many people think that meditation is so important for us.

    Did you read Cort's blog about the state of be-ing?
    I found it very profound and thought provoking.

    Wishing you a calm day,

  3. cigana

    cigana Senior Member

    Thanks Nielk. I didn't get through all of Cort's blog - I will go back and reread.

    I know what you mean about stimuli - sometimes the TV or even a bright light can cause irritation.

    It does actually help to know others have this too! But anyway, it is not a constant problem for me, it just comes on a few times a week. It is better now than it was many months ago, and I am wondering if that's because I have been doing Rich's methylation protocol.
  4. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

    Logan, Queensland, Australia
    Hi cigana, this is quite common, and it has been discussed on various threads from time to time, I just don't recall it having its own thread. Bye, Alex
  5. cigana

    cigana Senior Member

    Thanks Alex, that's comforting to hear.
  6. LazyLizard

    LazyLizard 11yrs with ME

    Oh yes, full on! Comes and goes.

    And at this very moment very angry - with the world.
    After 10yrs of ME/CFS I gotten so bitter and disappointed that every
    second news report makes me angry. Anyone who is healthy and earns
    more than the disability support pension is perceived as flaunting and
    enrages me! (I must be bad today :) )
    Yeah well, how not to get angry when nobody really understands you.
    I live in a world where I seem to be one of a different species. A species
    with a weaker nervous system. Even well-meaning people don't always
    get it.
    Anyway, there are days when I seem to feel happy, chilled and relaxed even
    though I am exhausted. Today is no such day.
    Irritability, yes, goes hand in hand with exhaustion. I try and escape
    stimuli but feel sensory overload anyway sometimes and get irritated.
    Tooooooo much noise out there. The less noise the better. Always!

    I have been thinking about this lately and found the anger and frustration
    is mostly to do with my situation and not having releases like friends,
    activities, exercise, hobbies, money, sex, travel, work and work mates etc
    (Stressful jobs are frustrating too, of course)

    I hope I met the topic of this thread. I just liked the title and went for it :)
    Cheers all
  7. cigana

    cigana Senior Member

    Hi LazyLizard,

    Thanks for your reply. I was more thinking about irritability that just seems to come for no reason. I also get angry with the world in a rational sense, but this is a separate feeling to the anger/frustration I get as part of the physical illness. It is like I want to be out of my own skin...
  8. Mark

    Mark Former CEO

    Sofa, UK
    Yes I think this subject has had the odd thread dedicated to it in the past, but I think it's also a factor we inevitably tend to underestimate and misunderstand, and it hasn't been discussed as much as it should be, perhaps - thanks Mark! I'll mention anxiety as well, because everything I'm about to say on the subject applies to sudden and unexpected feelings of anxiety as well, which I've experienced also.

    For me, it was years and years before I came to recognise my own irritability as a part of a pattern of physical symptoms. In fact, there was a period of time where noticing that I felt irritable was a very helpful guide to managing the fluctuation of my own symptoms - it's still a good warning sign that I'm relapsing. I remember days when I would walk out onto the street, on my way into town, and suddenly notice that I was having all these negative and irritable thoughts about the people I saw on the street, with no good reason - people just annoyed me somehow, and I couldn't explain why. It was quite closely related to my depressive symptoms, and once I became aware of these feelings and recognised that they had a physical origin related to the rest of my physical symptoms, this became a valuable guide to recognising relapses and nipping them in the bud.

    Neilk probably has a good point with his analysis that sensitivity in general is involved in this irritability, but over the years I've changed in my understanding of it. At first I was probably unaware of it, then I understood it in terms of personality and psychology (ie I blamed myself), then I understood it as a natural reaction to the discomfort of the physical symptoms (as I recognised and validated all those experiences, and the sensitivities in particular). But over time, the evidence of how my 'flare-ups' of irritability related consistently to the rest of my physical symptoms led me to come to see it as a purely physical phenomenon in itself, which is how I see it now.

    So...there are lots of factors that are obvious candidates, and probably are related to our overall levels of irritability - sensitivities, unrelenting pain, the frustrations of coping with our 'medically unexplained' situation, the prevalence of really irritating people with really dumb ideas about somatisation, and (perhaps crucially) sleep disturbance and failure to enter deep sleep.

    But despite all those fairly obvious factors, I now see my own irritability as essentially a purely neurological, physical phenomenon, with its own independent physical logic - mainly because I've had enough experiences in which I've found myself having a severe flare of irritability for no good reason at all, at the start of a flare-up of symptoms, and then used that observation as an early-warning sign, to good effect.

    I actually think it's very liberating to recognise the ways that physical factors can underlie so-called 'psychological' phenomena like anxiety, irritability and depression - because whereas some people might see it as an abdication of responsibility for one's behaviour, actually it's quite the reverse: it allows me to take control, and to make practical, physical changes that improve my mental state. Seeing these things as 'psychological' or 'personality' related is really a way of blaming yourself for these undesirable behaviours - which is what other people want us to do of course - but adding feelings of guilt doesn't give us a practical way out, whereas identifying the physical real-world causes of these feelings, and then working around them in a practical way, is a far more positive response IMO.
  9. PNR2008

    PNR2008 Senior Member

    OH USA
    I too had anger attacks that came from nowhere. Sometimes I woke up with one and since nobody in the support groups felt comfortable talking about them being that they were in that crazy/depressed catagory, I went to Jay Goldstein MD about 20 yrs ago. (I've had CFS 23yrs). He said it was common and I found zoloft and klonopin helped alot. That was then but it started happening again recently to me and nuerontin has helped. It is probably the scariest symtom I've had and I keep a close eye on it's appearance.
  10. sleepy237

    sleepy237 Senior Member

    Cigana I have felt that irritiability since acute onset, I never thought that it could be a componenet of the illness before but a reaction to it, but now I am thinking how at times I am irritable for no reason but at other times when I would naturally be irritated I have developed a sense of calm for example dropping full cups of hot liquid, other accidents, because I know that stressing out will just serve to make everything worse, so I guess I try to deal with accidents with a calmness but there is another irritability all of its own. Good for you starting this thread, you have made me think. Take care ~sleepy
  11. 3CFIDS@ourhouse

    3CFIDS@ourhouse still me

    Southeast US
    I don't know if this adds to anything already said, but the irritation for me is a signal that I am pushing myself too far. In my simple understanding, it's like this: We don't have enough ATP/energy to do what we need to do; at some point, our adrenals start pumping out cortisol/adrenaline, we're on the fight or flight mode just to keep going, and we get that wired or irritated feeling. (OK, some of you scientists out there are probably rolling your eyes at how I butchered the biochemistry of that:rolleyes:) In the evening, even thinking about doing some activity, or even having to think hard about anything will produce this response for me. It is a chore to become so aware and attentive of the little signals, but it's the only way I know to survive.
  12. leela

    leela Slow But Hopeful

    Couchland, USA
    So many great points brought up in this thread about this irritating irritation! After years of meditation and a real, tangible ability to achieve a fairly constant state of calm abiding--with ME it was out the window! Along with the ability to meditate with any regularity, comfort or focus.

    Much of the irritability has to do with the lovely degradation of motor control, hand skills, mental skills, and ability to do small mundane tasks. (Like you're wrapping a packakge and the tape gets stuck to your hair AND the wrong bit of the paper AND to itself all at once and you are left with a toddler-like tantrum and a wad of crumpled tape-hair-paper.)

    But a lot of it, as others have said, has to do with the upping of the level of illness--I too have noticed myself internally finding everything and everyone highly annoying and overstimulating; and then I will realize my skin also feel like it has ground glass in it, my eyebrows itch, and every hair follicle hurts. I am convinced it is just one more manifestation of some overall neurological irritant.
  13. ixchelkali

    ixchelkali Senior Member

    Long Beach, CA
    Sure. I think constant pain can make you irritable, too. Before I got ME/CFS I once had severe pain from a herniated disk for about 6 months, and I had bouts of crabbiness then, also. People also frequently get irritable when they have the flu.

    Let's face it, we generally have a lot to be irritable about. Getting through the activities of daily living can be downright difficult. And we don't get the respect and/or sympathy (let alone the support) that people with most serious illnesses do.

    I don't know if it's even possible to separate what is a symptom of the illness and what's a reaction to it, or to the situations it creates.

    Most of the time I can do an "attitude adjustment" and get myself out of feeling irritable, because I don't like feeling that way. But sometimes it's all too much. Then my husband and my cat try to find somewhere else to be!
  14. SilverbladeTE

    SilverbladeTE Senior Member

    Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland
    yeah no kidding, I'm as grouchy as a pit viper with heamorhoids at times! ;)

    largely seems ot be several causes

    the nerve pain, like "fingernails down a blackboard", down back of brain and spinal cord

    general pain and sickness getting you down and all the psychological aspects of it


    multitaksing and some other things cause EXTREME sudden ehadaches, like a knife in the skull
    ie someone asks me to do something when I'm doing another task...GAH!!!

    reminds me of when I got ME, before it I had bunch of things happen all in a rush:
    loss of dear family member,
    very toxic damp proofing put in our house that made me and the workmen sick as dogs,
    very bad long lasting flue like illness
    one effect of all that aftore I realized I had what eventually I learned was ME, was two weeks of low blood sugar
    ack! that was vile, could barely think, like brain was on fire. just wanted to lash out to shut any noise/person up :/

    I'm not diabetic though, so must have been cause of all that stuff going on.
  15. Emootje

    Emootje Senior Member

    The Netherlands
    It's the activation of our sympathetic nervous system that's making us angry.
    In the disease/findings listed below the sympathetic nervous system is activated and they are all associated with irritability....
    House did an episode on the last one. (Pheochromocytoma)

    •Hypoxia (CFS)
    •Sleep deprivation (CFS)
    •Heart failure
    •Low cardiac output (CFS)
    •Mercury poisoning (CFS)
    •Lead poisoning
    •Pain (CFS)
    •Low blood volume, dehydration (CFS)
    •Caffeine, Amphetamines, Cocaine use
    •Alcohol or opioid withdrawal syndrome
    •Acute porphyria

    Slow breathing/meditation kan cool down the sympathetic nervous system.
  16. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

    I think it goes hand in hand with exhaustion and pain. Irritability is an innate problem for me - particularly after exercise but if my body never really feels like its at rest - why would it not be in a state of at least general irritation? and at times -real anger. I used to worry at times that someone would do something and I would snap....
  17. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

    Look at that low blood volume sitting right there! Hah! that is a fascinating list....mercury poisoning....sleep all fits.
  18. sandgroper


    west australia
    This symptom has been very very bad for aout 5 years and has caused me to lose relationships. Most often I get angry because I am not able to communicate properly and I have no=one around to help me monitor energy levels. Its clear that when i force my brain to try to do something it does not want to do I get very irritable. But also the lack of understanding by family and friends makes it so hard. Most refuse to read up and just try to act normal around me or give me stupid advice. then when I am upset about something I do not have the energy to communicate my needs. or I get so wired I talk or type non stop.
  19. justy

    justy Donate Advocate Demonstrate

    Yep, i get really irritable too. I notice these days that it is related to physical symptoms - i get very irritable if i can feel i am overdoing it but dont seem to be able to stop. Another common thing for me is getting irritable when i am at the limits fo my ability and then get asked a question or to do something else as well. My brain cant cope and so i get very irritable and shouty. Usually in this situation the shouting doesnt make much sense as my cognitive fundction will have declined as well.
    For me its a sure sign to sit down or lay down and rest. Its taken me years to see the link though. When i was younger i just thought i was an uptight person - but im actually a pretty calm person most of the time. I also get the problem then of talking too fast and going wired if i dont slow down.
  20. Sallysblooms

    Sallysblooms P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!

    Southern USA
    I was wondering if everyone had their seratonin checked. If that is low you can feel very irritated.

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