Is Depression Anger Turned Inward?

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Famous neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud famously theorized that depression is “anger turned inward”. Repressed anger could have negative impacts on one’s body and mental health. For adolescents, unexpressed anger can result from hidden trauma, shame, or even the fear of not fitting into cultural norms.

 As youth experience new emotions and life experiences, they must learn how to emotionally handle them as well. When feelings are ignored or avoided, it could cause further harm to their mental health down the road. With depression amongst youth on the rise in Massachusetts over the years, it’s important to recognize signs to help them seek treatment. In 2019, SAMHSA noted a 15.6% increase in Major Depressive Episodes (MDEs) amongst Massachusetts youth between the age of 12-17. Treatment for repressed anger and depression helps adolescents recognize their emotions and understand how to handle them.

What Is Repressed Anger?

Repressed anger is anger that is subconsciously avoided, denied, or ignored. Over time, repressed anger may become the underlying cause for the need for depression treatment. It can also lead to a negative impact on both the body and mind. Oftentimes, buried anger may signify a further underlying issue. Identifying the triggers of anger helps individuals understand their emotions, so they can express them in a safe way. By learning what triggers anger, individuals can also learn coping strategies to better deal with their emotions.

Repressed Anger and Childhood Trauma

Adolescents may internalize anger after traumatic events to help cope with what happened. These repressed emotions could worsen if left unresolved. Trauma treatment programs help adolescents deal with the emotions and mental health struggles that stem from traumatic experiences. In some cases, adolescents may quality for outpatient treatment programs, which allows them to continue attending school, work, and other daily activities while privately seeking treatment.

How to Treat Anger and Depression

There are several ways to treat anger and depression in youth before it gets worse. Outpatient treatment facilities allow adolescents to seek help without having to leave school and other daily commitments to get treated at a residential facility. For teens, it can help them avoid disrupting their social experiences by creating a more private approach to seeking treatment.

The state of Massachusetts also offers mental health support for individuals suffering from feelings of anger and depression. If your teen is unsure of the help that they need but are in the midst of a mental health crisis, the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Help Line (BHHL) could help guide them in the right direction.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

One way to treat repressed anger is through trauma-informed therapy. This treatment involves therapists slowly building trust with their clients over time to understand how trauma may have played a role in impacting their mental health. Trauma-informed therapy empowers individuals to feel heard and validated in their emotions. This often helps individuals manage their emotions and cope with traumatic events that they may have experienced. 

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness based therapy is often used to treat adolescents dealing with depression. The treatment uses meditative practices to help individuals become more present and break away from harmful moods, such as anger. Mindfulness is a cognitive therapy that typically takes place in a group setting. Participants practice meditation techniques that they can use to let go of negative and harmful thought patterns damaging their mental state.

Is Anger a Symptom of Depression?

While anger does not always signify depression, angry outbursts have been recognized as a core symptom of depression for adolescents. Youth are still gaining new experiences and discovering new things about themselves all the time. When certain negative experiences or negative emotions impact them, they do not always know how to cope with those emotions. This can come out through angry outbursts or irritability.

If you notice signs of angry outbursts or irritability in your child, identifying what the triggers of those feelings can help you understand what type of treatment they need. Anger could be a teen’s way of expressing a depressive state.

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