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Your Guide to Treating Bipolar I Disorder

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Everything You Need to Know About Bipolar Disorder and Anger

Medically Reviewed By Lori Lawrenz, PsyD
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Anger is not one of the main symptoms of bipolar disorder. However, many people with bipolar disorder do experience increased angry or aggressive behaviors. This article explains what research says about the connection between bipolar disorder and anger. It also covers signs of uncontrolled anger, tips for coping with anger, and tips for caregivers.

What does research say about bipolar disorder and anger?

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Anger is not typically a symptom of bipolar disorder. However, many with the condition report experiencing bouts of anger, irritation, and rage.

Research conducted by the same teams in 2012 and 2014 showed that those with bipolar disorder display higher rates of anger and aggressive behaviors than those without the condition. This is especially true during episodes of psychosis.

Results from both studies recommend further research and treatments specifically for coping with and managing anger and aggression in those with bipolar disorder. They also state that early identification and prevention of substance use in people with bipolar disorder is important as substance misuse can lead to more severe aggressive behaviors.

What are the signs of uncontrolled anger?

Anger is a natural human response to certain triggers like:

  • feeling attacked
  • feeling deceived
  • feeling invalidated or unfairly treated

However, anger can become an issue when it is uncontrolled and affects or harms those around you or yourself. This can happen in various ways, including:

  • You regularly use destructive behavior to express your anger.
  • Your anger has a negative impact on your overall mental and physical health.
  • Anger becomes your standard emotion, making it difficult for you to experience other emotions.
  • You have difficulty developing proper and healthy ways of expressing your anger.

Tips for coping with anger

At times, it may feel as though your anger is uncontrollable. However, there are ways you can help manage the anger you feel.

When you find yourself growing angry, consider trying the following:

  • Trying to identify what activates your anger.
  • Taking time out to step away from the situation and allow yourself to “cool down.”
  • Talking yourself down by reminding yourself that you can handle the situation.
  • Distracting yourself by shifting your focus to something else. Doing this even briefly can help to defuse your anger.
  • Using imagery and picturing yourself in a relaxing situation.
  • Trying gentle exercise or yoga to calm yourself down.
  • Trying controlled breathing techniques.

If you feel as though you cannot control your anger, consider speaking with a mental health professional. They may be able to recommend additional anger management therapies along with your bipolar disorder treatment.

Tips for loved ones

Supporting someone with bipolar disorder can feel difficult at times. There are ways you can help them cope with the condition and the anger they may experience.

Recognize the symptoms

Sometimes a person who’s close to someone with bipolar disorder can begin to recognize the early symptoms of a manic or depressive episode. If you learn the warning signs of these episodes, you may be able to help your loved one prevent them from becoming severe.


Make time to talk about issues that occur. However, keep in mind that not every situation is the right time to talk. Some people who experience anger with bipolar disorder can be talked down in a situation. Others may require a different approach to addressing and managing their anger, as it may be more likely to turn to rage.

React rationally and calmly

Even at the times when your loved one may be angry and ranting, it’s important that you try to remain calm. This can be difficult. However, listening to them and supporting them can better help them feel understood. This can be important in working together toward a positive outcome.


Anger is not typically one of the main symptoms of bipolar disorder. However, people with bipolar disorder have been shown to have increased occurrences of angry and aggressive behaviors.

Uncontrolled anger can not only have negative effects on your relationships but also on your overall health — mentally and physically. Trying coping techniques may help you manage your anger.

If you feel as though you cannot control your anger, you might consider speaking with your mental health professional. They can help you develop coping methods to better manage your anger.

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Medical Reviewer: Lori Lawrenz, PsyD
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 15
View All Your Guide to Treating Bipolar I Disorder Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Anger. (2019).
  2. Ballester, J. et al. (2012). Is bipolar disorder specifically associated with aggression?
  3. Ballester, J., et al. (2014). Prospective longitudinal course of aggression among adults with bipolar disorder.
  4. Bipolar disorder (n.d.).
  5. How to cope with anger. (n.d.).