A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports the results of a 31-year longitudinal depression study.

Researchers found that people experiencing current, overt irritability/anger were much more like to have:

  • Increased depressive severity.
  • Longer duration of the major depressive episode (MDE).
  • Poorer impulse control.
  • More chronic and severe long-term course of the illness.

Overt irritability and anger were also associated with higher rates of lifetime substance abuse and anxiety disorder, more antisocial and personality disorders, greater psycho-social impairment, reduced life satisfaction, and a higher rate of bipolar II disorder in relatives.

There was no association between irritability/anger and increased suicidal thoughts or behavior.

Further research is needed, to explore how combinations of biological mechanisms, personality vulnerabilities, poor social circumstances, or prior trauma may be involved in the pathogenesis of MDE’s with overt irritability/anger.

More research could reveal better diagnoses and treatments.

“Findings from such research could lead to the identification of a distinct subtype of MDE, along with specific diagnostic tools and more effective treatments,” researchers concluded.

Read the full text of the study.