Where’s the Anger?
Depression used to be defined as anger turned inward. Now we consider depression to be a biochemical imbalance in the brain. At least that’s the current thought as the pendulum swings back and forth between brain and mind.
There is a case to be made, though, that anger is at least one component of depression. And that anger may indeed be turned inward.
Take, for example, the anger you may feel when a loved one doesn’t understand what depression makes you go through, or when a coworker says something clueless and cruel. These are incidents that can make you justifiably angry.
It’s all too easy to turn that anger inward. You say to yourself, “I’m crazy or I’m broken or I’m damaged and it’s no wonder they don’t understand. Maybe they’re right. Maybe most people can just cheer up and I’m defective because I can’t.” These thoughts, in addition to prompting anger, are likely to depress a depressed person even more.
When anger masquerades as depression, it becomes difficult to recognize the anger for what it is. After a difficult relationship ended – badly – I was unable to see that I was indeed angry. I could have sworn that I wasn’t. In fact, I told people that I wasn’t angry. It took a long time for me to recognize and acknowledge that anger. By then it was too late to do much about it, except work through it with my therapist. But that’s all right, because that’s what I needed to do with the anger anyway. I’m at that awkward age when I can be tried as an adult.
So while I don’t think that depression is caused by anger turned inward, I do believe that depression can cause you to internalize anger and beat yourself up for things that you can’t control, like your brain.
Depression makes a hash out of feelings. Is it anger? Is it pain? Is it loneliness? Is it despair? The answer, usually, is one from column A and two from column B.