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Irritability and feeling on edge

2-minute read

If you are feeling unusually irritable or on edge, you may find it useful to talk to a family member or your doctor. Feeling irritable and anxious can be a symptom of a mental health condition like depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.

Here are some tips you may find useful too:

  1. Keep a diary. Rate your levels of anxiety and irritability on a daily basis for at least 2 weeks, and see if you can find a pattern. This will help you work out if there is a trigger for these feelings.
  2. Write a list of all the things that feel important to you. Now rate your levels of anxiety and irritability for each of these. Give the things that cause you little or no anxiety 0, and things that cause you the most anxiety 10. Everything else can be rated in between.
  3. Pay attention to what triggers feelings of irritability or anxiety. Notice if other things make you feel less anxious and more relaxed. Being aware of these ‘triggers’ can be helpful.

Relaxation techniques

Whenever you recognise the early signs of irritation or tension, you might like to try some relaxation techniques to see if they help improve your mood.

  • Take a walk, go for a swim, or try another type of physical activity.
  • Do some breathing exercises.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch television.
  • Read a book.
  • Take an exercise class such as yoga or pilates, or try doing it yourself at home.
  • Take a relaxing bath, or pamper yourself for an hour.
  • Do something creative, like painting or making something.

Relaxation is a skill that you can learn over time. What works for one person may not work for another, but over time you can discover the things that work to help you unwind and relax.

Where to get help

If you need help, talking to your doctor is a good place to start. If you’d like to find out more or talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:

  • MindSpot Clinic (anyone suffering from anxiety or depression) — call 1800 61 44 34.
  • beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
  • Black Dog Institute (people affected by depression and extreme mood swings) — online help.
  • Lifeline (anyone experiencing a crisis or thinking about suicide) — call 13 11 14 or chat online.
  • Suicide Call Back Service(anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2019


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