Depression causing aggressive behaviour

Hi, just joined. I was recommended counselling for my depression about 6 months ago, all initially seemed ok and my general mood seemed better. I then had to change my counsellor and things have gone downhill these past few weeks - I am now not sleeping well at all and have felt very "angry" in certain situations causing me to become verbally aggressive, this is not "me" as I consider myself a placid individual who manages to get along with anyone. Due to one of my angry rants (and, I suppose, my negative, apathetic, behaviour the past few weeks) my wife has left me to spend some time with a relative. She did this to help me "get myself sorted" - her departure and what the future holds for us has made me really hit rock bottom. Now all my wife's family will know of my problems and I feel I will become more isolated from them also. I made an emergency appointment with my GP who has prescribed Citalopram 20Mg once a day - if tablets help I will take anything and try to cope with any side effects. I's only day 2 of these pills so will wait and see how things go.

I don't know whether the counselling I am now receiving is stirring up too much "stuff" but I am unsure whether to continue with my current counsellor or find someone a bit more experienced. Must say the GP was keener to give me the medication than discussing counselling options/types.

Thanks for reading this - at least I feel someone will have been in a similar situation.

30 Replies

  • Hi sorry to hear of your troubles. I am a bit at a loss of how a 'placid' person can suddenly get so angry through depression? Are you sure this has only now become a problem? I am not having a go at you, I'm just trying to understand.

    Even when my depression has got really bad I am never angry - distressed, suicidal etc. but not angry. Maybe it's more a male/female thing? I have heard that women tend to internalise their anger, while men are more likely to externalise it. Whatever, I hope the meds and/or counsellling helps you and your wife feels she can return home after her break. x

  • Thanks for the reply - it is definitely a female/male thing! My GP fully accepted my explanation of the "aggression" as a part of my overall diagnosis of clinical depression. Will get through this as I don't like myself at the moment.

  • Hi Barrie, sorry to here of your struggle, please don't start worrying about what is to come in the future as this surely can't help and none of us has that elusive crystal ball xx

    Your wife is only taking a respite at the moment, if you feel strong enough maybe just speak to her on the phone with just a few kind words like it's ok, you miss her but you understand?

    It really won't hurt having others know, they may all be a lot more understanding and supportive than you think.

    I'm afraid GP's can be pill pushers because they can help some people and work quickly when needed, but you are the one who needs to be in control to see if they are right for you.

    Yes you very well may need to change the counsellor again, it is very important to talk to someone you feel comfortable with, to get the full benifit, as well as don't just rely on one thing to get you back on track, try every self help you can, some will help and some won't, but at least when you find little things that do help you can just keep trying to use them in your life routinely to build a better future.

    It's a very difficult time for you, please have faith that you can do this and get back to the person you want and can be, life has thrown a lot of stress your way, but nothing is permanent, things will get better.

    Take care and lots of hugs xx

  • Thank you ladeda - your kind words mean a lot. I have just read your profile/posts and my heart goes out to you. Things WILL get better for us both, I have no doubt.

  • I'm on 20mg citalopram and have found them great. 10mg didn't make much difference. It just gave me that opening in the downward spiral i was in, enough to help myself too.

    Yes, GP's often seem to prescribe medication rather that counselling. (Costs may have rather a lot to do with it!) CBT helped me but I got given a few websites while i was on the waiting list. these helped with coping strategies. Ill find them and give them to you.


  • Try these - Mood Gym - E-Couch - Living Life to the Full


  • Thanks Sue, I will have a look at these sites. Hope the Citalopram works for me too. I never thought I'd end up on anti depressants but have realised the counselling is a long term therapy so pills are the only way to go at the moment; plus, of course, sites like you have sent me the links to. I don't know much about CBT but will do a bit of research.

  • Me neither! I have always been a laid back type of person. Anxiety and stresses have obviously come out in other ways.

    I found that things built up when I tried to deal with thing on my own and going onto anti depressants just cleared my fog, so to speak, and allowed me to help myself more.


  • Sue, yes my anger is totally out of character I think brought on by the anxiety/depression (and a great deal of frustration) - I've reached a cross roads in my life as having worked from the day I left school I am now in a "nothing" job and awaiting either redundancy or retirement....whichever comes first. Retirement doesn't frighten me as I do have plans and hope to get my body and mind fitter for these to happen. I can understand why my wife has left but am now feeling very lonely and worried (anxious) as I have had no contact with her since Tuesday - she said she would contact me first and I will honour that request. Have just got a couple of "self help" books from the local library so will start one of them later. Thanks again for your support Sue.

  • Hello

    Welcome to this site there are many here who will relate to your problems, when it comes to the changing of your CPN and a raw temper

    Generally speaking how long have you been having talking therapy ?. I understand six months although you would had to wait for triage, assessment then first appointment.

    Sometimes a relationship can build up between CPN and patient especially over an extended period and that can force the issue and they will change to someone else.

    Sad to say, the new CPN has a different approach to that of the first and they sometimes need to sort of backtrack on your Needs

    Sometimes when we start to rage and show anger it can be caused by your medication, the drug you are on can take an extended period before they will work fully. Two days is not that long many on here will admit they need to take the medication for about four weeks before they become beneficial. I would imagine that your GP or CPN had prescribed an initial medication and this one replaces the former, you will most probably suffer withdrawal from the former and possible contraindications from the Citalopram. I need to say however the medication you are on as well as the dose is very understandable, I take the same drug and dose and will most probably need then for the rest of my life as my main condition is caused by chronic pain condition.

    Do you feel your CPN, Talking Therapy is working or are you getting to the crux of the matter that has caused your depression, if that is the case you could be feeling the anger and flustration of the past and your condition now. I understand that you are a senior in life and changes and holdups in your life at this time may cause the anger you describe. I am just the same and my Wife sometimes becomes very short with me. So you are not alone with your feelings, so it will be advisable to approach not only your GP, also your CPN and try and explain the reasons for this exchange in mood

    I really hope you get back soon with your better half and if you require a chat we are always around to give support


  • Hi Bob, thanks for your support. I have had about 10 counselling sessions thus far, 6 courtesy of the NHS (free) and now on a 12 week course with a counselling organisation (charity based). I started in late June 2015 and changed about 6 weeks ago to the current counsellor (have had to miss 2 appts). I am seeing her again tomorrow so will tell her exactly what has happened these past 2 weeks (she was unavailable last week). The Citalopram I am now on is the first anti-depressant I have had for about 10 years, in the course of my life I have had 4 instances of depression of which 3 (inc. the current one) have necessitated medication. I know that the side effects from drugs prescribed 10+ years ago have been addressed and hopefully reduced - I'm only on day 3 of the Citalopram 20Mg and no side effects yet. I understand that it will be at least 2-3 weeks (or longer?) before I see any benefit from these and hope and pray my domestic situation is sorted out when I'm feeling a bit better. With my wife away still I feel very alone and am really thankful for the support (and positivity) shown by members of this site. Thank you.

  • Hello Barrie

    You will need to take care if you miss appointments for any reason.

    What can happen is they accept you may miss one or two, the NHS takes a very dim view and you may not get that third appointment.

    With regard the charity the same will possibly apply.

    Problems with mood can become an impulsive act depending on many things your past, marriage/personal and work. It is important that you try and work out where these feelings and impulses are coming from so you can address them and come to terms with your illness.

    I do not know if you are now retired from work, I know many men can become angry and short tempered at that time. This may cause problems with Your Wife and sometimes They can resent you being at home etc.

    You say you are employed in a job that will see you redundant or retired, if that is the case the aforementioned could be the cause of your problem, flustration comes to mind, also lack of satisfaction.

    Myself I have been unable to work for quite a long time and have made a form of life as a volunteer in Mental Health and Pain Control, that has provided a stop gap and now I am now an OAP. I still do get ratty and suffer bouts of been flat and tired.

    We addressed the situation that was causing a large part of my health problems and I am more at rest still doing my work within the NHS and other departments of that organisation. That keeps me more on the straight and narrow. A great deal of male depression at pensionable age is time and hollow thought.

    Consider what you want from this illness, that would hopefully give you respite. It is never to late to take on new interests, Pensioners are lucky these days generally because they have their health and a life that has been extended by improvements in health and wellbeing

    We are always around here somewhere, come back as many times as you feel you need support


  • Hi Barrie,

    I'm new here because 3 weeks ago I had a breakdown. The hardest part has been to accept that I needed help after a 5 year toxic relationship and multiple losses in my family, the most recent being my father.

    Anyway, my reason for responding here is to say to you that people knowing is the best way forward! You must tell people but decide who you want to tell and how much you want them to know. Tell them what you want from them. eg: I have told mine I do not want daily texts/calls asking me if i'm ok - Just want to know that they know I am struggling and that I will call them if need to. They now feel included and valuable.

    I also have the support of a wonderful partner now but only because I finally told her what I was going through - I nearly lost her because I wouldn't acknowledge or tell anyone. Get therapy and do NOT give up.

  • Sorry, me again.

    This link was valuable to me and those around me in heling to explain and understand 

  • Hi Joner4839,

    Thanks for your sound advice and support - yes I don't want everyone fussing so your words make a lot of sense. The link looks very useful, especially for finding a different counsellor should I finish with my current one. Best regards, Barrie

  • Hello Barrie. I'm sorry to hear of your troubles. You've certainly come to the right place to find people similarly affected. I just wanted to say that I can identify with your irritability and bad temper. They are definitely a part of my depression--as well as lots of tears. I get a pillow and bash it in private till I feel better. It's very satisfying and no-one need know about it.

    Don't expect to feel any better for 4---6 weeks. You are on a very small dose of medication at the moment. It was about 6 weeks before I started to pick up.

    Persevere and your spirits will begin to lift letting some much needed light into your life.

    Kind Regards, Myra.

  • Hello Myra and thanks for your kind supportive words. I know I must stay as positive as I can and learn to love myself again. I just feel so isolated at the moment and fear I am going to lose everything that is dear to me. I suppose I have some form of anxiety linked into the depression as well,

    Anyhow it's 4am and had better get some rest! The 'pillow therapy' will be most useful.

    Thanks again,


  • When I was trying to work out what the heck was going on with me last year I got aggressive as well. I've broke a few dishes and I started really swearing at my husband as I was so frustrated with myself and being unable to think clearly or understand what was going on with me. I fought going on anti-depressants to start with and it did take a while to get my medication sorted out. I think it was about 8 months in all by the time I took on set of medication tried to let it settle, then had to come off that before taking something else. I was fortunate that my GP understood that I didn't want to be on the tablets at all and helped me to get booked in for some CBT programs and group programs as well as referring me on to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist referral didn't work as it was loccums I was seeing and it was making me worse seeing different people all the time.

    I paid to see a psychologist privately which was great to see the same person all the time and she helped me refresh the skills I already had and learn new ones to help me cope.

    I also got an inflatable punch tower, that was my idea after telling her I needed some anger management advise, and when I feel anger I use that rather than breaking dishes or hurting myself.

    My husband decided to leave rather than see a counsellor with me. He didn't even want to attend one of the classes I did to help support me. Unfortunately when he moved out he decided to move in with another woman and couldn't see why that was making me worse, cause he said he was staying in her spare room but that she'd just left her husband. Told him I was ill not stupid and if he insisted on moving in there rather than with another friend I knew had offered him a place or even into the house my sister offered him, then we were through as I would not be able to trust him again. So now we are getting divorced.

    I hope things work out with you and your wife. Sometimes a break is a good thing that allow everyone gain perspective. I miss my husband, but I can't stay with someone I am unable to trust and I don't know if I could trust him again. (too many un-answered questions about why he stopped talking to me, all my fault apparently). Anyway enough of my wallowing in my problems.

    Have you spoken to your counsellor about the anger you are feeling as they may be able to help you with that. Sometimes if there is stuff bottled up from your past this can affect things. When I was working with mine a whole list of things came out from my past and it has helped me deal better with some issues that I'd closed off rather than dealing with them.

    I hope you and your wife are staying in touch and I wish you the best.

    I personally find that I need to trust someone before I can work with them. So I'd say if you feel uncomfortable or unsure of you trust your counsellor then look for someone else.

    These days I use breathing exercises, thought diaries and exercise to help control any anger I have. Didn't quite work out this evening as I felt really angry but at least I was able to hold in that anger until I got home where as in the past I would have just let the anger out and said something that I would regret or burst out crying. So I am glad that I can control it better.

    I wish you well and hope things work out for you.

    I'm always here if you need to talk.

  • Good evening and thanks for the supporting message. I am seeing my counsellor tomorrow and will tell her exactly how I am feeling - really guilty, lonely and afraid (for what the future holds) at this time. Plus some anger creeping in as my wife has not been in touch as she had promised. Have loaned a self help anger management book today which will be my bedtime reading later. I am supposed to see the counsellor weekly but unfortunately this had become fortnightly due me cancelling (to attend a family funeral) and her being away last week. I think she will be surprised how much my mood has spiralled down.......

    I'm very sorry to hear about your marriage breakdown - some men cannot cope with illness (mental and physical) and just need an "out" (excuse).

    Anyway thanks again, tomorrow is another day.....hopefully better.

  • Hi, You will feel better once you've spoken to your counsellor. Might be worth while writing down quick notes on how you feel so that you remember everything when you see her. I was always forgetting things when I first spoke to my doctor and counsellor. :-D

    I know it hurts right now, but you need to take care of yourself and ensure that you get better, you'll be able to cope better with whatever the future holds if you are feeling better.

    Take care.

  • Hi Barrie aggression was part of my diagnosis for my depression and frustration and fatigue due to work erratic shift patterns.was on cit 20 mg for 6 months.was horrible at first but helped me through now on 10 mg day slow taper off its a long ride my friend decision making self blame future worry.dont even try to contemplate about things like that they will be sorted out when they need to be.concentrate on you 1 in 4 people get depression don't worry about what your wife's family think when you get through this and you will you will be a stronger more empathic and empowered person there is light at the end my friend and always good advice stay strong and focus on you.

  • hi Barrie , so sorry to hear of your troubles . I have suffered depression for many years but the anger came with a vengeance two years ago , a new partner , kind gentle man took the brunt of it ....i,m trying to deal with my problems and learn not to get angry it's hard . I find mindfulness helpful ...sadly depression and anxiety are linked ...and anxiety can stimulate anger . If you are feeling lonely this is a great place to be , support and reassurances always on hand . Hope you having an ok day today ...try and keep strong


  • Thanks for your kind supportive words Virginia, there are so many good people on this site I'm glad I found it. Have loaned a self help anger management book so will start that shortly. Today OK(ish).......thanks again. Barrie

  • Hi Barrie, I think irritability is a listed feature of depression. I have had depression for over 20 years and anger has been an issue for me. I think its anger towards my parents that I havnt been able to express. I have read that depression is anger turned in on the self. I think medication and mindfulness help.

  • Hi, I have found mindfulness breathing is especially good for me I am glad my psychologist suggested it. I think there is various things we get angry about , we get angry at ourselves for being ill, we get angry at the people who have abandoned us when we need them and who we may have helped in the past, we get angry at the situations that we feel have caused our issues or at not knowing what the cause was. I think it's part of us trying to figure out what is going on that we get angry. Well that's the conclusion I came to. I decided it was okay to get angry, get it out of my system so that I can start to heal. :-D

    I still get angry, but am able to control in better and I have a nice inflatable punch tower if it gets too much for me I can pound it out until I feel better. :-D

  • Hi and thanks for the messages. Making notes is a good idea as I always seem to remember something important just as the session has to close. Think there are many reasons for my anger at the moment, most of them trivial I suppose but heaped together it's a big problem. Have started reading Overcoming Anger and Irritability by Dr William Davies, seems easy to understand and uses CBT techniques of which I need to find out more, as well as mindfulness which is a new one on me. Sounds like the punch tower works for you! Again thank you so much.

  • I kind of echo what you said 20voices. I have had pretty bad confrontations with people over the last couple of years, including one recently. One was with a member of the public whilst driving a company vehicle, needless to say I lost that job. I can't say that any of them didn't deserve some form of conflict, but I did go overboard with the last guy and attacked his car which wasn't good. In all fairness I had signed up for anger management before this happened so I was aware of the problem. Thing you have to try and keep in mind is how it comes across to regular people who don't have the same issues. When I think back to that I do feel pretty lousy. At the end of the day I have taken responsibility for it and asked myself questions like 'is this the kind of person you want to be' and 'is this how you want to be seen' and the answer is clearly not. I've got anger issues yes, but I need to reserve them for the persons that caused the grievance.

    As you said 20, sometimes when you get to a stage of clarity, you ask yourself why you've allowed yourself to get so ill, missing out on a lot in life and not making the most of your potential. Depression does take a lot out of you and meanwhile life is moving on past you. I guess Barrie you need to go through this process, understand your wife also needs a time out and keep coming back on here for support.

  • Hi Warren,

    You are right about learning how to deal with the anger, but you know sometimes no matter how much someone has hurt you sometimes it's better to be the bigger and better person and learn how to deal with those people who you have a grievance with without getting too abusive. When I was at my best I'd sometimes just walk away and not having any dealings with that person again. I am working back to that. I am working back to that and I have the clear image in my head of the people and issues that cause me pain and zap my energy being sucked down a huge drain and those people and events and things I do that make me feeling happy and confident being like a sun and it's rays making the world and me better and happier. (The image comes from a seminar I did years ago at work about unlocking our potential and we spoke about drains and radiators.) I get every good images in my head when things strike a cord with me. Lines from songs or something that someone says can innovate every strong images in my head.

    I also use my sport as a good way to remove bad thoughts and feelings from me. Everytime I hit the target that issue is being sucked out of me. The closer I get to the middle the more the bad feelings are removed, so if I am having a bad night I need to work harder. So it's improving my shooting. I also use my arts and crafts and even tidying up the house as tools of bringing good feelings into me and my life. :-D

    If I was to say this type of thing to some of the people i know they would be requesting a straight jacket for me, but I know that most people on this forum will get what I mean and how it is helping me. :-D

  • I know what you mean :)

  • Hi Barrie,

    You are welcome. It is funny how all the trivial things add up, but what I found when I started with my psychologist is that if you don't address them then they just fester and make things worse. So I found it good to go through everything and work out what really matter and which ones I should just let go of. I did a CBT course on anxiety and depression and then a group course on Stress Control, both were very helpful and then I learned more about mindfulness with my psychologist and she helped me to understand some of the things in the other courses that I struggled with.

    Good luck with your meeting. You will get there. One day at a time. :-D

    Take care.


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