According to the National Institute of Mental Health, irritability is one of the most common mental health ailments affecting Americans.
So what is it that makes us so easily irritated? The best evidence we have to back up the claim that it’s our mood that affects our feelings and behavior comes from the research of Dr. John Gottman, a neurobiologist and the chief of psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Dr. Gottman is the scientist who first isolated the chemical serotonin that makes us feel good and that is responsible for our feelings of well-being. As a psychologist, he has spent much of the last 25 years studying the effects of mood swings on the human brain. His evidence is that when we’re angry, for example, our brain is less able to focus attention on the task at hand and therefore we’re less likely to get our job done.
He’s made his point, but it’s not as easy as saying, “well, that’s a good thing.” He’s done plenty of studies to prove that people who are angry have reduced levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in goal-directed behavior. But it’s not an entirely black and white case.
Many studies have shown that people with less dopamine (or whatever you want to call the neurotransmitter in our brains) are more prone to anger. So naturally, this is a pretty good reason to keep an eye on your moods. A study that followed patients with depression for 2 years found that the patients had less of a problem with anger during the study than the control group.
One thing we did notice about the patients was that they seemed to be less sensitive to the things that used to be part of their anger. So that’s a good sign that, in general, dopamine activity is not part of our anger control. But it is a good idea to keep an eye on your moods. The study was still a while ago, but it’s certainly possible that it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on your moods.
We can’t always make sure that we get a good control for our emotions, but we can take some steps to control our moods. For instance, we can try to reduce our emotions by doing things that are more pleasant or relaxing. We can also, in a more extreme approach, try to “tamper” with our moods to see how they change.
There’s no doubt that we have a bad time. There’s no question that we have an inner-angst at times. We’re the ones who do that. We can control it, and we should. There are ways to do that. But I don’t think most of us can ever do it on a consistent basis, so we should look for an alternative. Anger is a great example.
Anger is a natural emotion, but it can flare up in a lot of different ways. When we get angry we have to take a few steps to try and deal with it. The first step is to recognize that something isn’t right. If it seems like something is wrong, it’s because it is. The next step is to try to figure out what it is that you’re angry about.
So you need to figure out what the problem is, and then try to figure out what you can do to fix it. The problem is that if something is wrong with your body, then your anger is going to be difficult to control. This brings us to the next step. The next step is to try to figure out what the problem is.