Psychology & Psychiatry

Childhood trauma has been linked to an increased tendency to be angry in anxious or depressive patients.

Scientists have discovered that people who suffer from depression and anxiety tend to be irritable as adults, and the more severe the trauma, the angrier the adult will be. This not only makes it more difficult to treat depression and anxiety, but it can also have an impact on one’s mental health and social interactions. At the European Congress of Psychiatry in Paris, this work will be presented.

The researchers had previously discovered that over 40% of patients with both anxiety and depression were prone to anger. This is less than 5% of the healthy controls. The current study utilized data from the ongoing Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety, which aimed to examine the progression of depression and anxiety disorders over a number of years.

Beginning in 2004, questions about their childhoods were asked to participants ranging in age from 18 to 65; 2276 people had participated in the study by the time it was over. They were able to determine over the course of several years whether there had been any childhood trauma, such as parental loss, divorce, or placement in care. They also inquired about emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect. Later, the participants’ psychiatric symptoms, such as an anger problem and how it manifested itself, were also assessed for depression and anxiety.

“This study investigates the underappreciated symptom of anger and its relationship to early experiences. The findings are consistent with what we see in therapeutic practice and should assist raise awareness of the impact of both rage and accompanying childhood trauma. “

Dr. Julian Beezhold (University of East Anglia, Secretary General of the European Psychiatric Association)

“There is surprisingly little research on anger in general,” said lead researcher Nienke De Bles of Leiden University in the Netherlands. Although the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety is a well-established study that has produced a lot of useful scientific data, little research has been done to examine the data on childhood trauma to see if this is linked to higher levels of anger. We have now discovered a connection.”

Anxious or depressed individuals with a history of emotional neglect or physical or psychological abuse were between 1.3 and 2 times more likely to have anger issues, according to our findings. Additionally, we discovered that the likelihood of adult rage increased with the severity of a child’s trauma. We can’t say for sure if the trauma is to blame for the anger, but there is a clear connection.

We discovered that children who had experienced emotional neglect had a greater propensity to mature into adults who were irritable or easily angered, whereas children who had experienced physical abuse had a greater propensity to experience anger outbursts or personality traits that were antisocial. A greater sensitivity to rejection may have contributed, but this needs to be confirmed, to the tendency of sexual abuse victims to suppress their anger.

“Being easily angered can have a number of consequences,” she went on to say. It has the potential to complicate interpersonal interactions and have negative effects on mental health and wellbeing. However, this anger may mean that it reduces their chances of a better life because people who are easily angered also have a greater tendency to stop receiving psychiatric treatment.

The therapist might miss the person’s anger if they keep it inside. We accept that it ought to be standard practice to get some information about outrage and past injury, regardless of whether the patient is displaying current annoyance. The psychiatrist must endeavor to comprehend the cause in order to provide each patient with the appropriate treatment, because psychiatric treatments for past trauma may differ from those for current depression.

“This study looks at the somewhat neglected symptom of anger and its association with childhood experience,” said Dr. Julian Beezhold, who is the Secretary General of the European Psychiatric Association and works at the University of East Anglia. The findings are consistent with what we see in everyday clinical practice and should hopefully help raise awareness of the significance of anger and the trauma it causes in childhood.” This work did not involve Dr. Beezhold.

Paris will host the 2023 European Congress of Psychiatry from March 25 to March 28.

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