Is crankiness/irritability an indication of depression?

I am normally a fairly "emotionally impulsive"TM person (sounds better than impatient or short-tempered).

But for the past few months I have been markedly crankier than usual. I am very easily irritated and I find that my mood swings quite quickly and quite often from happy and positive to grouchy and negative.

A couple of years ago my doctor thought I might be depressed so he prescribed Paxil, but I stopped taking it after a few weeks because I found out I was pregnant. The two years since then I have been “normal” for me, but these past few months have me worried.

I am stressed about money and my work situation, so it’s hard for me to judge if my mood is related to that stress, or if it’s a deeper, chemical-type issue.

How do I know? My doctor will chalk it up to stress, I’m quite sure, but I find this moodiness is impacting my work and my marriage, so I’m reluctant to be too casual about it. Help?

(If it matters, I am a 37 year old woman, happily married, and a proud mother of 1 beautiful little girl).

Bolding mine.

IANAD, please keep that in mind. But, I am surrounded by mental illness both in family and relationships.

IMHO, this is what sets a bad day and depressive symptoms every once in awhile apart from Depression, a real disease.

If your doctor chalks it up to just stress, you might want to ask him for a referral to a psychologist, for a better informed second opinion.

Yes, it is. That’s one of the ways I can tell how well my meds are working, actually. If every little thing is setting me off and putting me in a bad mood, I know it’s time for an adjustment.

See your doctor, and don’t just say, “I feel cranky.” Say “I have noticed a marked shift in my moods. I am feeling a lot more cranky and irritable lately. I think I might have depression.”

Yes. I was briefly depressed while on The Pill (now I know the difference between just being sad and real depression!) and I still have scribbles I wrote at the time. I was ready to kill people for sitting next to me on the bus. Or eating near me. Or wearing bright colors.

It may be capital-D Depression, but it sounds like it’s pretty mild and you likely would benefit a lot from some counseling. They give out Paxil and other anti-depressants like jellybeans, so you might not want to start taking anything until you see how the therapy is going.

Also, and I know this sounds like crazy-talk, eating nutritious food and getting regular exercise and quality sleep are amazing for relieving stress and depression. I’ve battled Depression from time to time (runs in the family!), and I find everything is much better when I’m taking care of myself. It can be challenging with a husband and child to look after, but you can’t do your best at that if you don’t take care of yourself first.

I just wanted to add that crankiness/irritability may also be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Of course, when you have both depression and anxiety going on, it can be hard to tell what symptoms go with what mental disorder, but this is not an irrelevant issue if you are considering medications. I would strongly, strongly advise that you see a mental health professional. I truly don’t believe your average GP is qualified to make that call–what you need is an expert in the field.

Good on you, BTW, for dealing with this before it gets out of control!

I would also get some bloodwork done with your doctor. A family friend went through a stage of being really moody and irritable and they discovered he was diabetic. When it got treated he went back to his usual mellow self.

IANAD but there are other things that can cause depression and mood swings. I would definitely see your doctor and ask for a complete blood work-up.

I know when I went to see my doc for depression the first time they checked my thyroid, blood sugar, kidneys and liver just to name a few. I would think there would be a few things that you’d want to rule out before just defaulting to an SSRI.

Has anything in your life changed recently? Also, how’s your child doing? Is he/she sleeping well? I ask because I have a 15-month old and when he started throwing tantrums, I found that I was also cranky and irritable for a couple of weeks. He hasn’t stopped throwing tantrums (quite the opposite) - I just got better at handling my response to them. Initially, they were like nails on a chalkboard; now, they’re irritating, but expected and more calmly dealt with. Also, whenever he goes through a growth spurt or cuts a new tooth, he’s up and down over and over at night, which really drains me both physically and emotionally.

Either way, I’m glad you’re talking to your doctor. And I definitely appreciate that there are a lot of people on this board who have encouraged considering alternative therapies (i.e., exercise, eating right, etc.) prior to trying prescriptions.

I’ve dealt with only mild depression myself, and I found that what worked best for me was exercise and sleep (something that’s a precious commodity with a young child). Also, alone time, something I almost never get, is extremely helpful, especially if I don’t waste it watching TV.

Because so many things can mimic clinical depression, it is vital that you speak to your doctor regarding your symptoms. And yes, irritability is a symptom. Some people don’t get sad. They get deeply angry. That was my last bout. I felt like my temper was down to a nub about 1/2" short, and that any little thing cause the last bit of fuse to go off. I hated the people around me. I hated the world. I hated things I knew about only in the most abstract sense. I went back on my prescribed SSRI, and the anger evaporated after about a week and a half, but then I’m lucky that I respond so quickly to medication.

A couple of things that have helped me: get out into the sunlight and do a little gardening. Direct sunlight helps the brain regulate itself. It resolves stress and recalibrates the circadian rhythm. Gardening involved manual labor - which helps - but there was also a paper released in the last few months that found that the smell of soil, specifically of the beneficial bacteria in soil, can actually help lift depression. One of the things I did along with taking my meds was get out and garden a couple of days in a row, and I have no doubt that it helped.

Not such crazy-talk at all. I’m a depressive, with some anxiety crap and compulsive-obsessive chucked in for good measure. To function properly, and keep up with all my commitments, I must have proper food (at least once in a while, usually 'cause I’m in too much of a pressure-pressure rush most of the time) and good kip. If both factors are lacking, I hit the wall. Crankiest, most evil-tempered and negative Ice Wolf imaginable. Only my truest friends stay the course with me when I’m like that.

I attribute my own current positive attitude to good sleep, happiness during the day, and supplements.

I have an anxiety disorder, and if I don’t take meds, I turn in to Cranky Bitch From Hell. Whether there’s any reason for anxiety in my life or not, I still have anxiety and it makes me snappy, cranky, and causes me not to sleep, which aggravates all of the other problems.

Doesn’t sound like depression to me. I say this only because I’ve had bouts of depression…which were mostly marked by feleing de-pressed. Weighted down. Unable to do anything but sit and stare off into the the middle distance. I didn’t have the energy to be crancky. Of course YMMV. But it sounds more like an anxity disorder. I’m doning much better on anti-anxiety medication (buspar, now anitivan) than I did on anti-depressants.

Other the other hand my mother (who happens to have a PhD. in her back pocket ) suggests it’s bipolar 2. Which would be a different medication…just things to bring up with your doctor. Not easy. I’ve been playing the “What’s wrong with me” game for a while. These things are notabley hard to pin down. But blood work is a good idea as is a therapist 'cause whatever it is a pill will probably not be enough.

Good luck!

Could be burn-out.

Caveat: only you can know if you’re depressed or not. If you think you are, get medication and/or therapy ASAP. The following is only my opinion based on a paragraph of your writing, and should not be taken seriously.

I don’t think you’re depressed, not in the clinical sense. If you go to a doctor or psychiatrist though, not only will you be diagnosed with major depression, but you’ll also be given an SSRI. The overdiagnosis of depression is perhaps unavoidable: No doctor wants to be responsible for telling a person she’s not depressed, only to have her commit suicide the next day. Better safe than sorry. (There’s also a lot of pressure from the drug industry, but I won’t get into that).

Depression is inappropriate sadness – a response to your environment that’s abnormally severe and debilitating. Most people know it when they have it. That’s not to say that your emotional state is not having an impact on your life, or that you shouldn’t seek to solve the problem. All I’m saying is that I don’t think you have a mental illness or that your brain chemicals are out-of-whack.

An SSRI will likely make you less cranky after awhile, but there are side-effects, some of them quite a bit more severe than many doctors care to admit. If you’re depressed, there’s no doubt that the benefits are worth the side-effect profile, but in other cases, therapy alone may be a better option. The fact is, nobody knows exactly how or why SSRIs work, and like all other mind-altering substances, they should be approached with caution.

Again, it’s all up to you. It seems to me that you know what’s causing your unhappiness and this reaction is not inappropriate. Are there positive changes you can make to your life that will alleviate some of the stress? It may be useful to talk to a therapist to help you figure out exactly what can be done. And sometimes it’s just useful to have a sounding board – putting your thoughts into words can really clarify your feelings.

IANAD, but my pelvic affiliate is bipolar, and an RN, which has taught me a lot about mental illness and medication. From what she has told me, antidepressents (such as Paxil) cause a backlash of mania in people with BPD.

From what the OP says, I thinks it’s highly likely to be depression. But I will also echo the many posters who suggested an in-depth discussion with a doctor, and then possibly a therapist. Remember: if they don’t know everything that’s going on, they can’t diagnose accurately.

Same here. The changes can be so subtle even someone really in tune with their own moods might not be aware of it – at least until one of your friends finally says “Boy, you’ve been a real a*hole lately.”

On the bright side, this stage of depression is also highly responsive to cognitive and behavioral therapy, so you might not need medication. But you really should see someone about it.