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#57 Irritable? -

What is irritability? What causes it? How do I treat it? Wow. Can I really tackle this subject in one blog? We shall see.

Let’s start with Webster’s dictionary. Irritable = having or showing a tendency to be easily annoyed or made angry. Grumpy. Moody. Crotchety. Bad-tempered. Grouchy. Cantankerous. Ill-humored. Disagreeable. Crabby. On a short fuse. There were about 30 more definitions in the dictionary I checked.

And only two for the opposite – good-humored and easygoing.

Do you know what causes you to be irritable? If you don’t know, stop and think about it the next time you are out of sorts. What’s going on? If you can figure out the cause, you might be able to have an “attitude adjustment.” It’s possible it’s a tiny thing that you haven’t considered before.

Small things can really be stressful when we are already irritable or out-of-sorts. There’s a snowball effect here. What makes us lash out at someone can cause them to get mad at us. Anger can multiply.

Here are some possible causes.

  • Hungry
  • Not getting your way
  • Something hurts (a headache? – link #53)
  • Indecision  (trying to decide on treatment?)
  • Worry (Is my tumor growing?)
  • Stress
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Low Blood sugar
  • Emotional exhaustion (Trying to make a treatment or doctor decision, or dealing with grief or a loss?).
  • Hormonal changes
  • Depression (link #15) (The surgery didn’t bring expected relief of symptoms?)
  • Anxiety
  • Thinking about or exposure to phobic situations.
  • Fear

Of course, the treatment varies depending on the cause. If we can’t figure out the treatment on our own, a visit to the doctor might help. It’s possible an underlying disease – in addition to the one you know about – is contributing to the mood issue. Especially if the mood persists. Medications or counseling can help if the problem is severe or often. 

Tips that might help the everyday kind of irritability include:

  • Exercise – a walk can do wonders for the mood. Irritability activates our fight-or-flight response, so it might help to walk off some nervous energy.  
  • Eating regularly (not just sweets).
  • A regular sleep schedule (getting enough sleep).
  • Keeping a journal can help keep track of irritability, what causes it, and what helps with it.
  • Think about things you can give thanks for, the things that are going right in your life.
  • Slow, deep breathing and meditation can calm our moods.
  • Go to a support group meeting or share your feelings with a trusted friend.
  • Do some yoga stretches.
  • Find a quiet place to think. Sometimes we need to disengage from the commotion or activity around us.
  • Listen to music.
  • Take a bath.  


Readers: What helps you with this issue? Do you know what causes you to be irritable? What do you do about it?


Dear Jesus, Sometimes I feel out of sorts, miserable. It’s at those times that I’m not very loving to others. Forgive me and help me to feel better about my situation. Amen.

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

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