The Secret Roots of Irritation

by Michael G Quirke, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.


Feeling too much frustration? Maybe you have one of the five most common co-factors

Did you know that there may be hidden co-cofactors that keep your anger burning quietly? If you have ever been camping, you know that there is a point each evening when it comes time to let the campfire die down so that everyone can go to sleep.  Maybe you have noticed that the fire doesn’t usually stop instantly.  In fact, it can burn slowly and softly for hours if not days.

Just like a campfire, our anger can have hidden embers that keep burning even after an upsetting incident has passed. What are these embers? They are the five most common co factors that are found in people who experience chronic frustration and anger.

Depression. Anger usually occurs when we feel the need to protect ourselves, or when we are trying to get someons’s attention.  When your angry side kicks in, it may be because there is another side of you that is feeling hurt, sad, hopeless, isolated or ashamed.  Although it’s normal to feel this way sometimes, if you are feeling this way a lot, you might be suffering from depression.  In fact, sometimes people become depressed after they have “given up“ on unsuccessfully trying to connect deeply with someone significant.

Anxiety. If your cranky side has kicked in, it may be because there is some part of you that is feeling nervous or vulnerable.

High Stress Simply having too much to do and too little time to do it can increase the frequency of of irritable outbursts.

Fatigue Research has indicated that being just a little bit sleep deprived makes a big difference in our ability to roll with whatever life throws our way.  If you are tired, you might be cranky.

Substances Drugs and alcohol effect many parts of the brain.  They particularly impact the hippocampus.  This is the section of the brain that plays a big role in processing your emotions.  Although wine may be good for your heart, and pot may be “natural”, it’s naïve to think that there is no emotional cost to using them chronically.

Trauma The experience of having your personal safety violated, or witnessing someone else’s safety being violated changes the way that your brain manages itself when if feels threatened.  If you have been though relationships or incidents that were unsafe, you may be prone to anger easily.


E-mail me at michael@michaelgquirke.com or

call me at (415) 820-3943 and I would be happy to schedule a free fifteen minute phone consultation with you. Couple Counseling is Available in my San Francisco and San Mateo offices.

Looking forward to speaking with you!
Michael G. Quirke, MFT

CA License#39030