Bipolar disorder works in phases. There are periods of mania and depression lasting from a few days to months at a time, but there are periods in between that are mostly symptom-free. Anxiety disorders do not give reprieve. The severity of symptoms may increase and decrease, but they manifest themselves the majority of the time. Unfortunately, at least half of bipolar patients also have diagnosable anxiety disorders. When this happens, irritability is more likely to be a frequent symptom of bipolar disorder.
Experiencing irritability is not limited to those with both anxiety and bipolar disorders. Irritability is frequently listed a symptom of bipolar disorder on its own, and at least 75% of people with bipolar disorder experience it at some point. The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5) lists the word “irritability” no less than 34 times in the chapter covering bipolar disorder.
The DSM-5 says irritability can outwardly manifest as “complaints, hostile comments, or angry tirades.” Other symptoms include impatience, confusion, anger and rapid heart rate. Irritability can be experienced throughout all episodic stages and types of bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania and depression.