Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.


Irritability Overview

What is the medical significance of irritability?
Mild irritable behavior is a normal part of human emotion. However, irritability is significant when it becomes constant or severe. Severe brain infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis, can cause excessive irritability. Additional causes for irritability include a personality disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, drug side effect, metabolic imbalance, glandular disorders, and neurological disease.

What symptoms can be associated with irritability?
Symptoms that can occur with irritability include mood swings, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, hyperactivity, and inappropriate happiness. Other symptoms that could indicate a serious underlying infection include fever, chills, confusion, headache, and neck pain.

How does the doctor treat irritability?
Treatment for irritability depends on the underlying cause. General treatment may include hormone replacement therapy for menopause, oral contraceptives for premenstrual syndrome, mental health counseling, and medication for depression or anxiety. Infectious causes require prompt and aggressive treatment with intravenous antibiotics.

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