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Things To Do When Feeling Irritable

These methods may not work for everyone, as sometimes irritability can be quite severe, especially if it occurs in a PANDAS / PANS flare - but some of these ideas may help some people. These methods are less likely to work for rage attacks, which are more extreme.

1) Get Something to eat - Sometimes when we are hungry or haven't eaten enough, we can become quite irritable and snappy. Be sure to eat enough to get enough energy so that your brain can function.

Lower than normal levels of blood sugar can sometimes present as irritability, so it is important to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

2) Find healthy ways to release the irritability - Sometimes it is more about releasing the irritability in healthy ways rather than 'calming down'. Sometimes trying to calm down can cause us to feel even more wound up as we need a release.

Healthy ways of releasing irritability can include dancing to loud / angry music, doing sport, having a punching bag etc.

3) Do something which distracts the mind - Sometimes when we are irritable, we may have lots of angry and annoyed thoughts in our mind that we feel like we cannot control. Doing something which distracts our mind allows us to focus on something else until the irritability passes. This has to be an activity that absorbs us and does not cause stress.

4) Do something relaxing - Whilst some people need to release their irritability in healthy ways, some people need something that relaxes them.

Having time away from stress and responsibilities could help someone feel less irritable as it takes some of the pressure away. So having a time purely for rest and listening to your body and taking it easy when you feel irritable may help.

5) Doodle - Doodling on a piece of paper may be helpful for some people. You can press down on the page as hard as you like and scribble to let out your frustrations, or you could mesmerise and distract yourself by drawing patterns.

6) Avoid sensory overload - Sensory overload can be a huge trigger for irritability as the brain may struggle to process sensory input.

Staying in calm environments without too much stimulation may help, and if you are in an overstimulating environment then know that it is okay to take breaks. If you are feeling irritable once returning home from an overwhelming environment, see if you can turn off the lights and just have dim lighting from a lamp and sit in a quiet environment.

7) See if food dye sensitivity is a trigger - This is not always the case, but some people find that irritability can be triggered by food dye sensitivity. Some people report experiencing aggression after the consumption of food dyes (this can be a delayed reaction).

For those with a food dye sensitivity, the consumption of food dyes can trigger hyperactivity and aggression. 1

8) Suppressing tics can sometimes cause people to feel irritable as the urge to tic accumulates, until someone feels as if their body is full of pressure. This can be uncomfortable and distressing and may cause someone to seem 'snappy'. Ticcing freely may help reduce this.

9) Go out in nature - Nature can have a very calming effect and is something that has helped me a lot. If you feel yourself becoming slightly irritable, then going out or a walk or sitting by some trees may allow you to let off some steam and feel more calm.


  1. Amen Clinics. (2016). What is Red Dye 40? ADHD And Brain Health | Amen Clinics. [online] Available at:

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, this is not intended to be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a qualified physician, this is to be used for educational purposes only. For medical advice, please see a medical practitioner.


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