Anger and hostility in depression

J Nerv Ment Dis. 1989 Nov;177(11):668-74. doi: 10.1097/00005053-198911000-00002.


The present study examined the relationship between depression and various dimensions of anger using multiple measures of anger and hostility and comparing depressed subjects with both a normal sample and a clinical sample with predominant anger difficulties. Three groups of subjects were obtained: a normal sample of 120 parents of elementary school children, 36 psychiatric inpatients meeting Research Diagnostic Criteria for major depressive episode, and 54 hospitalized veterans meeting Diagnostic Interview Schedule criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The three groups differed significantly on all measures of anger experience, hostility, anger suppression, and anger expression. The depressed group reported greater levels of hostility and anger experience than the normal group but less than the PTSD group. On measures of anger suppression and expression, the depressed group exhibited more suppression than either the normal or the PTSD group and generally reported levels of anger expression comparable with the normal group's. The PTSD group reported the highest levels of anger expression. Within the depressed group, severity of depression was positively associated with levels of hostility and anger experience but was not related to measures of anger expression and was only partially related to anger suppression. These results are discussed as they relate to the "anger turned in" hypothesis of psychodynamic theories of depression, and directions for future research are noted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anger*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales