Signs of Frustration

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 23, 2020

What Is Frustration?

Frustration is an emotional response to stress. It's a common feeling that everyone will experience in their life. Some people experience frustration in the short-term — like a long wait in the grocery store — but for others, frustration can be long-term. 

The stressor can vary according to the individual, but some common stressors that lead to frustration are:

  • Stress at work
  • Pursuing a goal that you cannot attain
  • Trying to solve a problem and not finding a solution

The definition of frustration is the feeling of irritability or anger because of the inability to achieve something. Being in a constant state of frustration can lead to many problems in your life.

If you continue pursuing a goal without any result, the frustration you feel can lead to other emotions that affect your well-being and mental health, such as:

Types of Frustration

Frustration can come from internal or external sources. A helpful part of solving daily frustrations is to recognize if your frustration is internal or external. 

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Internal frustration

This means you are frustrated with yourself or your reaction. It can mean you’re unhappy with the way you reacted in a situation.

External frustration

With external frustration, the stressor, or the thing that’s causing your frustration, is outside of you. That can mean things like wasting time in traffic, or barriers to something you want to achieve.

Examining the situation to determine where the cause of frustration stems from can be a useful first step in solving your dilemma. 

Signs of Frustration

Frustration can manifest itself in many different ways. There are numerous ways to spot someone who is frustrated. People who are frustrated usually become irritable and stressed.

Some of the typical responses of frustration are: 

  • Losing your temper
  • Incessant bodily movement, such as tapping fingers constantly and perpetual sighing 
  • Giving up, leaving
  • Feeling sad or anxious
  • Lacking self-confidence 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Turning to drugs and alcohol 
  • Bodily abuse, starving oneself, or irregular eating habits

Long-term frustration can be hard on the body. Symptoms of long-term frustration can manifest in different ways. It can affect all aspects of your life, even your sleep patterns. 

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Excessive Frustration Can Lead to Nightmares 

Studies show that long-term frustration in your daily life can also lead to nightmares.

This can happen if frustration is making you feel incompetent. If your needs for fulfillment in your daily life are not being met, that can also result in poor sleep and nightmares. 

The Relationship Between Frustration and Aggression

People who experience large amounts of frustration in their lives can also be prone to exhibiting aggressive behavior. This frustration could stem from a variety of factors, from personal problems to societal issues. 

Frustration can also lead to negative self-talk that induces a negative spiral of thinking, leading to more aggressive behavior. A frustrated mindset can lead to negative thinking in other day-to-day aspects of life, such as driving. Being frustrated while driving can lead to aggressive decisions on the road, endangering yourself and others.

Dealing With Frustration

When coping with frustration, it’s important to get to the root of the problem. These feelings won’t go away on their own, so you need to figure out what’s causing them.

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You can start by taking these steps to determine the cause of your frustration:

  • Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Talking out loud can help you sort through what you’re feeling, instead of keeping it inside. 
  • Start journaling. Writing your feelings and experiences down can help you gain perspective and relieve frustration. It’s also a useful tool when you want to look back and see how far you’ve come.
  • Find an alternate way to accomplish your goal or restructure your plan. 
  • Recognize what you can change and what you can’t. Accepting the situation can relieve frustrated feelings when you realize you don’t have control over what happened. 
  • Exercise produces endorphins, making you feel accomplished and relieving stress.

Recognizing feelings of frustration is the first step to overcoming them. If you continue to have issues with frustration and anger, speak with a professional or consider joining a support group. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES: 

Frontiers in Psychology: “Effect of Frustration on Brain Activation Pattern in Subjects with Different Temperament.”

Psych Central: “How to Identify and Overcome Frustration.”

Merriam-Webster: “Frustration.”

Motivation and Emotion: “Linking psychological need experiences to daily and recurring dreams.”

American Psychological Association: “Frustration and aggression.”

Mental Health America: “18 Ways to Cope with Frustration.”

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