6 min read

'Mom Rage': Why Am I So Angry?

Nothing prepared me for 'Mom Rage.' My moods felt out of control. I felt on edge or like I would snap the next person who spoke to me. Something needed to change.
Woman screaming with rage, anger, and frustration
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How to recognize and deal with Mom Rage

Do you ever feel a sudden, intense rage that comes out of nowhere?

Do you feel 'out-of-control' or have outbursts that are out of character?

Are you worried about your own lack of control?

After becoming a mother for the first time, 'Mom Rage' took me by surprise and shook me to my core. Before pregnancy, I was calm, mild-mannered, and easy-going. As I prepared for motherhood, I read tons of books and articles about child-rearing. As a psychologist, I did my research to get prepared for this new journey. I was ready, or so I thought. But nothing prepared me for the whirlwind of 'Mom Rage.'

Without warning, my moods felt out of control. One minute I would be happy, the next I was seething. I felt on edge or like I would snap the next person who spoke to me. Unfortunately, my spouse and children were on the receiving end of my mood swings.

Something needed to change. I needed to find a solution. The article below discusses what is 'Mom Rage', its common causes, and how to deal with it effectively.

Note: Although 'Mom rage' is a gendered term, it can occur to either parent and any caregiver of children. We will continue to refer to it as Mom Rage in this article since that is the most referred-to term for this phenomenon.  

What is 'Mom Rage?'

'Mom rage,' 'maternal rage,' or 'maternal anger' describes an intense anger that is unexplained. It is intense and disruptive to the life of the sufferer. This anger can be directed toward their children, spouse, or even themselves.
Although we are referring to it as 'Mom Rage,' it can happen to anyone. It is more likely to occur in those who experience mental health struggles. Those with depression, anxiety, and emotional regulation issues are more likely to experience it.

What does 'Mom Rage' feel and look like?
Everyone will experience 'Mom Rage' differently. In my experience, 'Mom Rage' feels like a sudden explosive anger that is intense but short-lived. It feels different from other types of anger, feeling more out of control and more irrational. During an episode, minor inconveniences build up to feel like insurmountable problems. It feels like everything is working against me.

Common Traits Linked with Mom Rage

1. Out-of-character Outbursts: These outbursts occur suddenly and can seem like a major overreaction. There is a feeling of loss of control. Minor inconveniences build up and each becomes a trigger that could set off an outburst.

2. Withdrawal: Mom Rage creates a cycle of negative emotions around your children, spouse, and self. You may withdraw from your family to try to reduce those negative emotions. It can also feel lonely. There is pressure in parenthood to only talk about the positives in child-rearing. If you say something negative, it must be sandwiched between, "But I love him so much," or "But she really is the best." Experiencing 'Mom Rage' made me feel like I was the only one going through this. I didn't speak to anyone about it. I thought it was only me.

3. Touched Out: The feeling of being burnt out with physical touch. The intense anger and build-up of triggers can make you feel on edge emotionally and physically. Physical touch may seem like another trigger. All you want to do is disappear and hide away where no one can touch you.

4. Intrusive Thoughts: Intrusive thoughts are involuntary thoughts or images that pop into your head. They can be very distressing or upsetting. The more distressing they are, the harder it can be to dispel them from your thoughts. Although they are highly disturbing to experience, they are normal. Mom rage can increase the odds of experiencing intrusive thoughts. You may have images or ideas about hurting your children, your spouse, or yourself. They can be violent or sexual in nature, making you fear doing something harmful or inappropriate.  

5. Cycle of Mom Rage and Mom Guilt: Mom Rage increases the strong negative feelings of anger, frustration, and isolation. Those negative feelings often turn to Mom Guilt. You feel bad that you are having those emotions in relation to your child[ren]. You feel guilty about your shortened temper and outbursts. The negative feelings turn inwards as you blame yourself. As you feel more guilt, it builds your anxiety, then stress, then transforms into rage once again. The cycle continues.  

Causes of Mom Rage

There is no single cause of Mom Rage and it likely occurs due to several factors working together.

1. Hormones: Birthing and breastfeeding mothers go through significant changes in their hormone levels during pregnancy and postpartum. These changes can leave you feeling like another person. Hormone imbalances can contribute to Postpartum Depression (PPD) and Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). Mom Rage can be a symptom of both PPD and PPA.

2. Baby's hormones: Babies' heads give off a molecule compound that influences human behavior. This compound increases aggressivity in women and decreases it in men. There is speculation that this has to do with infant survivability. Mammals mothers use aggression to protect their young while fathers use aggression to attack them.

3. Stress: Increased levels of stress release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. With stress, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Once you are in the mode, your body is primed to either withdraw or reactive aggressively. You are more likely to interpret neutral situations and comments as hostile. In turn, you then reactive aggressively too.

4. Lack of Sleep: Reduced sleep quality and not enough sleep can increase aggression. Poorer sleep quality led to deficits in emotional cognition (the ability to correctly interpret emotional states of others). Just like stress, lack of sleep makes people more likely to interpret neutral interactions as more hostile.

5. Lack of Support: The nuclear family (two parents and children) is only a very recent phenomenon in human history. Before, families were intergenerational, consisting of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This created a community (or a 'village') that would supervise and teach the children. Additionally, there is a lack of social support for new parents. Maternity leave and paternity leave are extremely limited in most cases. Childcare is expensive. Often, both parents have to work full time to afford to live.Parents are doing more than ever but with fewer resources. Many parents feel overwhelmed, burnt out, and disconnected from their loved ones.

Methods to Reduce Mom Rage

1. Recognize your own triggers: My biggest trigger is trying to juggle working and supervising my children simultaneously. It is the overwhelming feeling of trying to do both but failing each task that makes me feel on edge. By recognizing your own triggers, you can try to avoid them when possible.

2. Have a backup plan: When you recognize that initial buildup of frustration or the on-edge "Don't Touch Me" moment, use your backup plan. Ask for help when you need it. This may include asking your spouse to take over the childcare while you take a quick break. If there is no one around to help, you can put your children in a safe area while you take a moment to yourself in another room.  

3. Self-care: Adapting to new parenthood is an intense period. There is a mourning of your previous life. You learn what it means to prioritize someone else above you. This can sometimes come to the detriment of your own well-being. Self-care is an important skill to ensure that you remain at your optimal. The only sustainable way to give everything to your children is to give 100% to yourself. Like being on a plane, you put on your oxygen mask first before helping your children. Everyone's definition of self-care is different and you should do what makes you feel the best. My version is uninterrupted time to work out, a nighttime skincare routine, and writing.

4. Sleep: If you have not been getting enough sleep recently, it will affect your emotional regulation skills. Believe me, I know how hard it can be to get a full night's sleep (I have a five-month-old). Sleep is essential for decreasing your cortisol levels (your stress hormones). Try to get an uninterrupted 4 hours of sleep by taking night shifts with your partner. If that doesn't work, try to nap when your child naps.

5. Learn Coping Skills: Coping Skills are skills that help you deal with negative emotions. It can include deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, visualization, and meditation. Explore unique coping skills and find which ones suit you best.

6. Individual and Marriage Therapy: If you feel like your Mom Rage is more than you can handle on your own, therapy may be the answer. Regularly speaking to a counselor can help you feel less lonely. It can target all the contributing causes of it that you may have overlooked. A good psychologist helps you work through those issues and can recommend more support tactics.
If your Mom Rage is affecting your marriage, marriage counseling can be an excellent way to reconnect with your partner. A counselor can mediate conflict and help each of you recognize problem areas.


Understanding the causes of Mom Rage and using the methods listed above are only the first steps. Knowing does not automatically mean doing. It takes time and effort to recognize my triggers and proactively react. Dealing with it is a continuous battle, but it's one I'm willing it fight.

If you have experienced Mom Rage, leave a comment on your experience to help other readers feel less lonely.

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