Anger is an extreme or intense emotional response to a perceived threat, harm, or a provocation. It is accompanied by strong physical manifestations that can prove to be detrimental to the health of the person who tends to feel this emotion more regularly and frequently than how much a normal person should. While anger is a good thing and is important for one’s survival, it is important to learn how to manage it. It should be perceived as an emotion that is neither positive nor negative, but is instead simply a response to the threats in the environment. Anger truly becomes a severe problem when every single slightly provoking event begins to anger individuals to an extent that is unhealthy. Such events could be receiving slight criticism by others, or being stuck in a traffic jam, or internal frustrations due to having a bad day, etc. People with anger management problems do not know how to control their anger, or how to appropriately vent out their emotions.
Once the perception of an individual is changed, they may begin to see their environment differently. The same situations that they viewed as threats earlier, they’ll begin to view them as non threatening events that were clearly not intended to hurt or harm them.
You may have an anger problem if:
- Your angry outbursts are too frequent
- The emotions felt during such outbursts feel too intense
- Such outbursts last too long
- They lead to aggressive behaviour
- They disrupt your occupational and social functioning
Causes for Anger Issues
Just as we tend to become stressed out when our situational circumstances change drastically or life hits us with consecutive frustrating challenges, anger issues also seem to mainly arise from problems in a person’s environment.
Overwhelming requirements of one’s resources such as time and energy, financial problems, any kind of abuse, poor social and familial situations, etc. all contribute to the development of anger issues. Some genetic or hereditary links are also found as anger management issues are more prevalent in individuals whose parents also had problems with anger. Moreover, brain chemistry can also be associated with anger management issues because it is found that if your brain cannot respond normally to serotonin then you might find it difficult to regulate your emotions.
Signs and Symptoms of Anger Problems
Anger can cause a person to feel mentally, emotionally and physically frustrated and tense due to the increase in testosterone and cortisol levels. Following are some of the symptoms that may point to the presence of anger management issues.
Some emotions go hand in hand with anger. Thus, emotional problems that occur with anger are:
- A sense of being overwhelmed
- Racing thoughts
Anger can have a very bad impact on your health. The flow of stress chemicals and metabolic changes that are associated with anger constantly flood our system. This can prove to be detrimental for one’s health. Following are some of the short term and long term health problems and physical health symptoms that are linked to anger management issues:
- Digestion issues, pain in the abdomen
- High blood pressure
- Tingling sensation
- Muscle tension in all limbs or torso and head as well
Not knowing how to calm down from anger and how to control anger can lead to many other problems as well in the spheres of a person’s social life and career. Constructive criticism at the workplace, creative differences, debates with colleagues become triggers for a person who has anger issues. They alienate themselves from their managers, clients and supervisors. At the same time, their coworkers lose their respect for them. They may even face unemployment due to their behaviour.
Also, not controlling anger properly and letting it seep into your relationships can also cause the ties between you and your loved ones to weaken considerably. Some forms of anger, like explosive anger, can make it difficult for other people to trust you, or be comfortable with you. People may even stop being honest with you altogether. Anger issues can be especially damaging to children.
Types of Anger Issues
The following are the types of anger management issues:
- Chronic Anger
People with chronic anger issues get provoked very easily and feel angry over the smallest of the problems they may face in day-to-day life. They very frequently over-react to situations which often disrupts their social and occupational spheres of life.
- Passive Anger
Passive anger is anger that is unexpressed and is channeled into other emotions that could be sarcasm, spite, or apathy for the person they’re feeling angry towards. The person having problems with passive anger may not even be aware that the emotion they’re actually feeling is anger.
- Aggressive Anger
People with aggressive anger problems express it in very unhealthy and destructive ways. They may not get provoked very often, but when they do, it is a very unpleasant experience for them and those around them. This could completely destroy their relationships and career as aggressive anger is a serious problem. Ways in which aggressive anger is expressed is abusive language, passive aggressive behaviour, retaliatory actions, etc. At times they even express rage which is the unhealthiest and most extreme form of anger.
- Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)
This is the most severe anger management problem of all the ones that are discussed here. Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) involves experiences of distinct episodes of aggressive behaviour that are very violent responses relative to the amount of provocation. Such episodes occur very often and the anger expressed is like that of the kind of rage episodes people with aggressive anger issues may experience. Intermittent explosive disorder can lead to people critically damaging property, their relationships, their career and their well being.
Tips to Manage Anger Issues
Learning how to manage anger and how to control anger involves learning of some tried and tested strategies. These methods are simple, effective, and some of them can help you on the spot, other methods are intended to help you in the long term. Following are some anger management strategies:
- Relaxation Techniques
Anger can be conquered best by using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, creative visualization, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, etc. Repeating a calming word or statement and positive affirmations can also help control anger. Yoga asanas are also a powerful tool to help you in controlling anger.
- Cognitive Restructuring: Change The Way You Think
When you’re angry, think of the situation not in negative terms, but in realistic and rational terms. Try to stop telling yourself that the situation is “awful” or “terrible” or that you can’t do anything about it. Such perceptions occur because we’re angry and our thinking gets exaggerated and overly dramatic. Instead, resist thinking in this way and replace such thoughts with rational ones. Remember, logic defeats anger.
Exercising can help you reduce your stress that may be causing you to become angry, and at the same time, it can help you vent your anger in constructive and healthy ways. When you feel that your temper is getting out of hand, go ahead and do some cardio. Go out for a run, or a swim, or do some skipping, or push ups and pull ups, go to the gym or anything that works for you.
- Use Humor
Humor can light up the air in the most miraculous ways. It helps diffuse tension and makes you confront your triggers and unrealistic expectations for how things should go in a way that doesn’t make you flare up. It helps you let go. An important tip, though: you mustn’t try to laugh off your problems, but instead, face them using humor to become more grounded and rational in the way you think about your current situation.
- Problem Solving
Anger and frustration can often be justified and caused by things that are out of our control and at the same time quite disturbing. At these moments in our lives, we need to think using an attitude that lets us handle and face the problem in the most effective way possible. Making an action plan, giving your progress frequent checks, and facing your problem head-on without punishing yourself and giving it your best will help you ease up and control your anger.
- Improved Communication
When someone acts out of anger, they tend to jump to conclusions and such conclusions can often be based in irrational thoughts and perceptions of reality, and can be very inaccurate. When in a heated discussion, first, one must slow down and be mindful of what they speak, think and act. Body language is also a part of communication, so you must keep a close check on the non verbal cues that you’re giving away. At the same time, listen very carefully to what the other person is saying and closely analyse their expressions and gestures. Another useful tip is to always paraphrase once or twice so that you can make sure that you completely understand what the other person is trying to say.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are the drugs that are prescribed to reduce the symptoms?
In some cases, drugs are prescribed to help ease the anger problems. The type of drug prescribed depends upon the diagnosis and intensity of symptoms experienced by the individual. Options generally include prozac, or other antidepressants, benzodiazepines, lithium or other drugs to help regulate moods.
Q. What are the side effects of medications that are prescribed for anger management issues?
The side effects of such drugs are:
- Dry mouth and increased thirst
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Changes in thinking or cognitive patterns
Q. Is anger bad? Will I ever be able to learn how not to be angry?
Anger on its own isn’t a problem as it is a normal human emotion that you certainly can’t get rid of. However, we need to learn how to manage it and behave in an adaptive way without causing harm to our environment or the people around us. While you will eventually get angry less after the programme, the major (and most important change) will be seen in the way you react when you’re angry and how you deal with the emotion.