How To Manage Anger Problems: 8 Options You Have
Anger can be a common thing to experience when frustration meets stress or disappointment. Some days can be easier to handle than others.
Learning anger management skills through anger management counseling can help you handle your anger in more constructive ways.
Defining Anger And Anger Issues
For most, anger can be a feeling of severe irritation or frustration that can be downright unnerving. Your blood pressure and heart rate typically increase in the body, and stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol can impact your serotonin levels.
In some cases, anger can become a problem when handled poorly, especially anger in relationships.
A 2016 study estimated that 7.8% of the US population experiences difficulties managing their anger.
Some questions you can ask yourself:
- Do small things ignite anger in you?
- Do you find yourself having frequent or uncontrollable angry outbursts?
- Have you ever hit someone or thrown something in response to uncontrolled anger?
Anger can be caused by a litany of things outside of your control. For some people, anger can even be genetic. But it is often exacerbated by the environment.
The causes of anger can come from a wide range of things. Maybe it is a scratch on your car, a friend canceling plans at the last minute, financial issues, family strife, a personal loss, heartbreak, or a traumatic event.
Anger can even be a natural response to hormonal shifts. For example, many people may experience anger during menopause in otherwise uncharacteristic ways. Hormonal imbalance in both men and women can be a frequent culprit of issues related to anger.
Perhaps you know the feeling. Your jaw may tighten, your stomach might ache, and maybe you get hot or feel your blood pressure rise rapidly. Anger is a normal emotion that we can easily recall. But the bodily response to anger symptoms can feel frightening or stressful. Depending on the intensity of the anger, the buildup of tension can be overwhelming.
Issues that are anger-based can lead directly to health risks. Cardiovascular problems can appear in those experiencing anger problems. Stress can be hard on the body, and especially long-term chronic anger can manifest itself in many harmful ways. A study published in 2010 pointed out that some health risks of anger can include:
- Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
- Bulimic Behavior
- Road Rage
- Adolescent Hostility
The study concluded by suggesting that while other treatment options for anger are available, psychological assistance should also be encouraged to ensure the best quality of anger management options, which we will cover later on.
Harvard Medicine Magazine cited a study that compared the neurological response to anger in individuals without depression and anger in individuals with a history of depression. In the brains of both groups, the amygdala was active. But for people without other mental health concerns, that is where the response stopped. In people with a history of depression and explosive anger, part of the orbital frontal cortex, used for decision-making, did not stop the brain from acting on the emotion.
Undiagnosed depression can be masked as anger. Depression can manifest itself in different ways for different people. Anger symptoms can include erratic behavior, but symptoms of depression can include unidentified irritability, so it is common to mistake one for the other. This can be otherwise identified as anger turned inward.
While anger can increase mental and physical health issues, the combination of anger and aggression can also be a big problem for the safety of yourself and those around you. How you manage your anger matters.
What are the different types of anger?
- Outward Anger: If someone told you to “act angry,” you would probably yell, punch, or break something to express your anger outwardly. It can be a form of volatile anger, which we mostly expect from people who deal with anger, but it is not the only form of an anger management problem.
- Inward Anger: Have you ever heard of the “inner critic?” Sometimes this is what we call the voice inside your head telling you that you did something wrong. When reflecting on a mistake, instead of offering constructive feedback, your inner voice may ask you, “How stupid can you be?” This is a primary example of what it can be like to experience anger problems inwardly. It might not be as destructive to those around you, but it can be highly self-destructive.
- Passive Anger: “Passive aggression” and “micro-aggression” commonly describe passive anger. It is the subtle indication that you are very unhappy with the way something has happened or dissatisfied with what someone has said. Though people who experience passive anger feel angry, it might not show on their faces.
8 Options For Managing Your Anger
- Take 5 seconds to think before you speak. This may be easier said than done, especially when you feel you have been wronged, but it can be a great way to keep your anger in check.
- Quantify your anger. Doctors might ask you to rate your pain on a scale of one to ten. Try the same method with your anger. Are you showing aggressive anger symptoms? To what degree might you need to go to get the situation under control?
- Talk to a confidant.
- Express your anger in healthier ways. Exercise can release a lot of bodily tension and release endorphins, causing the brain to experience a positive feeling. This can be especially helpful for adolescents experiencing hostility.
- Being told to “calm down” can have the opposite effect on a person with issues related to anger. With that being said, deep breathing and meditation can have positive long-term effects on your mental health. The road to mindfulness can be tedious, but it can also be beneficial to nipping anger symptoms in the bud.
- Do not keep it bottled up. Although outward or explosive anger is not the goal, we have established that inward anger can be self-destructive. Spot your symptoms of anger, and make sure it has a healthy outlet.
- Know yourself. What is that outlet? What brings you peace? Making art? Watching comedy? Listening to music? Shooting a basketball? Reading? Cooking? Journaling? Find out what you can turn to when all else fails.
- Anger Management Classes. Managing your anger alone can be daunting. But there are hundreds of classes available to people looking to do just that. Individual therapy, like anger management therapy or group classes, can be great ways to develop insight and explore solutions with professionals depending on personal preference.
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