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Anger

What is Anger?

Anger is a healthy human emotion and everyone gets angry, annoyed, and frustrated sometimes. Anger is the body’s way of saying ‘something’s not quite right here,’ and it provides an opportunity to do something constructive about it like problem-solve.

When anger turns into a strong feeling that might stop us from acting constructively, and perhaps even cause us to act in harmful ways, it can cause problems. When this happens, it can affect relationships, home life, work life, and overall quality of life.

When people feel angry, they often act angrily too. Yelling, throwing things, criticising, slamming doors, storming out, and giving the silent treatment are what people sometimes do when they feel angry. Uncontrolled anger can lead to arguments, aggression, physical fights, physical abuse, assault and self-harm.

Why Do We Get Angry?

We often get angry when we think things should have happened differently. We may have expected a different outcome, or thought a person should have behaved or treated us differently. Anger can also result from misunderstandings or poor communication between people, or worrying about personal or financial problems. Anger can sometimes be masked by other feelings such as guilt, hurt, fright, worry or embarrassment. It’s important to understand that it’s not people or events that make us angry, but our reaction to them.

How Do I Know if My Anger is a Problem?

Anger becomes a problem when it creates trouble with other people, our work, our health, or the law. Some signs that anger is a problem include the following:

  • Yelling, criticizing, name calling.
  • Storming out, giving the cold shoulder or silent treatment.
  • Feeling like our behavior is ‘out of control’ e.g., throwing things, breaking things, hitting, punching, or pushing people.
  • Thinking anger gets the desired results.
  • Using alcohol or drugs to suppress anger.
  • Getting angry with the people closest to us, or with people who are less powerful, rather than dealing with the situation that triggered the anger in the first place.
  • Being told by other people they have concerns about our anger.
  • Anger lasts for a long time, well after the event that triggered it.

What Are the Physical Effects of Anger?

Anger is an emotion that can range from mild annoyance to intense rage. The feeling of anger is accompanied by physical changes in the body. These effects include:

  • Blood pressure and heart-rate rising
  • Hormone levels like adrenaline increasing, causing sweating and shaking
  • Muscle tension, such as teeth-clenching and making fists
  • Headaches, such as tension headaches

Why Should Anger Be Controlled?

Learning to express anger in an assertive way, instead of aggressive, is the healthiest way to express anger. Some people believe that it’s good to ‘let out their anger,’ otherwise it will build up. Researchers have now found that this actually makes anger and aggression worse in the long run. On the other hand, bottling up the anger and not expressing it may not be helpful either. Recurring uncontrolled anger can have negative health effects due to the stress hormones constantly flooding through the body. Some of these side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Digestion problems
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Skin problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Higher chance of heart disease and stroke

When anger is dealt with in an assertive manner, the outcome is that we have increased chances of getting our needs met, we build stronger, closer relationships with people, we reduce our likelihood of heart disease and other health problems, and there is less chance OF getting in trouble with the law.

How is Anger Treated?

There is a good treatment available for anger. The main type is psychotherapy. The treatment used in psychotherapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps people to change the way they think about certain situations, and how they behave. It can cause positive and meaningful changes and quality of life for people who get help.

Taking Action

It’s important to seek help for your anger, and recognize that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Untreated recurring anger can have a damaging effect on your long term health, as well as a negative impact on your relationships, work, and overall quality of life. Taking action is not only good for you, but also good for your loved ones. Chances are, both they and you will have a happier life in short-term and long-term.

Therapy can be a great way to explore the reasons behind your anger. If you don’t know the reasons for your anger, it’s very hard to control. Therapy provides a safe place to identify why you’re getting angry, and to practice new skills in expressing your anger. Getting feedback on techniques for controlling your anger can be very helpful.

We can provide you with the support you need to start getting better. Please contact Mindview Psychology on 03 9016 4285 or 0434 284 516, or email info@mindviewpsychology.com.au