A Guide to Anger Issues

Medically Reviewed By Kendra Kubala, PsyD
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Anger is a natural emotion and response to threatening situations. However, it becomes an issue when you find it difficult to control, affecting your life and relationships. This article explains the causes of anger issues. It also covers the signs and symptoms and types of anger issues. Finally, it goes over the treatment of anger issues and tips for managing your anger.

What causes anger issues?

A person's screaming reflection in a shattered mirror
Ulas&Merve/Stocksy United

Anger is a natural human emotion. It can typically range from slight irritation to intense rage. However, uncontrolled anger can lead to issues physically and mentally. It can also impact your daily life and relationships.

A study from 2010 shows that uncontrolled anger can negatively affect your physical and mental health. It also shows that uncontrolled anger can quickly turn to verbal or physical abuse that can be harmful to yourself or others.

Anger can be triggered in various ways. These can include:

  • situations you believe are unfair
  • the belief that someone has wronged you
  • the belief that someone has humiliated you or put your social status at risk

While anger is not a mental health condition, it is a possible symptom of certain mental health conditions. These conditions include:

Changes in personality, like unexplained anger, can also be the result of physical issues like a brain tumor. If you experience sudden and unexplained changes in your personality, contact your doctor so they can rule out physical issues as the cause.

What are the signs and symptoms of anger issues?

Anger is not necessarily always a “bad” thing. It can help you identify issues or situations that may harm you, motivate you, and keep you safe. Anger can become an issue if it becomes uncontrolled, causing harm to you or those around you.

Signs that anger may be becoming an issue include:

  • your anger is beginning to have a negative impact on your overall physical and mental health
  • anger is becoming your standard emotion, blocking you from experiencing other emotions
  • you have difficulty developing proper ways to express your anger
  • you regularly express your anger in ways that may be unhelpful or destructive

Anger can cause you to experience many different symptoms. These symptoms can affect how you feel physically and mentally. They can also cause changes to your behavior.

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms of anger include:

  • increased heart rate
  • tensed muscles
  • clenched fists
  • tightness in your chest
  • feeling hot

Mental symptoms

Mental symptoms of anger include:

  • feeling tense or nervous
  • having the inability to relax
  • being easily irritated
  • feeling humiliated
  • feeling resentful toward others

Behavioral changes

The changes in behavior that anger can cause include:

  • shouting
  • sulking or ignoring other people
  • fighting
  • breaking things
  • self-harming

Contact your doctor or mental health professional if anger is an issue.

Read about 8 signs of anger issues.

What are the types of anger issues?

Anger can manifest itself in many ways. Not everyone will experience anger the same way. Anger can be outward, inward, and passive.

  • Outward anger: This involves shouting, slamming doors, hitting or throwing things, and being verbally or physically abusive or threatening toward others.
  • Inward anger: This involves taking your anger and aggression out on yourself. This can include denying yourself basic needs, cutting yourself off from the world, and self-harming.
  • Passive anger: This involves not saying anything necessarily angry or explicitly aggressive but doing so in a sarcastic manner. Passive aggression or anger can also include refusing to speak to someone, ignoring someone, or refusing to do a task properly or on time.

These types of anger can be considered unhelpful ways of expressing your anger. They may also be signs of developing anger issues.

How are anger issues treated?

Treatment for anger issues may depend on whether there is an underlying condition causing your anger. If there is, your doctor or mental health professional will most likely treat the underlying issue to help you manage your anger.

If anger issues are not due to an underlying condition, there are still treatment options. These include:

  • individual, group, or online anger management training or therapy
  • counseling
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • assertiveness training
  • conflict resolution training
  • relaxation skills training

Anger management training is not designed to dismiss your anger. Instead, its goal is to help you develop the skills to manage your anger more productively.

How can you manage your anger?

It can take time to modify how you express anger. However, there are ways you can help to manage your anger. These may even prevent your anger from becoming an issue if you try them early on.

Tips to help manage your anger include:

  • Keep a diary of any outbursts. This can help you identify the triggers of your anger.
  • Learn relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Take steps to try to recognize when you start to feel angry, so you can try to calm down as early as possible.
  • Give yourself time before reacting. Try counting to 10 or doing breathing exercises.
  • Talk with someone about what is making you angry. Be open with those closest to you.
  • Do not focus on things you cannot change. Instead, focus your energy on helping yourself to feel better.
  • Try not to use drugs, alcohol, or gambling to deal with your anger. This can contribute to mental health issues later on.
  • Do not try to take on everything at once. Set yourself small goals you can focus on and more easily achieve.

If you still feel that your anger is becoming an issue, speak with your doctor or mental health professional.

Read more about how to calm down.

Summary

Anger is a natural human emotion. However, when anger is uncontrolled, it can become an issue. It can cause issues with your overall physical and mental health and daily life.

Signs of anger issues include regularly expressing your anger in unhelpful or destructive ways and anger being your standard emotion.

You can manage anger by getting regular exercise and learning relaxation techniques. However, if you still feel your anger may be becoming an issue, contact your doctor or mental health professional. There are therapies and training to help you manage and overcome anger issues.

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Medical Reviewer: Kendra Kubala, PsyD
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 17
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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