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Health & Balance

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Anger, Hostility, and Violent Behavior - Topic Overview

Anger signals your body to prepare for a fight. This reaction is commonly classified as "fight or flight." When you get angry, adrenaline and other hormones are released into the bloodstream. Then your blood pressure goes up, your heart beats faster, and you breathe faster.

Many people mistakenly believe that anger is always a bad emotion and that expressing anger is not okay. In reality, anger can be a normal response to everyday events. It is the right response to any situation that is a real threat. Anger can be a positive driving force behind our actions. Anger can also be a symptom of something else, depending on how often a person feels angry and how angry the person feels.

Hostility is being ready for a fight all the time. Hostile people are often stubborn, impatient, hotheaded, or have an "attitude." They are frequently in fights or may say they feel like hitting something or someone. Hostility isolates you from other people.

Anger and constant hostility keep your blood pressure high and increase your chances of having another health problem, such as depression, heart attack, or a stroke.

Teens who say they often feel angry and hostile also more often feel anxious, stressed, sad, and fatigued. They have more problems with alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, and eating disorders than teens who do not have high levels of anger.

Violent behavior often begins with verbal threats or relatively minor incidents, but over time it can involve physical harm. Violent behavior is very damaging, both physically and emotionally. Violent behavior can include physical, verbal, or sexual abuse of an intimate partner (domestic violence), a child (child abuse), or an older adult (elder abuse).

Violence causes more injury and death in children, teenagers, and young adults than infectious disease, cancer, or birth defects. Murder, suicide, and violent injury are the leading causes of death in children. Violence with guns is one of the leading causes of death of children and teenagers in the United States.

If you are angry or hostile or if you have violent behavior, it is important to find help. You can learn ways to control your feelings and actions.

Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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