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Men's Health

Anger Control for Men

Why we get angry — And why uncontrolled anger is a serious health threat
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Basically, your body is gearing up for intense physical activity. This is the “fight” part of the “fight or flight” response. If we’re exposed to something stressful, our bodies get ready to do battle or run away.

Spielberger says that anger is common because it has an evolutionary advantage. “Anger isn’t just a human emotion,” he says. “Fear and rage are common to animals too. They developed over eons to help creatures fight and survive.”

Don’t have a coronary, dude! Health risks of uncontrolled anger

The problem is that, nowadays, your body’s full-blooded physical response to anger isn’t always so useful. It might have come in handy when our ancestors were trying to club a cave bear to death. But it really doesn’t help much when you’re standing in a line at the DMV.

In fact, uncontrolled anger is worse than useless: It’s bad for you. Several studies have found a link between anger and disease. For instance, a large study of almost 13,000 people found that those who had high levels of anger — but normal blood pressure — were more likely to develop coronary artery disease or have a heart attack. The angriest were three times as likely to have a heart attack as the least angry.

So how does anger turn into disease? Your body’s physical reaction to anger is intended for the short-term — it gives you the immediate boost you need to survive. But if this explosion of hormones is triggered too often, you can suffer long-term effects. Anger’s stress hormones may contribute to arteriosclerosis, the build-up of plaques in the arteries that can cause heart attacks and strokes. These hormones may also increase levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which causes inflammation and may also contribute to cardiovascular risk. One 2004 study in Psychosomatic Medicine found that people prone to anger had levels of CRP twice or three times as high as others. Anger can even cause electrical disturbances in the heart rhythm.

Anger has also been linked with depression. People who report being frequently angry are less likely to take care of themselves. They’re more likely to smoke, drink to excess, and eat badly, and they’re less likely to exercise. While it’s hard to say that in these cases anger is the cause, it’s certainly linked with a lot of unhealthy behaviors. Anger can also be an expression of feelings of helplessness or depression.

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