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Signs of Anger Issues

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 23, 2020

What Are Anger Issues?

Anger is a normal human reaction and can be effective and beneficial in certain situations, like responding to threats of injury or harm to yourself or others. Not being able to control anger, however, can turn destructive and cause problems in your life, as well as negatively affect personal and professional relationships.

Anger does not only affect your external relationships, it can also have negative effects on your health. Studies have shown that not being able to control your anger can lead to cardiovascular diseases, bulimia (a life-threatening eating disorder), diabetes, and road accidents. It is therefore important that psychological and medicinal treatments be considered when helping people deal with anger management issues.

There are many internal and external factors that lead to anger. Some internal factors can include mental instability, depression, or alcoholism. While external factors can include situations that cause stress or anxiety, financial or professional issues, or family and relationship problems.

Types of Anger Issues

Anger can be shown in several different ways and to differing degrees of intensity:

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Inward Anger

This type of anger is directed internally and can include dark and depressing thoughts and negative self-talk. Punishing yourself is usually associated with inward anger, like denying yourself things you enjoy doing, like watching television or working out. It can even mean denying yourself basic needs like food and water.

Outward Anger

This involves expressing your anger verbally or physically toward other people and things. It can include breaking things and attacking other people, as well as shouting and cursing.     

Passive Anger

Also known as passive-aggressive behavior, this can include actions like being sarcastic or degrading toward others, giving others the silent treatment, and sulking.

Signs of Anger Issues

While some amount of anger is normal and healthy, it can be dangerous to develop issues with managing anger. Notice how you experience anger and seek help if necessary. You may be experiencing issues with anger management if you:

  • Are hurting others either verbally or physically
  • Always find yourself feeling angry
  • Feel that your anger is out of control
  • Frequently regret something you’ve said or done when angry
  • Notice that small or petty things make you angry

Dealing with Anger Issues

There are several ways that you can deal with anger management. Some of them you can do on your own, while others can include the help of friends, family, or mental health professionals. Strategies for managing your anger issues include:

Think Before Speaking

Anger frequently rises in the heat of the moment. It is easy to say or do the first thing that comes to mind. Take a few moments, however, to take a deep breath and think about the situation and what you should say or do. Encourage others in the situation to do the same.

Express Your Anger in a Constructive Way

Once you’ve taken a moment to calm down and can think clearly, try to express your feelings in an assertive but non-confrontational way. You can state the concerns and frustrations you have clearly and directly without hurting the other people involved. 

Identify Potential Solutions

A lot of what drives anger is focusing on the problem in a situation. Try instead to direct your efforts to resolve whatever it is that is causing your anger. It is helpful to remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and it might actually make it worse.

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Stick With 'I' Statements

Anger drives people to find others to blame, which naturally leads to finger-pointing. A constructive way to address a situation that is causing you anger is to frame it as an ‘I’ statement. For example, "I'm upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes" instead of "You never do any housework".

Let Go of Grudges

Being able to forgive can dramatically decrease feelings of anger and lead to finding a solution to a problem. Forgiveness is a powerful tool and can be used effectively to deal with anger issues. 

Use Humor

Injecting a little humor into a tense situation can go a long way in lowering the intensity of the moment. It can even shed light on the situation, and you might realize it’s not that terrible. Be careful not to use sarcasm, however, as that can hurt others’ feelings and make things worse. 

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Take a Timeout

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Sometimes the best solution is to take a step back and walk away for a few moments. This not only helps to ease the tension of a tough situation, it allows you to catch your breath, organize your thoughts, and gain your composure. This can also be useful if you are by yourself and the thoughts in your head are starting to make you angry. Close your eyes and take a deep breath and think of something pleasant that you like and enjoy.

Be Physically Active

Physical activity has been shown to have positive effects on a person’s ability to control and manage anger by releasing powerful endorphins that relieve stress. If you feel anger building up inside you, going for a run or to the gym can help release those angry thoughts and feelings.

Know When to Ask for Help

Understand that you do not have to deal with your anger by yourself. Seek professional help from a trained psychiatrist or psychologist for anger issues if you believe it is out of control.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

ACTA Scientific Medical Sciences: “Exercise and its Impact on Anger Management.”

American Psychological Association: “Controlling anger before it controls you.”

Hormones and Behavior: “What happens when we get angry? Hormonal, cardiovascular and asymmetrical brain responses.”

Journal of Medicine and Life: “Anger and health risk behaviors.”

Mayo Clinic: “Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper.”

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