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It is normal to feel angry from time to time - for example, if someone does not respect your boundaries, or if someone threatens your safety or livelihood. Anger is useful in these situations, because it enables us to act quickly by releasing hormones, such as Adrenalin. Anger can also drive us to assert our needs and rights in relationships. Therefore, anger is a healthy and normal emotion when expressed appropriately in certain situations.
However, anger can become a real problem if it is triggered by minor every day issues, or if it leads to aggression or violence. A difficulty to control anger impacts on your relationships, affects your reputation and self-esteem.
What are the signs and symptoms of Anger Problems?
- Quick to anger and lose your temper. It is common for people with anger problems to be easily triggered and react quickly to minor issues. You may fly off the handle easily, raise your voice or throw objects when you lose your temper.
- Constant feelings of irritability, rage or anxiety. You may even bottle up your angry feelings and find yourself “acting normal”, but feel on the brink of exploding. Or, your anger may seep out in passive aggressive behaviour. For example, you may give loved ones the ‘silent treatment’ or talk in a cold and snappy manner.
- Anger affects us physically. You may find yourself pacing or clenching your fists and jaw. Your heart may pound and your face may feel hot. Some people’s bodies can even start to shake. Muscle tension that causes headaches and other body pain are also common. Anger often leaves people feeling exhausted after all the adrenalin has left their body.
- Do you feel like you constantly have your back up and cannot easily let things go? You may find that you struggle to trust people and their motives. You may feel defensive around others and struggle to accept constructive criticism. Any suggestions made by others may feel like a personal attack. Maybe you have been told by numerous people that you blame everyone around you and rarely take responsibility for your own actions. Or perhaps you replay in your mind, over and over, an event that angers you, and struggle to let it go.
How does an Anger affect me?
- You may feel irritable and edgy. You may feel like you are constantly working overtime to manage overwhelming feelings of frustration, anger or rage, but despite your hard efforts, your feelings eventually bubble over.
- You may find that your relationships are filled with frustration and tension. You may lash out and your loved ones may be fearful of your anger. People may describe being around you as “walking on eggshells” as they fear setting you off. Perhaps your partner has left you, as it became too much or they were frightened by your actions (especially if your anger escalated to aggression and violence).
- Shame and embarrassment. You feel humiliated or sick to your stomach by previous anger outbursts. It might be difficult for you to show your face again at work or at home.
- The effects of chronic anger can put your physical health at risk. For example, you can be more susceptible to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Your immune system may be compromised, causing you to get sick often.
- Difficulties at work. Are you continually feeling tense at work? Perhaps a colleague really annoys you and gets under your skin. This can make it difficult to concentrate and keep up with your work tasks. You may also find that you work hard every day at controlling your temper and remaining professional.
- Unhealthy coping strategies. It is common for people who experience anger problems to numb their distressing feelings with unhelpful ways of coping – for example, you may drink excessively to relax or you may use drugs to escape your emotions.
- Poor ability to think clearly and make good decisions. When our body is in ‘fight and flight’ we typically respond drastically and quickly, as opposed to using our rational, logical part of our brain that helps in decision-making. Therefore, anger can lead to bad decisions that you later regret. For example, you may find yourself doing unsafe things, such as tailgating another driver. Or, perhaps you become physically aggressive towards a stranger. These bad decisions can lead to trouble with the police, jeopardise your job, and impact on the wellbeing of others and yourself.
How can I treat my Anger Problems?
There are a few well-researched treatments that are effective in treating anger problems, including Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT), Psychoeducation and Relaxation Coping Skills.
How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help?
We are experienced and trained in treating psychological difficulties like anger problems. If you are experiencing anger problems and would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.