Anger – What is it?

Anger is an emotion we all feel on rare occasions; it’s a typical human reaction to a sudden feeling of pressure or external threat.

We all express it at some point in our lives. It provides us with a way to vent our frustrations in a way that prevents it from building up in a toxic way. It encourages us to protect ourselves and make changes.

Anger is a very physical and verbal emotion. It’s a primitive element of our biology; it comes from our instinctual ‘fight or flight’ reaction to predators. It causes a rush of adrenaline, increasing the heart rate and affecting our mindset for a brief period. But while we feel this infrequently, exploring it more and more in a stressful environment can prove detrimental to physical and mental health.

An Anger Issue – What is it?

Like any emotion, anger is one that can rage out of control, harming others in the process.

An anger issue is one in which it rages against others against your better judgement; potentially harming those around you. This can cause harm to your social and family relationships including long-term damage to your physical and mental health.

Having an uncontrollable temper can leave you feeling like your anger controls you. Comprehending that your anger is running out of control is the first step to finding techniques to reclaim yourself from anger which threatens to control you.

Anger Issues manifest in more ways than just unbridled, visible rage. Sufferers can often hide their rage under the surface. This is called ‘repressed rage’ and can be just as dangerous as those who vent it.

If you feel your anger has boiled over into a rage or violent acts: Seek help immediately. Expressing anger in this way is a sign of possible underlying mental health problems and presents a direct threat to you and others around you.

Anger Issues have links to damaging behaviours such as Domestic Abuse. But it’s vital to understand that there is a difference. While Anger can lead to harming others, it’s not the same as things like domestic abuse. The former is often uncontrollable and inadvertent, while abuse is more calculated and planned. Domestic violence requires more specialist treatment which our team of therapists and counsellors can provide.

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Anger Management – Who needs it and what is it?

Anger itself is usually an outlet that masks a broader problem. But it’s how we express anger that can prove problematic for ourselves and the people around us.

Anger Management is about how to control and manage anger in a productive manner. It allows sufferers to get a better understanding of their condition; from what triggers their anger and how to properly handle and prevent it from leading to overreactions.

It’s not about never feeling Angry. Anger is a useful emotion as previously mentioned, but Anger Management is about how to manage and utilise it in a way that is productive and not harmful to others. Repressing or misusing anger have their own sets of problems long-term.

Anger Management is useful for those struggling to articulate their emotions. It allows for the expression of pent-up feelings we obtain through the pressures of our work and daily lives. It benefits a wide range of people.

How Common is it to suffer from Anger Issues?

Anger Issues of various degrees and intensities are more common than people think. In a survey performed in the UK, One in Ten people suffers from some form of Anger Issue. This includes a quarter of people who expressed concern over how angry they got.

In the US, One in Five people express concerns over Anger Issues, with more than 60% of teenagers encountering problems with their anger.

Anger Issues – The Signs and Symptoms

An Anger problem can manifest in some ways. You may be suffering from anger problems if you show these signs:

  • Your day consistently annoys and irritates you on frequent basis
  • You find yourself getting angry over small and otherwise negligible things
  • Anger can lead to avoidant behaviours around people and places that otherwise anger you
  • Your anger has caused problems at work and home
  • Friends, Spouses and Family have avoided contact with you because of your anger
  • Your mind replays vengeful or angry thoughts towards others
  • You’ve vented anger against inanimate objects, causing personal and property damage as a result
  • Your anger may have placed you in trouble with police
  • You may have engaged in the physical or mental bullying of another person

You may also suffer from a problem with Repressed Anger if:

  • you tend to avoid conflict and others that you see as ‘Overly emotional.’
  • you’re known not to be quick to anger, but when you do experience it, it’s explosive
  • You are quickly irritated and frustrated
  • You may be a possible Workaholic or are busy constantly
  • You may have been accused of being passive-aggressive
  • Repressed Anger can manifest a substance problem (Alcohol, eating, Smoking)
  • You may find your immune system is weak, resulting in constant colds, muscular aches and pains
  • You hide behind apathy, sarcasm or dark humour to shield yourself from others
  • You may suffer from low-grade Depression
  • You may find it hard to say no to new obligations

What Causes Anger Issues in the first place?

Some may find that they are genetically or Physiologically pre-disposed to having an anger problem. There is evidence to suggest that some people are born with irritable personalities. In which case, Anger Management can support them in coping with it long-term.

Commonly, however, Anger Issues are behaviours we learn. As we grow up, we imitate and copy as children the behaviours that we are commonly exposed to. As a result, those exposed to more anger in their formative years are more likely to use it themselves as a management technique when dealing with stress.

Traumatic experiences can trigger episodes of extreme anger. Conditions such as childhood abuse, PTSD, etc. can result in the triggering of extremely angry episodes. These can prove dangerous to the sufferer and those around them.

What happens if Anger Issues go untreated?

Uncontrollable Anger, when left undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to wide-reaching repercussions both for the sufferer and the people around them.

Mental Health – When Anger dominates a persons life, it can lead to them obsessively thinking vengeful and angry thoughts. Everything else, from career aspirations to long-term goals are buried by obsessive anger. This can lead to low self-esteem, an increased likelihood of substance abuse and often Depression that increases in intensity as time goes on.

Physical Health – A constant level of stress and anger can lead to severe damage to the sufferer’s physical health. Symptoms such as High blood pressure, stomachaches and disturbed sleep cycles can cause even further physical problems.

Career – While we all have disagreements in the workplace, Anger has the potential to magnify the intensity of these. This may result in a sufferer of anger issues feeling more isolated in their workplace. Those with high levels of anger can find it difficult to find work due to this.

Relationships – Much like the workplace, disagreements and arguments are inevitable in any relationship. But chronic anger can create a climate of sustained tension and fear, making loved ones feel uncomfortable and unable to trust you. Anger has the genuine danger of destroying relationships and ending marriages.

How are Anger Issues detected?

Speaking to a GP is often the best first step in detecting an Issue with Anger. It will allow you and your GP to assess what its impacts are on your immediate family, friends and co-workers. They will then be able to refer you to a specialist or for further treatment if necessary.

Many are also able to self-diagnose a problem with Anger through any behaviour they believe to be toxic. If you are sure that your behaviour is similar in some way to an overarching anger problem, there are treatments through talking and even group therapy.

Suggested actions for sufferers of an Anger Issue

An experienced GP may recommend you attend an Anger Management Program. These programs aim to provide support for sufferers, providing them with the tools to manage their anger from how it triggers, to preventing it from spiralling out of control.

Regardless of the severity, counselling has proven effective consistently for sufferers of Anger Issues. Having a space free from judgement for a sufferer to get to the roots of their anger is critical. In many instances, Anger is rooted in childhood trauma, requiring this sort of environment to understand it.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a method of treatment is highly effective. This is due to the frequent cases in which Anger coincides with issues with Depression. CBT can, therefore, allow the sufferer to re-frame their mindset and alleviate their issues.

Person-Centred Counselling is also a useful method of treatment. It allows the sufferer to discover the root of their problems in a mutually safe environment.

Medication can also be helpful alongside a broader treatment modality.

What are the psychological conditions related to anger?

Psychological conditions like any of the following are linked to an issue with Anger.

Many people encounter issues with Anger: Including many famous names

Famous names such as Charlie Sheen, Justin Bieber, Alec Baldwin among others have had serious issues with Anger Problems. When utilised productively, Anger can be a highly effective emotion, but knowing how to control and manage it is critical.

Countering Anger Issues – Our Approach

Working to identify emotional triggers for Anger. Anger is a core component of our ‘Fight or Flight’ mechanism and providing the right management tools for countering a move towards your anger ‘red zone’ can prove highly beneficial.

Find out what helps you relax. Outlets that help to ease stress varies depending on the person. Finding out what hobbies and activities help to reduce feelings of stress and anger is highly useful.

Learning instant methods you can use in dire situations. If you ever feel a sudden attack of anger, knowing emergency methods in order to de-escalate feelings of anger can prove highly effective.

Take responsibility for the factors contributing to your anger. Other external factors can contribute to the severity of Anger issues. Owning up to the use of substances and drugs, which may increase the intensity of your anger, is a critical step to recovering and managing anger.

Delve more into the origins of your anger. Anger isn’t just something that explodes out, it’s preceded by a build-up with key factors that contribute to it.

Examining patterns of behaviour can allow you to plan out management techniques. Is the person you’re getting mad at a particular gender or age? Does the surrounding environment annoy you because of something familiar from your past?

Learning Mindfulness can really help. Mindfulness can help teach you awareness of your immediate surroundings and people around you. This can help balance out your mood and manage your anger in a positive way.

Additional Resources

Useful websites

The British Association of Anger Management

MIND Charity’s Anger Guide

The Mental Health Foundation’s Cool Down Guide

NHS Guide to Controlling Anger

Useful phone numbers

Support Line UK 01708 765200

Young Minds Parent Hotline (for parents dealing with angry or violent children or teens) 0808 802 5544

Respect (for perpetrators of domestic violence) 0808 802 4040

England National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 200 0247

Scotland Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 027 1234

Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 801 0800

Northern Ireland Domestic Violence Helpline 0800 917 1414

Counselling and Therapeutic Services

The NHS- seeing your GP and asking for a referral to see an anger management specialist. Local charities or organisations such as Mind UK may provide support groups, therapy and advice in your local or nearby area. You can also try calling your local council to see what is offered in your area.

Private counselling and psychotherapy clinics such as ourselves can help you through access to our specialist team of Counsellors and Therapists.

For more information call 0753 718 1090 or email help@online-therapy.company. To book a Virtual Therapy appointment with the Online Therapy Company, please fill in the online booking form.

Author – Dr Aisha Ali – DPsych Couns Psych, ADOS 2 Certified B.Psych (Hons)

Dr Aisha Ali is a highly experienced BPS Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Expert witness with over 15 years experience of working within the NHS in complex care and private practice. She has extensive experience of working with individuals, couples and families presenting with complex psychological and emotional issues. Aisha provides life and performance coaching.

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