How Anger Management Improves Your Life

Health Risks of Anger, Techniques, and Support

Anger can be described as an intense emotion in response to feelings of opposition or hostility to something or someone. Uncontrolled anger can produce emotional outbursts or aggressive behavior.

Learning how to deal with anger issues through anger management techniques can help you develop the anger management skills necessary for healthy relationships.

This article will discuss uncontrollable anger and its health risks, anger management techniques, coping strategies, treatments, and classes.

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Uncontrollable Anger

We all feel anger at times. In fact, anger can be a beneficial emotion. Anger directed at a person or situation may be accompanied by feelings of antagonism, especially when we think someone has wronged us or a situation has gone wrong.

Anger triggers our “fight-or-flight” response, similar to our body’s response to fear or excitement. The adrenal glands release hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which increase heart rate and blood pressure to prepare our bodies to respond with intensity. 

The fight-or-flight response can be a productive response if it leads to an effective solution, like quick problem-solving, the ability to assert ourselves, or the courage to forgive someone.

However, uncontrollable anger is characterized by episodes of unwarranted rage resulting in unhealthy responses that may include outbursts, fighting, or abuse. Depending on the frequency and severity of outbursts, uncontrolled anger may be reflective of a condition called intermittent explosive disorder.

Signs

People who experience uncontrolled anger may express their anger in different ways; however, typically the response is disproportionate to the situation. Common responses include:

  • Assaulting people or animals
  • Being argumentative
  • Chest tightness
  • Damaging property
  • Getting into fights
  • Heightened energy
  • An increasing sense of tension
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Palpitations
  • Racing thoughts
  • Rage
  • Repression (that manifests as anxiety or depression)
  • Shouting
  • Temper tantrums
  • Threatening others
  • Tremors

Physical Consequences

Uncontrolled anger can have long-term physical consequences, such as a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart attack, skin conditions (like eczema), digestive problems, and headaches.

What Is Anger Management?

Anger management involves identifying the source or triggers for your anger and developing positive coping strategies. Treatment options like cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, and sometimes medication can provide therapeutic solutions to anger that’s out of control.

Stressors related to work, finances, family, or personal health issues are common causes of anger. Many people suffer from uncontrolled anger as a side effect of past abuse or trauma.

Anger management can teach you how to control anger by allowing you to recognize the symptoms such as a racing heart rate, jaw clenching, or the urge to yell or throw things.

Learning how to release anger productively may require you to:

  • Be assertive, not angry: Learn to channel your anger in an assertive way rather than an aggressive way. Practice using “I” statements to express how you feel in the moment so that you can begin problem-solving.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise can boost your mood, increase self-control, and promote relaxation by letting out nervous energy.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: In addition to exercise, try other forms of exercise such as meditation and yoga, which can promote calmness in the short term and help you manage anger in the long term.
  • Take a timeout: It may seem silly, but taking a timeout can be effective for children and adults. A timeout can help you walk away from a situation that might seem difficult to control and allow you space to calm down.
  • Think before you speak: Pause before you act to allow the opportunity to calm down and express your anger rationally.
  • Use humor: Humor can help release tension, improve mood, and allow for a more positive view of the situation that’s causing irritation.

For Children

Children may struggle to understand their feelings, resulting in aggressive behavior such as defiance, disrespect, and temper tantrums. If left unchecked, childhood anger can lead to learning difficulties or barriers to making friends.

Allowing children to talk about their feelings can help them recognize their emotions and respond to them more appropriately.

For Teenagers

Hormone surges during puberty can be responsible for amplified emotions, including anger and mood swings. Unfortunately, many teens lack maturity and coping skills, and they quickly become overwhelmed by their feelings.

Helping teens get in touch with their emotions, and encouraging them to self-reflect and express themselves by talking or through creative outlets (like painting or writing), can lead to more positive outcomes.

For Adults

Anger can be a difficult emotion to define. In adults, uncontrolled anger can represent a pattern that started in childhood or may be brought on by the pressures of adulthood. Sometimes, the person who has uncontrolled anger doesn’t realize its impact on all aspects of life.

Adults with poor anger management skills often struggle in romantic relationships, practice unhealthy behaviors like substance abuse, and have trouble getting ahead at work or even maintaining a job.

Dealing with the root of the problem (uncontrolled anger) can lead to unexpected rewards in multiple areas.

Coping Strategies

Changing your response to anger takes time and effort. Although the process may not happen overnight, studies show that 75% of people who receive anger management therapy see improvements over time.

Here are some proactive steps for dealing with anger.

Short-Term Coping Strategies
  • When something makes you angry, take a deep breath and count to ten before you respond.

  • If you’re upset, close your eyes and visualize a peaceful place.

  • Choose to abstain from drugs and alcohol, especially in stressful situations.

  • When you’ve had a bad day or a negative interaction, go for a walk or jog to work off any negative energy.

  • Listen to music that puts you in a better headspace.

  • Challenge yourself to come up with things you’re grateful for, even when life doesn’t seem to be going your way.

  • Let others know if you need space, and take a break to remove yourself when a situation is triggering your anger.

Long-Term Coping Strategies
  • If you have an ongoing issue with someone, wait to speak with them until you’re calm. Involve a counselor or write out how you feel in a letter if you don’t think you can express your emotions in a controlled manner.

  • Learn to practice forgiveness rather than holding onto negativity and resentment.

  • Seek to build connections with your community through support groups or religious programs.

  • Take up tai chi, yoga, or meditation as a hobby to promote relaxation.

  • Take care of your health and well-being by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and spending time with people who uplift and support you.

  • Meet with a counselor to address issues from your past, such as trauma or abuse.

To manage anger in the short term, equip yourself with the tools necessary for success. Keep a postcard of a peaceful place in your wallet so you can quickly pull it out and visualize yourself there when you need a mental break.

You can also put together a calming and upbeat playlist on your phone that’s available for you to listen to after a heated interaction or upsetting day.

Planning ahead will help you feel prepared and less vulnerable to uncontrolled anger. Try implementing a daily walking habit after work or scheduling social activities that don’t involve drugs and alcohol to help you stick with your commitment.

Come up with a script in advance that you can say to remove yourself from challenging situations, like “I’m not sure how to respond to what you said, but give me some time to think about it.”

Over the long term, regular self-reflection can help you maintain a better handle on anger. Checking in with a therapist on a consistent basis or keeping a journal are a couple of ways to get in touch with your emotions so you can address underlying causes of frustration or resentment.

Place a greater focus on your self-care through healthy lifestyle habits (like group exercise classes or learning to cook nutritious meals) to promote your personal well-being and self-esteem. By keeping yourself well rested and nourished from the inside out, you may start to recognize uncontrolled anger as a waste of energy.

Health Risks

By putting your body in a hyper-stressed state, uncontrolled anger takes a toll on your health. Anger activates the body’s fight-or-flight response through hormonal shifts, including a rise in adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol.

Although these hormones can be beneficial as part of an immediate response to threats, a chronically elevated fight-or-flight response promotes inflammatory conditions like heart disease, digestive problems, and eczema.

Beyond the health effects, anger statistically increases safety risks as well, including the likelihood of dangerous driving and serious car accidents.

Treatments and Classes

If you struggle to manage your anger and need help, your doctor may be able to suggest a mental health professional or a program. Anger management classes or counseling for anger management can happen in a group or one on one. Programs can be brief or last for weeks or months. There are also residential, inpatient options, as well as retreats.

In addition, your doctor may suggest medications such as anti-depressants. Although these medications don’t treat anger specifically, they can help balance chemicals in the brain and support therapy.

Summary

Anger management can help you avoid the negative consequences of uncontrolled anger. It involves identifying triggers for your anger and developing positive coping strategies. In addition to short-term and long-term coping strategies, you can explore treatment options like classes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and support groups.

A Word From Verywell

Uncontrolled anger is a serious problem with real social and physical ramifications. Many people who have anger management issues feel stuck in a cycle of impulsivity and regret.

If you struggle with rage and aggression, there’s help available. Taking the first steps to seek anger management support can significantly improve your quality of life and relationships with loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you control anger in the moment?

Short-term strategies—like taking a deep breath, visualizing a peaceful place, and walking away—can help you remain in control over anger during the heat of the moment.

How do you deal with someone who has anger issues?

Approach the person at the right time (not during an angry episode) and express your concern about their health and well-being. Suggest resources for them, and express support rather than taking an accusatory tone.

Can children learn anger management?

Childhood is the perfect time to learn how to deal with anger. Everyone gets angry, but finding appropriate ways to express their emotions can help set children up for a successful future.

Consider involving a school social worker or your child’s pediatrician for additional guidance and resources. Family counseling may help improve parenting dynamics and teach ways to set boundaries and provide consequences.

Can you have a stroke from anger?

Angry outbursts can have significant physical effects, including an acute spike in stroke risk. Some research suggests that stroke risk triples within the first two hours after an outburst (and heart attack rate increases fivefold). Learning to cope with anger is an essential component of managing heart health.

How do you find anger management classes?

If you have a primary care doctor, ask them for a referral to a therapist or program to deal with anger. You can also search online or talk to your local social services department or police department to find recognized anger management courses available in your state.

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9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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