Intense Anger: Everything You Need to Know

Anger is a normal human emotion felt at various points throughout life. Intense anger happens when the level of emotion is closer to fury or rage than it is to mild irritation. Intense anger can result in aggression, often hostile behavior with an intent to harm.

Intense anger can become a problem when it leads to aggression toward others or is suppressed and has adverse physical and psychological effects.

Learn about intense anger, its possible causes and symptoms, what to do about it, and more.

Woman with intense anger shouting.

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Many situations, including everyday interactions, life events, or internal struggles, can elicit an anger response, and what triggers one person may not trigger another. Similarly, the level of emotion felt will vary from person to person, causing some to feel mildly angry and others to feel intense anger from the same or similar trigger.


Angry outbursts can be a symptom or warning sign of stress. Even if there is another underlying cause of anger, stress can make the anger more intense or frequent. Moreover, the connection between anger and stress goes both ways. Anger has been shown to increase stress levels, and stress levels can increase the risk of intense anger.


Like the relationship between stress and anger, depression and anger are connected. Excessive, uncontrolled anger can be a symptom of depression and can lead to or make depression worse. More specifically, holding anger in without expressing it can lead to self-directed anger, which may lead to depression.

It is important to seek help from a healthcare professional if depression is suspected or if there are frequent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in daily activities, or thoughts of harm to self or others.

If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one is in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that involves repeated distressing thoughts and ritualistic compulsive behaviors. About 50% of people with OCD also experience anger attacks, and many act aggressively toward family members.

This can lead to physical harm, emotional harm, or both. Additionally, people who experience OCD and anger attacks are at an increased risk of depression and panic attacks.

Alcohol Abuse

Anger and aggression issues are more common among people with alcohol use disorder (AUD), a condition involving the overuse or misuse of alcohol. Drinking can trigger or intensify anger, while anger can lead people with AUD to drink more to cope with their feelings.

Substance Use/Addiction

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavior disorder that involves difficulty paying attention, planning, and organizing. Some people with ADHD tend to become frustrated more easily than others and are more prone to becoming angry.

Roughly 70% of adults with ADHD feel they face strong, quick changes in mood or have difficulty regulating their emotions.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a mood disorder that involves fluctuations between extremely high mood or energy and depression. Symptoms of this condition can include irritability and anger.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Intermittent explosive disorder is a mental health condition that involves difficulty controlling the urge to be aggressive. People with intermittent explosive disorder display these two types of aggression:

  • Reactive or hostile aggression: Involves a reaction to anger or aggression
  • Instrumental or premeditated aggression: Meant to agitate someone else

People with this condition become physically or verbally aggressive and may cause emotional or physical harm to other people or material items.


Anger is one of the five stages of grief. This means it is normal and expected for a loss, such as death or trauma, to elicit anger. If there is a loss of control, if anger interferes with work or daily life, or if it compels you to harm yourself or others, it is essential to seek support from a mental health provider.


When people become angry, the body releases chemicals, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. This leads to certain physical and mental symptoms, such as increased blood pressure, stress, or anxiety.


Physical signs of intense anger include:

  • Yelling or shouting
  • Becoming physically aggressive toward people, animals, or objects
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Outbursts that are disproportionately intense for the situation


Emotional signs of intense anger include:

  • Feeling out of control or frightened about behaviors when angry
  • High levels of stress, agitation, or anxiety
  • Thoughts of aggression, violence, or revenge
  • Holding a grudge

Types of Anger Issues

Different types of anger issues can be short term—perhaps associated with a life transition or phase—or longer term. For example, intense anger from loss or trauma may go away as you heal from the experience. Alternatively, intense anger accompanying mental health conditions may last years or for life.

Types of anger issues that are symptoms of mental health conditions include:


Intense anger alone is not a diagnosable condition. However, intense anger can be a symptom of a diagnosable health condition. A mental health provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can diagnose these conditions.

Anger Management

Utilizing anger management strategies can help you when you feel intense anger arise.

Anger management techniques include:

  • Avoiding anger triggers or moving away from the source of your anger
  • Using breathing or visualization exercises for relaxation
  • Practicing cognitive restructuring (noticing and changing negative and irrational thoughts)
  • Communicating about your anger
  • Using mantras or words linked to relaxation

When to See a Therapist

Anyone who feels overwhelmed, out of control, or like they may benefit from learning how to better manage their anger should seek help from a mental health provider. Seeking help early is key to preventing anger from escalating to aggression or causing physical or emotional harm to yourself or others.


Intense anger is a stronger, more extreme version of anger. While anger is a normal emotion to feel from time to time, intense anger can lead to aggressive behaviors and physical or emotional harm to yourself or others.

Possible causes of intense anger include life events, stress, depression, grief, or other mental health conditions. Symptoms include loss of control, yelling, and/or physical violence. It is possible to learn different techniques to manage your anger. Anyone who experiences frequent, strong or uncontrollable anger should reach out to a healthcare provider for support.

A Word From Verywell

Feeling angry can be overwhelming, both for you and those around you. If you feel intense anger, a loss of control, or like you may harm yourself or others, reach out to a healthcare provider for help. You can learn to manage your anger and live a healthier life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are anger issues a mental disorder?

    Anger issues are not classified as a mental health disorder. However, intense anger and challenges with managing anger can be caused by a mental health disorder. Additionally, holding in or suppressing anger can lead to mental health issues.

  • What are signs of anger issues?

    There are many signs of anger issues; the most obvious may be causing harm to others, either physically or emotionally. Other signs include regret over things said or done out of anger, loss of control, or feeling angry often.

  • How do I stop being so angry?

    The best ways to stop being so angry depend on the individual. Some anger management techniques include walking or exercising, practicing breath work (conscious and controlled breathing) or visualization activities, or working with a mental health provider on cognitive restructuring (noticing and changing negative and irrational thoughts) or progressive desensitization (controlling the steps involved in getting angry). Identifying and addressing any possible underlying causes, such as mental health conditions, is also important.

22 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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By Ashley Olivine, Ph.D., MPH
Dr. Ashley Olivine is a health psychologist and public health professional with over a decade of experience serving clients in the clinical setting and private practice. She has also researched a wide variety psychology and public health topics such as the management of health risk factors, chronic illness, maternal and child wellbeing, and child development.