This page was clinically reviewed by Willis Atherley-Bourne (BA, MA), Integrative Psychotherapist in 2022.
Anger is an entirely natural emotion, and it is usual to feel angry when you have experienced injustice. However, whether this injustice results in angry outbursts, comes down to how you deal with it. Anger becomes dangerous when it causes harm to you or others. Anger management difficulties can lead to the loss of relationships, opportunities such as jobs and education etc., and may also lead to loss of liberty i.e. criminal convictions.
While it’s important that anger doesn’t get bottled up, maintaining control over your anger is important as the consequences can be severe and can potentially lead to contact with the criminal justice system via the police. Being able to remain calm offers an opportunity for the negative impacts of anger to be reduced and not affect your relationships, crucial to maintaining calm, and ensures that outward expressions of anger don’t negatively impact your relationships. Sometimes maintaining this calm can be achieved by anger management therapy and classes, where a specialist can teach coping methods to manage feelings of anger.
Do I have anger issues?
While everyone gets angry at certain points in their lives, it is important to know the difference between occasionally becoming frustrated or angry at home or work. Knowing the difference between frequently feeling your emotions boil over to the point where they are impacting your relationships with family members or colleagues, and even affecting them mentally or physically, is an important distinction.
If you feel as though some of the below incidents apply to you on a regular basis, you may have an anger problem:
- Punching/breaking objects such as walls or plates to feel a sense of release
- Reacting quickly and violently to small problems, e.g. becoming angry when somebody bumps into you
- Accusing friends and relatives of disrespecting you or of going behind your back
- Finding it difficult to calm the feeling of anger without feeling the urge to express it through displays of anger
- Consistently having the same arguments with friends, relatives or colleagues
- Feeling frustrated with your actions during an argument or regretting them instantly after the event
- Struggling to compromise or arrive at mutual agreements without angry
- Becoming angry or violent during or after consuming alcohol
- Unable to accept feedback and assuming it is a critical reflection
- Automatically blaming others for negative situations
- Inward aggression that can lead to isolation or self-harm
- Wanting to control the outcome of situations without compromise
- Phyiscal symptoms such as headaches, heart palpitations, sweating and anxious feelings
Any combination of the above behaviours, which may be affecting relationships or safety, can be indicators of anger management difficulties.
What causes anger issues?
Anger can have a wide range of trigger points which can differ from person to person. Some of the common causes of anger problems can include:
- Being threatened or treated unfairly
- Being publicly humiliated or having your self-esteem or confidence undermined in public
- Personal problems such as financial problems or stress at work
- Past experiences
- Bereavement and grief
- Existing mental health conditions
Whatever the cause of your anger, it's important that individuals exercise control and management before their anger becomes a bigger problem.
When you are expressing feelings of anger, whether outwardly or inwardly, it can seem as though the people and places around you are triggers of your anger. It's actually how you interpret these situations in your mind and the thinking patterns immediately afterwards which control the level of anger you feel and your response.
Some of the negative thinking patterns which can trigger symptoms of anger problems include:
Taking a perceived negative situation and overgeneralising can bring about excessive feelings of anger, such as saying or thinking that everyone disrespects you all the time after one particular event where you felt disrespected, which is likely to be far from the truth.
Rigid world view
This involves not wanting to deviate from your own ideas on the way things ‘should’ and 'shouldn’t' be. For example, if someone at work challenged your ideas on a particularly project and you disagreed, it can be important to take a moment to calm your mind and take alternative opinions on board.
Jumping to conclusions
Assuming that you can anticipate the thoughts and feelings of others, which may lead you to jump to conclusions about why someone has intended to upset you or ignore your requests, without hearing their verbal explanations.
Letting small annoyances or frustrations build up over time and looking for something to be upset about while overlooking positive aspects of your life can cause feelings of anger to increase and even boil over, so it’s important to address such concerns in different ways before they get on top of you.
While it can be difficult to look to yourself for blame in any given situation, taking responsibility for your own actions and consequences can greatly reduce feelings of anger misplaced towards others when it wasn’t directly their fault.
Prexisting mental health conditions
Anger can be a symptom of both anxiety and depression, as well as other mental health conditions. Anxiety can make someone angry as it can trigger our natural 'fight or flight' instinct, and as a result, someone may start acting out towards those around them as a way of protecting themselves. Whereas someone with depression may already see the world with a negative bias, ultimately leading to them feeling angry towards those around them. Anger in depression can present itself in different ways, with someone lashing out at others around them or hurting themsleves.
Treatment for anger issues
With anger management, each case requires careful evaluation and assessment. Underlying mental health difficulties need to be identified and treated, whilst interpersonal difficulties may need to be addressed and alcohol or substance use will need to be tackled.
Priory has been supporting people with anger issues for many years. We know that personal situations are different, which is why we ensure that everyone has a unique therapy plan tailored to their needs. For further information on how Priory can help you to control your anger and set up a bespoke anger management treatment plan specific to your needs, call us today on 0330 056 6020 or enquire online.
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