Signs of anger issues

Here, we outline some of the symptoms of an anger problem and what may cause anger issues.

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This page was clinically reviewed by Natasha Hussain (BA, BACP), Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at Priory Hospital Barnt Green, in March 2024. 

Anger is an entirely natural emotion, and it's normal to feel angry when you've experienced injustice. However, whether or not 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 and opportunities such as jobs and education, and may also lead to loss of liberty, for example, as a result of criminal convictions.

While it’s important that you don't bottle up your anger, 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 is crucial in order to reduce the negative impact of anger and ensure 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 you coping methods to manage feelings of anger.

Do I have anger issues?

While everyone gets angry at certain points in their lives, it's important to know the difference between occasionally becoming frustrated, and frequently feeling your emotions boil over to the point where they're impacting your relationships with family members or colleagues, and even affecting them mentally or physically.

Common symptoms of anger management issues

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, for example, 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 getting angry
  • Becoming angry or violent during or after consuming alcohol
  • Being unable to accept feedback and assuming it's 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
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, heart palpitations, sweating and anxiety

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 triggers, 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
  • Trauma/abuse
  • Bereavement and grief
  • Existing mental health conditions

Whatever the cause of your anger, it's important that people learn to exercise control before their anger becomes a bigger problem.

When you're 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 that control the level of anger you feel and your response.

Some of the negative thinking patterns that can trigger symptoms of anger problems include:


Taking a perceived negative situation and overgeneralising can bring about excessive feelings of anger. For example, you might believe 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 particular 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.

Minor irritations

Letting small annoyances or frustrations build up over time, while overlooking positive aspects of your life, can cause feelings of anger to increase. That's why it’s important to address such concerns in different ways before they get on top of you.

Blaming others

While it can be difficult to look to yourself for blame in any given situation, taking responsibility for your own actions can greatly reduce feelings of anger misplaced towards others when it wasn’t directly their fault.

Pre-existing 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 themselves.

Treatment for anger issues

With anger management, each case requires careful evaluation and assessment. Underlying mental health difficulties need to be identified and treated, while 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.

Contact us to make an enquiry or for more information

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