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What are the signs and symptoms of anger management problems?

Feelings of anger or violent acting out can be related to many different underlying difficulties including depression, anxiety, addictions and other mental health problems. Many individuals can have underlying difficulties with severe low self-esteem, as well as problems with mistrust. Some people may also have a history of past physical, sexual or emotional abuse. There may be many interlocking features that have led someone to develop anger management difficulties.

While it’s important that anger, amongst other emotions, doesn’t get bottled up, maintaining control over your anger is crucial to maintaining calm, and ensures that outward expressions of anger don’t negatively impact your relationships. The emotion of anger is entirely natural, and it is usual to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged. Whether these responses result in angry outbursts, comes down to how you deal with it; first and foremost, anger becomes dangerous when it causes harm to you or others. Anger management difficulties can lead to loss of a job, broken relationships and criminal convictions.

Look out for the following patterns of behaviour

If you are concerned that you or someone that you know may have anger management difficulties, you should look for the following patterns of behaviour:

  • Becoming especially angry or violent when consuming alcohol
  • Struggling to compromise or arrive easily at mutual agreements without getting angry
  • Problems with expressing emotions in a calm and healthy way
  • Ignoring people or refusing to speak to them
  • Inward aggression that can lead to isolation or self-harm
  • Outward aggression including shouting, swearing, or being physically violent and threatening
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Cycles of bad behaviour which may be affecting relationships

If you struggle to control your anger then you may often misunderstand constructive criticism as a challenge to your authority or capability, and this can then trigger confrontational behaviour. Over generalising, for example stating: “You’re never there for me” is quite a common behaviour if you or someone that you know is struggling with controlling anger. Obsessing about how things ‘should’ be and predicting or jumping to conclusions about others’ behaviour is also something that should be taken into consideration, as well as blaming others for negative situations when problems arise that may not be their fault.

Treatment for anger management

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 everyone's situation is 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 0800 840 3219 or enquire online.

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Leon Rozewicz (MBBS, FRCPsych, MRCGP, MRCPsych) in August 2020.

Do I have an anger problem?
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