Anger is something that everyone in life will experience.
Anger is completely normal, it is usually healthy for human emotions.
However, when it gets out of control it can lead to problems, for example, problems at work, in our personal lives, relationships and overall, to the quality of our lives.
When an angry episode occurs all of the following are involved:
Cognition our present thoughts
Emotion the physiological arousal our anger produces
Communication the way we display our anger to others
The affect of anger on others fear, hostility
Behaviour the way we behave when we are angry
We also (if we are aware of it) feel the results of anger in our own bodies. According to psychologists who specialise in anger management, there are some people that are more angry than others. They usually become angry more easily and more intensely than the average person. There are also some people that do not show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. These people usually withdraw socially and/or become physically ill.
What are the physical signs/symptoms of anger?
Tension or stress begins to build eg. easily frustrated, clenched posture
Breathing rate increases
Blood pressure rises eg. flushed face/neck, veins standing out
What are the effects on our health?
Headaches creates more tension and stress
Arthritis anger produces uric acid in the bloodstream which contributes to the onset of arthritis
Aggravation of existing physical symptoms
Suicide and murder
What are the causes of Anger?
There are a number of causes of anger. One cause might be genetic or physiological. There is evidence that suggests that some children are born with irritable, sensitive and easily angered natures and these signs are present from a very early age. Another cause might be our fast paced and increasingly pressured way of life.
Because anger is often regarded as negative, we are taught that it is all right to express anxiety or depression and all other emotions but not anger. This can result in outbursts from a build up of tension. It may also be a result of frustration from our experiences in life, a disturbed background and/or our lifestyle. People often learn to react with anger from their parents.
Is there a link between anger and mental illness?
The prevalence of anger attacks (defined as irritability, inappropriate anger and rage, frequent outbursts and overreaction to minor annoyances) in patients with depression can be as high as 44%. (http://www.psychiatrist.com/supplenet)Also people with bipolar disorder can have episodes or periods of irritability when hypomanic or manic.
Is there treatment for Anger?
It is potentially dangerous to let it rip with anger as it escalates the anger and aggression and does nothing to help us or the person we are angry with.
There are solutions available to deal with anger. Some options are listed below.
One strategy is to find out what it is that triggers our anger then maybe develop strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.
Another strategy is relaxation, which is very important for our body to relax and breathe deeply. Picture your breath coming up from your gut.
Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase, for example take it easy, and repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
Non-strenuous, slow yoga-like exercises can also relax muscles and bring feelings of calmness.
Cognitive reframing (changing the way we think) can work. Try to replace the exaggerated and overly dramatic angry thoughts with more rational ones, for example, telling yourself Oh well, I know its terrible, its frustrating and its understandable that Im upset but oh well, its not the end of the world and anger is not going to fix anything.
Develop better communication skills. Sometimes angry people tend to jump to and act on conclusions, these are not always very accurate. It is important to have slower discussions with others. Also, think through your responses. Do not say the first thing that comes into your head and think carefully about what you want to say, and at the same time, listen to what the other person is saying.
Changing your environment, for example, sometimes our immediate surroundings give cause for anger. Give yourself a break making sure that you have some personal time scheduled for times in the day that you know are particularly stressful.
Counselling may be needed if you think that your anger is out of control. Psychologists or other licensed mental health professionals can help work with anger by developing a range of techniques for changing thinking and behaviour. This can be surprisingly effective even by just admitting to a problem and being willing to change is a big step in the right direction as frightening as that may be.
Assertiveness training some angry people need to learn to become assertive at a point well before the anger is triggered. The aim of developing assertiveness is for people who do not express themselves well on a daily basis
Goals of Anger Management
Developing better communication skills with the aim of improving relationships
Developing an understanding of what triggers anger
Developing strategies to deal with anger
Developing listening skills
Developing skills like reframing negative thoughts about life situations
Getting help to change your life circumstances
Mental Health Association NSW Inc. Ph: (02) 9816 5688 or 1800 674 200 (outside Sydney Metro) for services in your area.
Make an appointment with your G.P
Contact your local Community Health Centre or Mental Health Team (see Emergency, Health and Help section of the White Pages)
5 Sera Street, Lane Cove NSW 2066
Ph: (02) 9283 3099
Beyond Anger: A Guide for Men: how to free yourself from the grip of anger and get more out of life
By Thomas J. Harbin ISBN: 1569246211 published by Marlow & Co 2000
The angry self; a comprehensive approach to anger management by Miriam M. Gottlieb
Its not personal! A guide to anger management by Alice J. Katz
Anger-free: ten basic steps to mange your anger by W.Doyle
Dealing with anger, self help solutions for men by F.Donovan
More books available online from the anger clinic- www.angerclinic.com.auPO Box 116
DisclaimerThe information provided is to be used for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for seeking professional care in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. Information may be reproduced with an acknowledgement to the Mental Health Association NSW. This, and other fact sheets are available for download from www.mentalhealth.asn.au. This fact sheet was last updated in Spring, 2001.
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