Definition & Overview

Anger is a normal and healthy emotion that can spin out of control. Frequently losing control of this emotion can negatively affect your physical and mental health. It can also result in physical and emotional harm to other people, especially those who are close to you.

Anger management is about learning how to deal with the emotion by identifying the thought patterns that can make you lose your cool, and taking specific steps to prevent the situation from spinning out of control. For instance, negative tendencies, such as always wanting to place blame, over-generalizing, and obsessing on what should have or could have happened contribute to the build up of anger. These tendencies create a situation where other people can also respond negatively and if you have anger management problems, the situation will likely get out of control.

Losing your temper occasionally is not a sign of an anger management problem. Psychologists look at behavioral patterns and the physical and emotional symptoms to determine a type of anger disorder. Some of the most common forms of anger disorders are:

  • Chronic Anger
  • Self-inflicted
  • Judgmental
  • Overwhelmed
  • Volatile
  • Passive

Each form can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health. Chronic anger can lead to weakness of the immune system and can develop into other mental disorders. Self-inflicted anger may lead to causing harm to one’s self and a prolonged feeling of guilt. Judgmental anger leads to resentment of others. Overwhelmed anger leads to a feeling of not being able to cope with life’s challenges. Volatile anger leads to violence against others. Passive anger leads to self-defeating behavior.

Cause of condition

Anger management issues are born out a person’s inability to cope with certain issues. For instance, if you’re not capable of compromising your ideas and beliefs, if you find it difficult to express emotions other than anger, or if you can’t view a situation from another person’s perspective, you will easily feel anger every time a conflict arises.

Here are some reasons why a person may be unable to cope with anger:

  • The environment – If a child has parents who have anger management issues, there is a good chance that the child will imitate the behavior. The child will think that anger is a natural reaction to everything.

  • Abuse – Experiencing abuse as a child is one of the leading causes of anger management issues. Abuse can make a person feel that the safest emotional response is anger.

  • Lack of self-esteem – If you lack self-esteem, there’s a good chance that you’ll misinterpret common situations as being threatening. Anger is the natural response to a threat.

  • Stress management – Everybody is exposed to stress at one time or another. Some people more often than others. However, if you don’t know how to manage stress in a positive manner, there is a possibility that you’ll begin relying on the strongest emotion to overcome stress.

  • Inability to express emotions - Some people are taught from a very early age that it’s wrong to express emotions. Unfortunately, suppressing certain emotions result in the inability to control the emotion. Anger is a very strong emotion and it is highly likely that a person will not be able to learn to deal with the emotion if he or she can no longer suppress it.

Key Symptoms

Anger may be a mental state, but the emotion affects the body in many ways. Some of the most common physical symptoms of anger are:

If the anger lasts for a prolonged period, the person may start feeling anxiety, depression, memory loss, and sleep disorders. It can come to a point where even performing simple daily tasks can become a huge problem. There is also a possibility that the person will no longer be able to maintain a relationship.

Who to see & types of treatment available

If you have anger management issues, the best person to see is a psychologist. Most people who have problems coping with this emotion do not know the underlying cause of the condition. A psychologist will be able to help determine the exact causes.

If it hasn’t come to a point where anger has caused havoc to your life, you can try the following steps to see if you can learn how to handle this emotion without having to go to counseling.

  • Relax – Whenever you start to feel angry, try focusing on relaxing yourself. Take deep breaths and force yourself to think of something else other than what is making you angry. If you can, remove yourself from the situation so that you can relax and slowly cool down. For instance, if you’re in a room and you become angry with someone, take deep breaths and force yourself to walk out the door. If you’re driving, slow down and look for a place where you can park your vehicle. In order to relax, start thinking that being aggressive is not the only solution.

  • Express your anger calmly – Always bear in mind that anger is a healthy emotion that needs to be expressed. Once relaxed, try thinking of other solutions and discuss these with the person you’re angry with.

  • Avoid criticizing – when expressing your anger, avoid making the situation worse by criticizing the other person.

  • Learn to forgive – One of the best ways to learn how to control anger is to learn to forgive. Always think that people won’t always act the way you want them to, and that you’re willing to forgive those who act differently.

If you’re unable to perform the above steps, then it would be best to seek help. Psychologists can be costly, so if you can’t afford to see one, your neighborhood health centers may have counselors who can help you with your anger management problems at a price you can afford.

Don’t wait for the time that your inability to control anger destroys your life and/or gets you into trouble with the law. It is possible to learn how to manage your anger, all you need is for someone to show you how.

Resources:

  • Australian Psychological Society: Managing Your Anger
  • National Anger Management Association – Anger Management
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