People who suffer from anger are often easily irritable and sometimes not easy to deal with. Anger can be described as an intense emotion in response to feelings of opposition or hostility to something or someone. Uncontrolled anger can produce emotional outbursts or aggressive behaviour.
Learning how to deal with anger issues through anger management techniques can help you develop the anger management skills necessary for healthy relationships.
This article will discuss uncontrollable anger and its health risks, anger management techniques, coping strategies, treatments, and classes.
We all feel anger at times. In fact, anger can be a beneficial emotion. Anger directed at a person or situation may be accompanied by feelings of antagonism, especially when we think someone has wronged us or a situation has gone wrong.
Anger triggers our “fight-or-flight” response, similar to our body’s response to fear or excitement.1 The adrenal glands release hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which increase heart rate and blood pressure to prepare our bodies to respond with intensity.
The fight-or-flight response can be a productive response if it leads to an effective solution, like quick problem-solving, the ability to assert ourselves, or the courage to forgive someone.
However, uncontrollable anger is characterized by episodes of unwarranted rage resulting in unhealthy responses that may include outbursts, fighting, or abuse. Depending on the frequency and severity of outbursts, uncontrolled anger may be reflective of a condition called intermittent explosive disorder.2
People who experience uncontrolled anger may express their anger in different ways; however, typically the response is disproportionate to the situation. Common responses include:
- Assaulting people or animals
- An increasing sense of tension
- Repression (that manifests as anxiety or depression)
Uncontrolled anger can have long-term physical consequences, such as a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart attack, skin conditions (like eczema), digestive problems, and headaches.1
What Is Anger Management?
Anger management involves identifying the source or triggers for your anger and developing positive coping strategies. Treatment options like cognitive behavioural therapy, support groups, and sometimes medication can provide therapeutic solutions to anger that’s out of control.3
Stressors related to work, finances, family, or personal health issues are common causes of anger. Many people suffer from uncontrolled anger as a side effect of past abuse or trauma.4
Anger management can teach you how to control anger by allowing you to recognize the symptoms such as a racing heart rate, jaw clenching, or the urge to yell or throw things.
Learning how to release anger productively may require you to:
Be assertive, not angry: Learn to channel your anger in an assertive way rather than an aggressive way. Practice using “I” statements to express how you feel in the moment so that you can begin problem-solving.
Exercise regularly: Exercise can boost your mood, increase self-control, and promote relaxation by letting out nervous energy.
Practice relaxation techniques: In addition to exercise, try other forms of exercise such as meditation and yoga, which can promote calmness in the short term and help you manage anger in the long term.
Take a timeout: It may seem silly, but taking a timeout can be effective for children and adults. A timeout can help you walk away from a situation that might seem difficult to control and allow you space to calm down.
Think before you speak: Pause before you act to allow the opportunity to calm down and express your anger rationally.
Use humour: Humour can help release tension, improve mood, and allow for a more positive view of the situation that’s causing irritation.
Children may struggle to understand their feelings, resulting in aggressive behaviour such as defiance, disrespect, and temper tantrums. If left unchecked, childhood anger can lead to learning difficulties or barriers to making friends.
Allowing children to talk about their feelings can help them recognize their emotions and respond to them more appropriately.
Hormone surges during puberty can be responsible for amplified emotions, including anger and mood swings. Unfortunately, many teens lack maturity and coping skills, and they quickly become overwhelmed by their feelings.
Helping teens get in touch with their emotions, and encouraging them to self-reflect and express themselves by talking or through creative outlets (like painting or writing), can lead to more positive outcomes.5
Anger can be a difficult emotion to define.3 In adults, uncontrolled anger can represent a pattern that started in childhood or may be brought on by the pressures of adulthood. Sometimes, the person who has uncontrolled anger doesn’t realize its impact on all aspects of life.
Adults with poor anger management skills often struggle in romantic relationships, practice unhealthy behaviours like substance abuse, and have trouble getting ahead at work or even maintaining a job.
Dealing with the root of the problem (uncontrolled anger) can lead to unexpected rewards in multiple areas.
Changing your response to anger takes time and effort. Although the process may not happen overnight, studies show that 75% of people who receive anger management therapy see improvements over time.3