Valley Behavioral HealthValley Behavioral Health

by Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

Anger is a normal human emotion and can be an appropriate reaction to many common events. In most cases, it is considered a healthy response to a difficult situation as long as it triggers a series of positive actions to safely manage and understand the emotion. But what happens when your anger becomes an uncontrollable force in your life? Frequent or poorly managed anger is not normal or healthy and can lead to serious consequences. Chronic anger is dangerous to your physical, mental, and emotional health and can be harmful to your personal and professional relationships. It can also result in financial troubles due to job loss or even legal action.

If you need to learn how to control your anger, it’s important to understand this complex and forceful emotion and to seek help right away. Anger that is not kept under control can lead to high blood pressure, elevated heart rate and high levels of stress and tension. These conditions could lead to serious medical complications, including heart disease and chronic headaches. Serious social consequences can also occur. If you find yourself feeling angry often or are unable to regulate your responses when anger strikes, it’s time to take action and regain control of this powerful emotion.

 

 

What causes Anger Issues?

What causes anger issues in the first place? There are actually many factors that can lead to this problem and they originate from both internal and external sources. For those who have suffered a trauma or witnessed one or more troubling events in life, anger issues are a common long-term side effect. However, everyday stressors can also lead to anger problems, especially if they occur frequently or seem to have no end in sight. These can include high demands or long hours at work, caring for small children or the elderly, financial hardship and tensions between friends or family members. Those who are living with grief or a difficult illness are likely to struggle with anger as well.

Anger may be a sign of an underlying disorder, including depression, anxiety, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or bipolar disorder. In these cases, evaluation should be sought to effectively manage or treat the disorder as a whole, not just one isolated symptom or issue. Some disorders are synonymous with anger problems, as their symptoms and side effects deal almost exclusively with anger and rage. These include ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), which is most common in children, and IED (intermittent explosive disorder), which causes violent behavior that is disproportionate to a situation.

When people struggle to control their anger, it is consequentially directed at either themselves or others in a negative or harmful way. If you struggle with inward anger, you focus your frustrations on yourself. This can result in damaging self-talk or self-harm and can often prompt individuals to deny themselves a basic need. Outward anger is directed at others, typically at those closest to you. Uncontrolled outward anger can become violent and lead to verbal and physical abuse. Passive anger is doled out using indirect methods, such as sarcasm, the silent treatment or psychological attacks.

How to Control Your Anger

One way to set yourself up for success is to practice healthy stress relief on a regular basis. Frequent vigorous exercise can provide the outlet you need to effectively manage your emotions. Other forms of self-care could help you maintain control in a stressful situation. Yoga, meditation and certain creative hobbies can help build focus while promoting a sense of calm. Relaxation and breathing techniques can be especially helpful during an anger crisis. By developing and practicing a healthy response to your anger, you’ll be able to refocus your aggression in a positive and effective way.

In most cases, it’s helpful to eliminate as many sources of stress whenever possible. Try to keep yourself out of situations that typically lead to outbursts or cause you to lose control. While some of these stressors are easy to identify or eliminate, others may require a deeper insight or a care plan. Therefore, professional guidance from a trained therapist or counselor is often critical for those with anger issues. For many people, individual or group therapy helps them develop a plan while uncovering the heart of the issue. In some instances, medication may be needed to treat an underlying condition in order to successfully manage anger.

Anger Management Counseling

A man attending anger management counseling.
 

While healthy practices can help you deal with your anger more effectively, anger management can be incredibly important and even necessary in regaining full control and addressing your issues. For many, external assistance and professional guidance is the only path to success. There are several approaches to anger management, including one-on-one treatment, group therapy, and even video or online courses. During your time in anger management, you can learn how to better understand your anger and what could be prompting you to reach an out-of-control state. You can develop useful tools to help you react properly to a trigger, and can also find comfort and support through the shared experiences of others in anger management programs. Perhaps most importantly, anger management through therapy or classes can help identify an underlying condition that requires a specific type of evaluation or treatment.

While there are numerous situations that can lead to frequent or severe anger, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. In order to protect your physical, mental, emotional and social well-being, seek help to manage your uncontrolled anger right away. With the proper approach and guidance, you can save yourself and others from irreparable harm and lifelong consequences.

 

Dr. Thatcher
About Dr. Thatcher
Dr. Todd Thatcher has worked at Valley for 8 years and has been the Chief Medical Officer for 5 years. He is triple board certified in forensic psychiatry, general psychiatry, and addiction medicine. Currently, Dr. Thatcher is passionate about high quality training of our employees and generating and tracking as much clinical data as possible to improve processes and procedures for increased ease, accessibility, and ultimately to better serve our clients and provide the best care possible.