For most people anger is a normal emotional response to threatening or frustrating events, or another person’s actions or words. When anger is expressed inappropriately, however, it may endanger your relationships, your job, and even your health. And you may have an anger management problem.
The challenge is not to deny or suppress anger but learn to recognize its warning signs, learn to calm down, and learn to deal with the situation in a positive way. If you think managing your anger is a challenge and wonder if it could be a problem, you can learn more about yourself by taking a self-assessment inventory.
Take an online Anger Management self-assessment.
Print out a self-assessment for Anger Management (This is a PDF file. To view it, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. To take the inventory, print the PDF file and fill in your answers.)
Understanding, Recognizing and Managing Anger
Anger is one of the primary emotions along with sadness, fear, and happiness. Unfortunately, when anger is expressed inappropriately it can be destructive. Like many emotional and behavioral conditions there is a physiological, psychological, and social component to the expression of anger.
When a person feels threatened, the body reacts with a fight or flight response. The brain releases chemicals that increase heart rate and breathing, thinking becomes focused on one issue, muscles tense, and vision sharpens. When anger is inappropriately expressed, an individual experiences these sensations which may then, in turn, actually intensify angry feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. This intensification can lead to aggressive behaviors such as fighting, yelling, destroying property, and saying hurtful comments.
The psychological component of “out of control anger” is reflected in how a person views a situation that is invoking the anger. When a person places high value on a particular person’s tone of voice, verbal expression, or actions, then the likelihood of anger is increased when those expectations are not fulfilled.
Certain psychiatric problems including depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and alcohol or drug abuse can lead to decreased resilience in handling potentially aggravating situations. A depressed, anxious or intoxicated individual has significantly reduced ability to modify or buffer anger responses which have been caused by the frustration of hopes or wishes.
The final factor that causes an individual to have uncontrolled anger relates to developmental and social factors Childhood experiences, such as isolation, poor nurturing, and observation of caregivers who expressed uncontrolled anger may be the origin of uncontrolled anger for vulnerable individuals. The child learns from observation and incorporates these behaviors into his or her models of conduct.
It is, therefore, not surprising to find greater rates of anger dyscontrol in individuals who did not have emotional nurturing as children, came from broken and disconnected families , and those who witnessed violent and out of control anger from their parents or other significant people in their lives.
Research has also shown that out of control anger is harmful to relationships with family and friends, job performance, and a physical and emotional health.
An angry person causes family members and co-workers to “walk on eggs.” He or she inhibits honest communication, and destroys trust, positive feelings, and caring.
Further, angry people are more prone to a number of stress related illnesses including hypertension, gastrointestinal illnesses, diabetes, and heart disease.
Strategies to Control Anger
The first step to control anger is to recognize that one’s anger is excessive and harmful to oneself and others. This step is crucial but extremely difficult.
An individual prone to anger dyscontrol usually does not recognize the loss of control until already engaged in aggressive and hurtful behavior. Once the pattern of angry behavior has begun, the individual is on “automatic pilot.” Learning and putting into practice successful strategies to manage the anger must start even before the anger is expressed at all.
Advice on How to Manage Anger
- Identify stressors that are frequently associated with your angry feelings; develop and employ non-aggressive behaviors before you feel angry.
- Recognize the physical signs in your body that accompany your anger (breathing increasing, heart pound, muscles tense.
- Pay attention to emotional signs of increasing anger holding in feelings, not saying what you really believe). Recognize that you are not thinking logically and teach yourself to think differently.
- Report, do not express your feelings and needs in situations that make you feel angry.
- Learn specific skills and methods of thinking that help you cope with anger.
- Identify and focus the you are reacting to aim to resolve the problem rather than using energy to be angry.
- Develop strategies to lower stress and tension in your life.
- Address other psychological problems that are contributing to greater risk for anger dyscontrol.
- Get an evaluation and assessment from a qualified psychiatrist to identify any need you might have for medication.
To accomplish these strategies, a skilled therapist can be extremely helpful and may actually be necessary. Many anger-prone people may find therapy initially frustrating, because the work of therapy requires a person to look closely at one’s life, to examine behaviors that are successful and those that interfere with one’s success.
An openness to change may be hard to maintain for people who are convinced they are right and justified in their actions because of what the other person has said or done.
When people can honestly recognize their actions and the consequences of their behavior, they have taken the first step in bringing their anger under control.
With this recognition comes the need to accept responsibility for one’s behavior that have been hurtful and in the long run ineffective, and learn to change perspectives and behaviors that interfere with one’s health and well being.
Let us help you address your concerns.
Call Potomac Grove Psychiatry today for an appointment: 301-963-0060.