Anger is a strong emotional response that is experienced by each and every one of us. It is usually felt and experienced as an unpleasant feeling that is triggered from injury, mistreatment, disagreement, or when we face obstacles that block us from pursuing our goals and achievements.
Anger is also known as a substitute emotion, an emotion that you use when you don’t know what else to use. Sometimes, people make themselves angry in order to not feel the pain anymore. They change their feelings of pain and hurt into anger because “it feels better to be angry than to be in pain”.
The common refrain is that it is much more satisfying to feel angry than to acknowledge or accept the pain. Did you know that this change often happens unconsciously?
Types of Anger
A prolonged exposure to anger, if not checked can lead to chronic anger. This increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Before you can address your anger issues, you should first determine your anger type. Below are a few common types of anger.
- Chronic anger is resulted from holding onto your anger for an extremely long period of time. This extremely dangerous action can lead to the weakening of the immune system, and it increases the risk of developing hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
- Passive anger is felt when deep down you’re a bit irritated, but you haven’t said so out loud or you haven’t acknowledged it yet. It is in turn expressed by sarcastic or passive-aggressive comments. This type of anger is difficult to identify and can wreak havoc on your health.
- People who feel volatile anger are known to act aggressively and violently, and have angry verbal outbursts. A more serious form of volatile anger is intermittent explosive disorder, wherein people shift into sudden and extreme bouts of anger that are out of character for them and are grossly out of proportion to the situation.
- Vengeful anger is experienced when a person develops an obsession to take revenge on those who they feel have wronged him/her. “Studies find that when someone wrongs you and you are given the opportunity to take revenge, the dopamine or reward centre in the brain gets activated in a similar manner to addictions,” says Dr. Aiken, director of the Mood Treatment Centre and instructor in clinical psychiatry at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.
- When a person cannot move on from their anger, and has a difficult time forgiving and forgetting the event where they felt wronged, it is known as petrified anger. It is when someone clings onto the feelings of resentment and hatred, and is perhaps waiting for an apology or some sense of closure from the person who hurt and angered them.
Negative Effects of Anger
- Anger and unexpected anger-outbursts put your heart at great risk – You increase the risk of developing hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, and the chance of having a heart attack doubles.
- Anger weakens your immune system -If you find yourself angry nearly all the time, you just might find yourself feeling sick more often too. A study that was conducted in Harvard University showed that among healthy people, simply recalling an angry experience from their past caused a six-hour dip in levels of the antibody ‘immunoglobulin A’, the cells’, the first line of defence against infection.
- Anger heightens your anxiety levels – Anxiety and anger are interlinked with each other. In a 2012 study, researchers from Concordia University found that anger can aggravate symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition characterized by an excessive and uncontrollable worry that interferes with a person’s daily life.
- Anger is linked to depression – Various studies have showed that depression and anger bursts go hand in hand, especially among men. In depression, passive anger is common.
- Anger can shorten your life – Stress is very tightly linked to general health, and anger. If you’re stressed and angry, there is a high chance of your life span shortening. A University of Michigan study conducted over a 17-year period found that couples who hold in their anger have a shorter life span than those who readily say something when they’re angry and frustrated.
How to Determine Anger-related Issues
Losing your temper from time to time doesn’t necessarily mean that you have anger issues. Mental health professionals focus on the trends in your behaviour, emotional symptoms and physical symptoms in order to diagnose an anger disorder.
Constant annoyance, irritability, rage, lack of sleep, and anxiety are common emotional symptoms. If you feel overwhelmed, find it difficult to think straight, and even fantasize about harming yourself or others, these could determine that you are experiencing an anger disorder.
Anger is a strong emotion, and strong emotions often result in physiological changes in your body. If you do not get your anger disorder or anger-related issue checked by a professional, your overall health and immune system is at risk. Common physical symptoms of anger issues include; increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, fatigue, sweaty palms and a tingling sensation.
How to Deal with Anger Management Issues
- The first step to recovery is to accept that you have a problem. You can then begin to examine your behaviour and see what triggers certain reactions.
- Try to surround yourself with more positive people, and make an effort to be present in positive environments. Avoid any form of negativity.
- Look at the things that make you angry with a rational mind. Look for ways you can resolve them.
- Get plenty of exercise. Going for a walk, run, swim or game calms down your nerves and helps you to think much clearer. It is also helpful to learn some relaxation techniques, like yoga and meditation.
- If none of these work and you feel overwhelmed by the anger, seek professional help. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, only stronger!