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Anger Issues: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

7 min read

By Clarissa Vanner

  • Anger is a completely normal emotion and it can even be healthy.
  • Uncontrolled anger, on the other hand, is not healthy and needs to be managed.
  • If you feel angry more often than not, then this may be a key sign that you have anger issues.
  • Anger issues can be treated through anger management techniques as well as help from a mental health professional.

Anger is a completely normal (and healthy!) emotion. It often arises when we feel threatened but sometimes anger can be disproportionate to its trigger. This can hinder your decision-making skills which can be harmful to yourself and your loved ones. If this sounds familiar, you or a loved one may be suffering from anger issues.

The good news is anger can be managed. But you’ll need to understand the underlying cause in order to get the right treatment. Follow along as we take a look at the common signs, causes, and treatment options of anger issues.

Emotional Symptoms of Anger Issues

So, how do you know if you or a loved one has anger issues? Anger problems can present both emotional and physical symptoms so you’ll want to look out for both.

According to Healthline, the following are possible emotional symptoms of anger issues to watch for:

  • Frustration
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Guilt
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Physical Symptoms of Anger Issues

Healthline notes that anger can also affect vital organs like your heart and brain. It can even affect your muscles. Physical symptoms of anger issues may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • An increase in blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Tingling sensations

The source also points out that it is normal to experience all of these symptoms from time to time, however, people with anger issues will often experience them more frequently and severely.

Types of Anger issues

Anger can present itself in a variety of ways and it’s not always expressed in the same way. Healthline says there are three types of anger issues to look out for and they include:

  • Inward: this type of anger is directed at yourself. It may present as negative self-talk or refusing to provide yourself with basic needs (like food) and things that make you happy. Inward anger can also involve isolating yourself from others or self-harm.
  • Outward: this type often involves aggressive behaviors like shouting or breaking objects, and it can also include being verbally or physically cruel to others.
  • Passive: this type involves indirectly expressing your anger, such as being sarcastic, insulting remarks, sulking, and giving someone the silent treatment.

What Causes Anger Issues?

So, why do some people express healthy anger while others have anger issues? Anger can often be triggered by things like financial or emotional stress, family issues, and even problems in the workplace. If you don’t know how to manage your emotions and triggers, then the anger can manifest into a bigger problem.

Anger issues can also be caused by grief, which can come from the passing of a loved one. But grief can also result from other things such as a relationship breakup, divorce, or even losing your job. Anger issues can also be caused by underlying disorders, such as mental health conditions. Let’s take a closer look at some of these causes next.

Depression and Anger Issues

According to the National Institute on Mental Health, major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. While depression can often present a variety of symptoms like hopelessness, fatigue, anxiety, and a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, it can also cause anger.

Healthline points out that when anger issues occur with depression, it can either be suppressed or overtly expressed. Also, the intensity of the anger can vary from person to person. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression, reach out to a doctor.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anger Issues

Anger issues can also be caused by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Individuals with OCD may perform certain rituals like feeling the need to count to a certain number or repeating a certain phrase. They believe that something bad will happen if they don’t complete the ritual.

Healthline says that anger is also a common symptom and it affects about half of the individuals with OCD. People with OCD may become angry if they can’t execute their ritual or if they’re unable to prevent their compulsive behaviors or obsessive thoughts.

ADHD and Anger Issues

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that typically develops in childhood and continues into adulthood. Sometimes, it can go undiagnosed until adulthood. When this happens, it’s known as adult ADHD.

ADHD typically causes symptoms like inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, however, it can also often cause anger issues and a short temper too. Other symptoms to look out for include difficulty focusing, poor time management, and restlessness.

Other Conditions That May Cause Anger Issues

Other health conditions may trigger anger issues, including oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and bipolar disorder. ODD is a behavioral disorder that typically affects school-age children. Healthline explains that children with ODD are easily annoyed by others, which can cause them to be quick to anger and argumentative.

Bipolar disorder, on the other hand, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood and energy levels. It can also interfere with your concentration and ability to perform daily tasks. It’s also common for people with bipolar disorder to experience periods of anger. Healthline says some common behaviors include arguments, fighting, throwing things, and temper tantrums.

How Do I Know If I Have Anger Issues?

So, how do you know if you experience healthy bouts of anger or have anger issues? If you feel angry more often than not, then this may be a key sign that you have anger issues.

Other telltale signs of anger issues include anger that impacts your relationships (family, romantic, and friendships) and anger that feels out of control. Healthline says that you may also have anger issues if you’re verbally or physically abusive, or if your anger causes you to do or say things you regret. If you think you have anger issues, seek help from a mental health professional.

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How to Treat Anger Issues

A mental health professional can help treat anger issues. They’ll first start by determining if an underlying condition is the cause of your anger. If they’re able to diagnose a mental health condition, treatment will be aimed at treating the condition, which may include a variety of approaches like medication and talk therapy.

A mental health professional can also help you learn coping strategies to help you manage your anger. Let’s look at what anger management entails next.

What to Know About Anger Management

Anger management can be practiced with or without a professional. However, if your anger issues are affecting relationships or your daily life in any way, then it’s best to seek treatment from a mental health professional.

Medical News Today explains that anger management can help an individual identify their triggers and learn new skills to recognize the signs of anger and handle their triggers in a positive way. Your doctor or mental health professional may recommend anger management classes, which can be done in person, online, and even over the phone. Practicing anger management exercises at home can help too.

Other Ways to Manage Anger

The Mayo Clinic says there are 10 simple ways you can start controlling your anger to help you deal with it in a positive way. One effective way to manage anger is to think before you speak. It’s easy to say something you’ll regret later, especially in the heat of the moment. So, if you feel yourself getting angry, always take a moment before speaking or excuse yourself from the situation until you’ve had time to calm down. The other 9 tips include:

  • Express your concerns after you’ve had time to calm down and think clearly.
  • Exercising can both help reduce stress and it can also help ease anger in the heat of the moment.
  • Sometimes taking a timeout is necessary.
  • Try to identify solutions. Work on what can solve the problem, instead of focusing on what’s making you angry.
  • Use “I” statements when describing a problem. Placing blame or criticizing can only make the problem worse.
  • Don’t hold grudges.
  • Lean on humor to help diffuse tension but be careful because you don’t want to mistake sarcasm for humor. Sarcasm can hurt feelings and make the situation worse.
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditating, breathwork, exercising, journaling, listening to music, or whatever else helps you relax.
  • Know when to seek professional help. Sometimes, despite your coping techniques, anger can still be out of control. If this happens, it’s time to see a professional.

Junior Managing Editor

Clarissa is the Junior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat. She aspires to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating foods that nourish her body, but she isn't afraid to indulge in a little chocolate here and there! Clarissa loves cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with her dog. In her free time, you'll find her relaxing in her hammock or curled up on the couch reading a book.

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