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How unmanaged anger can impact your health?

What is anger, and how can it manifest?

 

Anger, like all emotions, is a part of us and is a natural emotion. It’s a normal response to certain situations, particularly those perceived as threatening, unjust, or frustrating. Anger can manifest in various ways, from mild irritation to intense rage, and it can be expressed both verbally and nonverbally. Unhealthy patterns of anger can be harmful to oneself or others and can have negative consequences on your physical, emotional, and relational well-being.

Healthy anger

Anger can be a good thing; it is an emotion that is there to protect and defend us and let us know that something is wrong. It allows you to assert yourself, set boundaries, and address perceived injustices or grievances whilst also maintaining self-control and respect for others.

Anger is healthy when it is used to protect our boundaries and territory, this is an appropriate expression of anger, but we still want to be able to control it. It is healthy if communicated in an understandable and efficient manner, and you don’t find yourself thinking about it long after the event.

There are very good reasons for us to feel anger, how we express it makes all the difference. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control your reaction. 

Unhealthy anger

A high amount of or uncontrollable anger can prove to be unhealthy. It can cause damaging actions, thoughts and extreme reactions that can severely affect you and your relationships. 

The anger can make us lose control, to the point where you end up doing things you regret. 

Unhealthy anger varies for everyone, some people have a quiet internal anger. Some people can’t resist thinking back on things that upset them. Some people become angry easily and can even act violently or aggressively.

Unhealthy anger may be expressed through explosive outbursts of rage or aggression, often a disproportionate reaction to the triggering event. This can lead to verbal or physical harm to oneself, others, or property.

Instead of expressing anger directly, unhealthy anger can manifest into passive-aggressive behaviour, such as sarcasm, sulking, or giving the silent treatment. This indirect expression of anger can lead to misunderstandings and a breakdown of trust in relationships.

What triggers anger?

Anger is an emotion that has been experienced by virtually everyone at some point in their lives. We may be able to see anger in the people around us and even in ourselves. Sometimes our anger can get out of hand, and that can feel very scary. But it is important to acknowledge that anger is a human emotion and is normal, but we want to ensure we have control and boundaries. This is only possible when you can pinpoint what it is that you are angry about? What is it that is triggering this anger? 

Triggers can be caused by a wide range of internal and external factors that inflict an angry response, and triggers vary from person to person. Some include: 

• Stress: High levels of stress, whether from work, relationships, financial pressures, or other sources, can increase emotional reactivity and make you more prone to anger.

• Criticism or Rejection: Feeling criticized, rejected, or humiliated by others can trigger feelings of anger, defensiveness, or wounded pride.

• Frustration: Feeling blocked or defeated in achieving a goal can cause frustration, which can escalate into anger if the obstacle persists or seems unjust.

• Unresolved Trauma or Past Hurt: Past experiences of trauma, abuse, or unresolved emotional wounds can leave you more vulnerable to anger, especially if triggered by reminders of the past.

On the surface, anger can present itself, but underneath that anger can be underlying feelings, triggers and experiences that have been suppressed. They haven’t been addressed and have now manifested into anger. 

 

How anger can impact your mental health

Anger, when experienced chronically or expressed in unhealthy ways, can have significant impacts on mental health.

Depression 

Anger can be both a symptom and a contributor to depression. Those who struggle with unresolved anger or have difficulty expressing it may internalize and supress their feelings, leading to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low self-esteem. On the other hand, individuals who are experiencing depression can also feel irritable and prone to angry outbursts. You could feel angry with having to deal with a mental illness or towards yourself and those around you. 

Self-Esteem

Excessive anger can also undermine our self-esteem and self-worth. Individuals who struggle to manage or control their anger can feel ashamed or guilty about their behaviour, which can lead to feelings of self-loathing or inadequacy. This negative self-perception can contribute to depression and other mental health issues. 

Relationships

Uncontrolled anger can strain your relationships with your partners, family members, friends, and colleagues. Hostile interactions, verbal or physical aggression, and frequent conflicts can affect trust and intimacy. Again, unhealthy anger can cause us to react or behave in ways that we later on regret, the strain that puts on our relationships can cause you to begin to socially isolate yourself and make you feel lonely. These are all risk factors for poor mental health.

 

How anger can take a toll on your physical body.

Not only can anger affect your mental health, but it can impact your physical health also. Anger can cause increased heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels, which can impact the body. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) have explored the link between anger, stress, and cardiovascular health. Explaining that negative emotions such as anger are linked to a higher risk of heart disease as well as a lower possibility of recovering from health issues like heart attacks. It can also cause poorer cognitive health. 

Intense feelings of anger activate the amygdala region of the brain, which is responsible for our emotions, triggering our body’s “fight or flight” response. This causes the release of hormones that increase our heartbeat and blood pressure, which can strain our hearts and contribute to hypertension and other cardiovascular problems over time.

Prolonged anger can suppress our body’s immune system, making us more susceptible to infections and illness. Stress hormones released during anger can interfere with our immune function, reducing the body’s ability to fight off pathogens and recover from illness.

The National Library of Medicine also offers comprehensive information on how anger can affect physical health. Stating that anger

“(can also contribute to the adoption of an unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, consumption of high caloric aliments, alcohol and caffeine consumption).”

How private therapy can support you with strategies for managing anger. 

Because anger is perceived as a negative emotion and it can be harmful to others, it can be difficult to figure out when it is okay to feel angry and what you should do if you feel angry?

Addressing unhealthy anger often requires self-awareness, coping skills, and, in some cases, professional intervention. Anger management, anger therapy, mindfulness practices, and healthy lifestyle changes can help you to understand and manage your anger in more constructive ways. It can be an incredibly difficult skill to master, it can be frustrating, but it takes time. 

Private counselling or private therapy for anger management can provide valuable support and guidance for those who are struggling with anger management and can improve your overall well-being and create healthier relationships.

 

Understanding your triggers.

A therapist can help identify the underlying triggers of your anger, whether they are internal (such as unmet needs or unresolved emotions) or external (such as specific situations or interactions). Understanding these triggers is the first step in learning to manage anger more effectively.

Managing stress

Therapy addresses underlying causes of your stress and teaches stress management techniques to reduce overall stress levels, which can help you with your anger. This may include time management strategies, boundary setting, and lifestyle changes to help with relaxation and well-being.

Underlying issues

In some cases, your anger may be rooted in unresolved trauma, unmet needs, or underlying mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. Therapy provides a supportive environment for you to explore these underlying issues and develop strategies for addressing them.

Coping skills

Therapy teaches you a variety of coping skills and relaxation techniques to manage anger in the moment. These may include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and mindfulness practices. Learning to self-soothe and regulate emotions can help you respond to anger triggers more calmly and effectively. It is helpful to move the feelings of anger in healthy, non-harmful ways so they are not supressed, which could cause further harm in the long run.

If you feel you could benefit from anger management and are interested in private therapy, contact the My Solution Wellbeing counselling team. We would be happy to help and answer any questions. 

 

Written By Ria Kaur 

 

 

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By MSWB Team on 16/04/2024 in Resources

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