Anger is a powerful emotion that everyone experiences, either on a physical or emotional level. As one of the most basic tools for survival, in most cases feeling angry is completely normal as long as it remains under control. But when explosive eruptions of anger occur suddenly, with little or no warning, this type of behavior can evolve into a dangerous situation and will eventually cause harm to that person or to people around them.
Being angry consists of physical, cognitive, and behavioral reactions that affect thinking, feeling, behavior, and relationships. Problems arise when someone has a difficult time expressing their emotions, accepting constructive criticism, or overgeneralizing a situation by blowing it out of proportion.
When someone becomes angry, they often engage in what is known as “fight or flight” mode. Symptoms of this rush of adrenaline include racing thoughts, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, tightness in the chest, and a burst of energy. Some may clench their jaws, grind their teeth, sweat, experience tremors, or begin to feel lightheaded and dizzy. These symptoms make it difficult to perform routine tasks and can add to their negative perceptions of life.
To manage anger, it is vital to evaluate one’s behavior and take the necessary steps to change how they react to problematic situations.
If someone doesn’t seek professional treatment, they are putting themselves at risk for Intermittent Explosive Disorder, which can cause significant distress and negatively impact people’s lives and their relationships. This chronic disorder involves angry outbursts that lead to impulsive, aggressive, and violent behavior. Some examples of this include road rage, domestic abuse, throwing or breaking objects, or having temper tantrums.
One of the most promising methods of anger management is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication if necessary. By seeking professional treatment, clients learn to explore what triggers such outbursts and take time to recognize what brings them on. From there, they will learn crucial techniques proven to help manage emotions and alter how one responds to certain situations.
While in therapy, clients learn how to calm themselves down and be assertive in a way that is respectful and will not be detrimental to others. In order to cope, clients must develop a plan of action to alter their behavior when they begin feeling angry or are about to lose control. Another key to managing anger is to avoid alcohol and other recreational drugs if someone’s risk of becoming aggressive increases with certain substances.
If medication is necessary, clients are often prescribed antidepressants that include an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) or an anticonvulsant mood stabilizer. If you'd like to talk to someone about anger management, please contact us.