Anger is an outlet to express a strong emotion against a negative situation. It’s healthy to let it out when appropriate. If you bottle up your emotions long enough, you’ll experience health problems and jeopardize relationships. On the other hand, expressing it too much and too often will also complicate your life. In either case, you’ll be dealing with anger issues.
Anger will manifest internally and externally. Internally, you could expect physical changes that include high blood pressure, heart palpitation or a tightening of your chest, pressure in the head (which explains why most angry people tend to rub or grasp their heads) and fatigue.
Left unresolved, anger issues can become a major problem. To learn whether you suffer from them is one way to practice preventive healthcare.
How to Know if You Have Anger Issues
Anger issues are patterns of negative behavior that demonstrate loss of control over emotions. People will express their anger in three ways: aggressive, passive and assertive. How do you express yours?
You may have a handle on what you do when a situation becomes too much to handle or when you feel someone has wronged you. If you don’t, you could look into an anger issues test. One example is a test from IDR Labs on multidimensional anger. It’s a popular test with 38 questions focusing on your experiences with rage.
If you’d rather not spend time on a set of questions, observe for signs that indicate you’ve got issues.
Signs of Anger Issues
An easy sign is learning how quickly someone annoys you or a situation provokes you.
Breathing from the upper chest, instead of from the diaphragm, isn’t just a sign of stress. It also indicates you’re under threat and are feeling an intense emotion as anger.
Aggressive behavior could be a mix of verbal outbursts and physical violence, or one of either. Road rage, kids throwing tantrums and any disruptive behavior are some examples.
Some people express their anger internally (also called self-inflicted anger). Self-hatred may not only be one of the symptoms of anger issues, but also a sign of depression.
Constant or perpetual resentment
If you feel angry all the time, even at the slightest hint of irritation, you may have anger issues.
Like you’re always on the lookout to start an argument, this sign means your anger is out of control.
Some expressions of anger may be regrettable. And when you find yourself feeling that after saying or doing something bad, you’ve got anger issues.
In contrast to guilt, you may justify your aggressive or hurtful behavior. Maybe you say it’s just how you are or that people are just too sensitive.
A sign of passive anger is when you ignore or stop talking to people. You’re mostly apathetic and not even realize you’re angry.
Unhappiness may be a result of anger, not just frustration, trauma or low self-esteem. When you’re unhappy, you tend to hold grudges, blame others, prone to violence or use artificial mood enhancers, e.g., alcohol or eating too much of anything that’s bad for health.
What Causes Anger Issues?
No life is without stress, but some people just have too many challenges, or they may not have the tools to manage them. Some people simply struggle more than others. And those struggles may be the causes of anger issues.
S0me of those issues include:
- Financial problems
- Poor social situation
- Family problems
- Overwhelming stress at home and at work
People who suffer from the following underlying conditions may also have problems controlling their anger or bottle up their rage too much:
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Alcohol or substance abuse
So if you’re asking whether anger issues are a mental disorder, that answer will be determined by a licensed mental health professional.
How to Calm Down
Whether you repress anger, that response will have a physical effect. A strong connection has been established between anger issues and the health of a person’s heart. Healthy people who are hostile more than others are 19 percent more likely to suffer from heart diseases than those who are calmer.
It’s not easy to pull back emotions when you’re in the heat of the moment. But you can practice a few simple steps to take control of the situation. A good start would be follow breathing techniques, like Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 technique. You may also want to try meditation or yoga, which use breathing techniques as well.
Once you’ve got your breathing down and you feel your heart racing less, try to think about your response in a rational manner.
- Is this worth reacting to because it will accomplish something good?
- Will this situation matter a few days or months from now?
- How can I resolve this without reacting aggressively?
Anger is a normal reaction to an extraordinary event. Although it’s not right to express it through violent or abusive behavior, it’s also not healthy to suppress it. Find the middle ground, and consider how your anger may impact someone else’s life and change a situation. If you feel you have no control over your anger, seek professional help.