Managing anger is a skill that can be learned, much like effective communication or dealing with difficult people. Learning to control extreme emotions can be very important, preventing you from saying something you'll later regret or making poor decisions in the heat of the moment. Many times anger is the symptom of deeper feelings such as rejection, regret, or disappointment. Everybody gets angry from time to time, but letting your emotions control you is largely a matter of choice. Anger management techniques can be adopted by anyone in order to live a happier, better regulated life.
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Medically Reviewed By: Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Anger is a complex emotion that can vary in intensity and affect both you and those around you. While anger can be a natural response to certain situations, at other times, it can lead to unhealthy, disproportionate responses to people in your life that you don’t mean to hurt. Not knowing how to manage your anger can make situations worse and cause you to do or say things you regret. Anger can also negatively affect your health in a number of ways. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that uncontrolled anger can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Below, we’ll discuss anger, reasons people experience anger, and ways to manage it more skillfully.
What Is Anger?
The American Psychological Association defines anger as “an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” Anger doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It can sometimes be used to effect change in the face of discrimination or other forms of injustice.
However, anger can become a concern when you find yourself getting angry often and you can’t seem to control your temper. It can be especially important to realize when you are frequently misplacing your anger onto people who do not deserve it, as this can be detrimental to your relationships.
As with any mental health concern, it may be beneficial to seek support when you recognize that you have a problem with anger. You can learn to manage your anger successfully with the right approach, which may include counseling and evidence-based strategies to try on your own.
A licensed therapist may be able to help you understand why you’re experiencing so much anger and where it may be coming from. They may also help you determine whether your anger may be a symptom of a mental health condition like bipolar disorder or depression. Although it isn’t well known, both of these conditions can lead to uncontrolled anger. A therapist may be able to help you devise a treatment plan tailored to your specific triggers so that you can stop anger in its tracks and respond with composure.
Different people, situations, and environments can make us angry. Maybe someone isn’t treating you well, your job is stressful, or you’re in a romantic relationship where your partner does things that increase your stress levels. You may also become angry after getting fired from a job or because of a traumatic event like a bad breakup or divorce.
People often become angry when they think they are being mistreated or their feelings are not valued. Anger could also be related to a mental illness. Finding the things that trigger your anger and learning ways to express your anger appropriately can be vital to nurturing healthy relationships and feeling at peace with yourself.
The way we express anger can be partially influenced by the way we were raised. If you grew up in a household where people yelled and broke things to show their displeasure, as an adult, you might behave in similar ways despite not wanting to lash out at others. You also might not yet know any other way to get your feelings across without acting in this way, but there are ways to express your anger appropriately.
Other people have learned how to manage their anger skillfully. They can sense when something or someone is going to make them angry and can proactively take steps to calm themselves down. They might take a deep breath, walk away, count to 10, or observe their physiological symptoms rather than react immediately. Typically, they take a moment to process their feelings and then respond to the situation.
Learning To Communicate Anger In A Healthy Way
It can be important to learn healthy ways to express your anger to others. Sometimes people don’t understand their emotions, and they end up snapping. Their anger goes from level zero to 100 seemingly in an instant. It can feel frustrating when your anger comes out explosively. Learning different anger management techniques may help you slow down and cope with your feelings rather than letting them get the best of you. You might be able to apply these strategies on your own, but you may benefit from the assistance of a licensed counselor.
Online Counseling For Anger
If you feel hesitant to visit a therapist’s office to discuss problems with anger, you might consider trying online therapy. A counselor may be able to help you identify the reasons behind your anger and work through them in a productive way. With online therapy at BetterHelp, you can speak with a therapist via audio, video, or live chat. You can also reach out to your therapist 24/7 through in-app messaging, and they’ll respond as soon as they can. You may find this helpful if you experience anger in between sessions and want to write down your feelings in the moment.
The Efficacy Of Online Counseling
Everyday anger management can be an effective form of treatment, but online counseling can also be beneficial. Researchers from the Centre for Psychiatry Research at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden conducted a study on anger and online therapy. They found that “four weeks of therapy delivered over the internet can help people with anger and aggression.”
Anger is a natural emotion that can arise when someone treats you unjustly, but having too much anger too frequently can leave you feeling out of control. Uncontrolled anger can have serious effects on the mind and body, including increased risk of heart disease. If you’re experiencing challenges related to anger, you may benefit from consulting with a licensed counselor in your community or online.
With online therapy at BetterHelp, you can be matched with a licensed therapist who has experience helping people gain control over their anger. If needed, you can always change therapists until you find a good match. Take the first step toward freedom from uncontrolled anger and contact BetterHelp today.