An Overview Of Rage And Strategies For Managing It

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated May 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The emotion of anger may be considered a natural part of human psychology, one that can have benefits in certain circumstances. Rage, on the other hand, can be seen as a more specific type of anger that may be linked to mental health concerns and, in some cases, violence. Rage may be managed through relaxing the body, reframing thoughts, removing yourself from the situation, understanding your triggers, and attending anger management classes. You may also find it beneficial to work with a therapist in person or online.

You don't have to manage rage on your own

What is rage, and how is it different from anger?

Before exploring the symptoms of rage in more detail, it may be worth understanding the relationship between anger and rage. 

The American Psychological Association generally defines anger as “an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” Anger may manifest as feelings of intense frustration, dislike, or irritation. It may arise due to emotional conflicts, threats, or other situations in which you feel somehow harmed by something another person has done or said. It may come with distinct symptoms, such as an increase in blood pressure or heart rate, an adrenaline rush, or an urge to respond aggressively or defensively. 

Anger may not always be a bad thing. It may be connected to the fight-or-flight response, the body’s way of alerting us to a threat, which can be why, in some cases, anger can be helpful in encouraging a person to take action or respond to a source of conflict. 

However, left unchecked, anger may also have the potential to develop into rage, a specific type of anger that may be more destructive. 

The American Psychological Association normally defines rage as “intense, typically uncontrolled anger.” How rage manifests may vary depending on the individual and circumstances. That being said, symptoms of rage may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Extreme agitation or stress
  • Shouting
  • Gesturing
  • Pacing
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feelings of intense hatred or hostility
  • Physical aggression
Rage may be more explosive, unpredictable, and destructive than anger. It may also be more difficult to calm down from, cause, or contribute to interpersonal conflicts, or even lead to acts of physical violence.

Rage and mental health 

Given the potential intensity of rage as an emotion, it may be important to consider its possible relationship to mental health and overall well-being. 

In some cases, bouts of rage may be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition. These may include, but are not limited to, those listed below:

  • Intermittent explosive disorder, in which individuals typically experience repeated, unexpected episodes of extreme anger, violence, or aggression
  • Bipolar disorder, in which individuals may experience periods of mania, depression, or intense anger
  • Substance use disorders, which may cause a person to act aggressively or violently under the influence of substances or alcohol
  • Depression or intense stress, which may both contribute to angry outbursts

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

If you find yourself experiencing distressing symptoms related to rage, it may be a good idea to consult a healthcare provider or mental health specialist.

Those who regularly experience fits of rage may experience side effects, such as the following:

  • Increased levels of stress or anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Rumination
  • Muscle tension, aches, and pains
  • Conflict at work or at home
  • Challenges in relationships
  • High blood pressure

These side effects, among others, may have detrimental impacts on an individual’s health or personal and professional life. Left unchecked, rage may also contribute to physical violence, potentially leading to legal troubles. These side effects may illustrate the importance of developing strategies for managing and responding to rage in a constructive way. 

Strategies for managing rage

While intense anger may have potentially distressing effects, various strategies may help you manage and respond to it in a healthy way.

Relax your body

Techniques to calm the body and nervous system may be helpful in reducing the physical symptoms of anger. This, in turn, may reduce the intensity of the thoughts and emotions related to the anger. These strategies might include practices like deep breathing or box breathing, physical exercise, or progressive muscle relaxation, among others. 

Reframe your thoughts

Anger may, at times, make thoughts and beliefs seem more intense or important than they really are. It may also lead to skewed perceptions of events. For example, “I’m going to be late for work, so now my whole day is ruined.” By reframing these thoughts (for instance, “I may be late for work today. What steps can I take to reduce the effects this has on my productivity?”), it may be possible to gain perspective and objectivity. 

Remove yourself from the situation

If you feel an intense bout of anger coming on, removing yourself from the situation entirely may be helpful for getting space, clearing your head, and gaining perspective. Practices like going for a walk, stepping outside for a moment, or even going into another room may be helpful for defusing the situation and allowing you to return to it when you’re calmer. 

Understand your triggers

Knowing what tends to cause episodes of anger may be helpful for taking steps to prevent them. Consider making a list of events, situations, or interactions in which you’ve noticed yourself responding with anger. If a pattern emerges, you may be able to prevent the trigger in future situations. For instance, if you notice that driving on the freeway tends to make you angry, you might consider taking the bus or using side streets. 

Attend anger management classes

Someone who frequently experiences rage might consider taking an anger management class. Anger management classes can help people learn how to control and manage rage, and they may also help affected individuals determine the underlying causes of their anger. Someone who genuinely experiences rage on a regular basis may find it valuable to seek help in a structured setting.

Consider therapy

For some, managing rage may be doable through the above strategies. However, some individuals may find themselves in need of extra support in learning to manage their rage in a way that is constructive and sustainable. In these cases, seeking therapy may be a helpful strategy. 

Anger management therapy may be a useful tool for learning to recognize the triggers of rage, reframe thoughts that contribute to feelings of rage, and develop coping strategies for responding to rage healthily. This might take the form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a more specialized form of CBT known as stress inoculation therapy, or another form of treatment, depending on your individual needs and goals. 

However, in-person therapy for anger management may not always be available to those without insurance, or to those whose insurance doesn’t cover counseling of anger. With costs that can reach as high as $200 per hour, this may make attending face-to-face therapy less feasible. 

Benefits of online therapy

Online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp may be a useful alternative, with prices starting at $65 per week and the ability to send messages to a counselor outside of scheduled therapy sessions. An online therapy platform can also make it simple to connect with a licensed mental health professional who has experience helping others overcome rage. Online therapy can be helpful for those experiencing challenges related to anger. One study from 2023 found that an internet-based therapy program generally led to reduced symptoms of anger and aggression among participants. 

You don't have to manage rage on your own

Takeaway

Anger may consist of feelings of frustration, resentment, or antagonism toward something or someone that you feel has wronged you. Rage may be defined as a more extreme form of anger. Symptoms of rage can vary from person to person, ranging from shouting and gesturing to physical violence. Rage may be associated with a variety of mental illnesses, such as intermittent explosive disorder, bipolar disorder, and others, and it may have a variety of unwanted effects. Strategies for managing anger may include getting space from the situation, reframing thoughts, practicing physical relaxation, identifying potential triggers, and attending anger management classes. For those in need of support managing anger, therapy—either online or face-to-face—may be a worthwhile resource. If you're interested in seeking online therapy on your terms, reach out to a licensed counselor at BetterHelp
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