Dealing With A Bad Temper: Treatment Options

Updated August 30, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

We all lose our tempers at times, even in normal daily life. Simple frustration or irritation can drive emotions off track, add physical tension, increased heart rate, and trouble breathing. However, there is anger, and then there is rage. Acting out in response to those issues of anger can be dangerous. Sometimes they are childlike tantrums that are explosive and disruptive, or an intermittent explosive disorder (IED). Diagnosis of IED may not be totally clear, existing within and even outside psychiatric issues. Luckily, there have been many treatments developed over the past couple of decades.

Definition of a Bad Temper

The expression of anger can sometimes appear easily and often in one's typical behavior. A bad temper can be anything from unsuitable to inappropriate or unhealthy. So, when "bad" is related to our tempers, it refers to the following:

  1. A tendency to be in a poor mood
  2. Often maintaining a negative state of mind

Anger is often referred to as a "short fuse." Someone may throw a sort of tantrum in response to a stressful situation, especially one that should not be that stressful—something like being stuck in congested traffic or simply being angry at the end of the workday, though nothing is really "wrong." This can also be related to one's "mood" and what can cause changes in mood, along with how often and easily these changes occur.

A bad temper can also be a certain poor or negative response that someone repeatedly has in a specific situation. Some frequent quotes that represent a bad temper may be things like the following:

  1. "He always has a bad temper when dealing with salespeople."
  2. "She has a bad temper every time solicitors come to the door."
  3. "His bad temper appears any time those spam calls show up."

While it is also the response that is displayed to any certain situation, this may also be about one's common state of mind or type of mood. Again, this could be with specific events or situations, but it could also be about someone's mood or temper overall.

Identify Bad Temper in Yourself

While it may not be easy to diagnose yourself due to personal bias, there are some questions you can ask yourself, to help evaluate the level at which your temper may be affecting your daily life. Do you yell when you are cut off in traffic? Do you become incredibly tense when your morning trip to work is delayed? Do you leave work in anger mode simply because it has been slightly stressful?

With any of these challenges, you may see a short fuse in yourself and know that some further evaluation or work on calming methods is needed. Some of this work can be done on your own, thus helping improve your quality of life and relationships.

Online self-assessments are often only a simple clue to what the problem may be. Make sure that the test is professionally written and published by a psychology professional. Still, if you believe there is a problem, a visit with a professional counselor or your physician would be the best step to take from there.

Signs and Symptoms of a Bad Temper

I Don't Want To, But I Get Really Angry Sometimes

An occasional angered response does not necessarily indicate a true bad temper. A full diagnosis requires the appearance of behavioral and emotional trends, along with physical and emotional symptoms that also occur often. While it may be simply anger that plays a role in these issues, there may also be a problem with managing anger positively.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, having trouble organizing or managing your thoughts, or having intrusive thoughts about hurting yourself or others, you could be experiencing a bad temper—or an even more severe anger disorder. In response to strong emotions, there can be physical changes, eventually leading to bad temper and anger. Without managing anger and a bad temper, your physical health can be at risk. Some physical symptoms include high blood pressure, headaches, sinus pressure and more. Basically, if a bad temper takes over your mental state you can become physically uncomfortable.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifelinecan be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available to assist 24/7.

Potential Causes of a Bad Temper

Some triggers may cause anger or irritability, physical and psychological. These can be anxiety, busy work and lifestyles, as well as overwhelming family, social, and financial responsibilities. Something as simple as disobedient children after a long workday can add to the stress and anxiety of life. When these and other situations cause irritability, frustration tends to set in. If this begins easily, it can be a sign of a stronger anger issue.

Some of the physical causes of a bad temper include sleep deprivation, low blood sugar, diabetes, flu and many more. Babies and children often feel irritable when they are ill as well, and this can lead to anger or bad tempers throughout the home. Some additional adult medical conditions can cause hormonal changes and lead to irritability and poor tempers. These are anything from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) to menopause to hyperthyroidism.

In addition to medical problems, there are also health problems that are more related to psychological or psychiatric issues. These can be side effects to prescriptions being taken, as well as drug use, alcoholism, caffeine withdrawal or others.

How to Deal With a Bad Temper

We know that it is always important to see a medical professional if some of the symptoms of a bad temper have begun to overtake other portions of your life. While anger is a normal and healthy emotion, it must be managed positively. Uncontrolled anger can have a negative effect on many aspects of your life.

  • Take Time to Yourself.A timeout is something we think of as a punishment for children, but it can be calming for us as well. If irritation begins then step away from the situation. Take a deep breath, count slowly to ten and try to let the tension go. Also, the option of small breaks during stressful periods of the day can help to manage your response.
  • Don't Carry Your Temper or Hold a Grudge.We all know that it is easy to hold a grudge when we are angry with someone or about something that has happened. It can be helpful to remember that the past is behind you and move forward. Even if it has to do with something regular like discomfort with your job or another situation, you can work to relieve the stress or anger by going to the gym or getting some exercise before going home, causing the two situations to remain separate.
  • Keep a Journal.Keep a short daily journal over a period of a few weeks. You can get an idea of the events and occurrences that cause your temper to rise versus where you can remain calm. This may help you determine what things you can do to keep yourself calm or revert to a calm state after being angered.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques.Many possible relaxation techniques can help to reverse a bad temper. There is visualization of a happy place and time, deep and calm breathing, a couple of yoga poses, walking away from the situation briefly, stretching, and many more. Another interesting one is the repetition of a positive phrase where you are telling yourself to calm down. There is also the option to listen to calm music while completing tasks that tend to upset or anger you.

  • Take a Walk or Get Some Exercise.It is important to remember that exercise is an incredible stress relief technique, and can help to alleviate anger or a bad temper that is a result of stress and anxiety. You can exercise every morning to help maintain a calm attitude overall, or exercise after work or another upsetting time before going home, when you need to walk in the door with a better mood. Take a short walk during the situation, walk away from your desk when work has become difficult, or when a colleague or your boss has upset you. Walk away to clear your mind, take some deep breaths to calm yourself, and return refreshed and ready to go with a more positive attitude. Possibly join an exercise class to make an active routine and maintain a better mood as a whole.
  • Think Before You Speak.We all have the desire to blurt out a response to a situation that upsets us. But it is important to think first about the situation and what we are saying to the other person. Using the "I" voice is important as you are presenting your thoughts in the conversation to stick to the same voice in presenting your opinion and feelings. Be thoughtful of what you say and prepare yourself before speaking. Say things like "I am upset that you didn't do the dishes like you said you would," or, "I am frustrated that the new schedule for the meeting was not sent to me before we all got together." Make sure you are presenting a conversation on a single situation rather than claiming that someone always or never does something that is frustrating.
  • Think of a Funny Memory, or Use Humor to Release Your Tension.Rather than remaining completely focused on the situation that has angered you, make an effort to think of a funny memory or another thing that makes you laugh or smile. Try to smile despite the unhappy feelings you may have. It is recognized that smiling can turn you toward a more positive and friendly mood. You can even tell yourself a positive quote like, "Turn a frown upside down!" Making an effort to reverse your mood toward a positive manner can help turn over that bad mood.
  • Know Your Triggers and Identify Solutions.Especially if you have kept a journal, it is easy to locate the things in daily life that can trigger a bad mood within you. From things as simple as heated or controversial conversation topics lead you to anger to traffic jams, certain things trigger some people more than others. You may know that you are like a moth to a flame, and start to force yourself away once you begin to get involved heatedly. If you know that taking a deep breath or walking away will calm you, then it is good to force yourself to do so.
  • Set Alarms for During the Day.Another thing to know about yourself is whether you have specific times during the day that your temper tends to flare up. It could be right before lunch, or right after lunch when you have gotten a little tired or your caffeine from the morning has worn off. It is possible to set some alarms for a little ahead of these times throughout the day so that you can be prepared ahead of time and know what you are best able to do to prevent these issues.
  • Stretch in the Morning.Stretching first thing is a good way to make sure that your muscles are not tense upon starting your workday or other events. This is a good thing to do before getting ready as it can help you to start off your day in a more relaxed way.
  • Find a Place Where You Can Be Alone.It is easy to find that there are certain places you may become frustrated or angry where your temper will rise quickly. It is good to think of a place to yourself where you may be able to be alone and calm yourself. There may also be some places that you know you can take on problems much easier or other colleagues who you find friendly to talk to for a few moments during the work day, so you can remove yourself to those places at times when you find yourself in starting to gain a bad temper.

Managing a Bad Temper With BetterHelp

I Don't Want To, But I Get Really Angry Sometimes

Studies have shown that the resources and counseling provided by online therapy can reduce symptoms in those experiencing unwanted anger. A study published by the Swedish Association of Behavioural Therapists found that online cognitive therapy was useful in managing problematic anger leading to relationship issues, low self-esteem, and violence. Researchers noted that this method significantly decreased symptoms of anger post-treatment, which adds to a large body of evidence that points to internet-based therapy as an effective alternative to face-to-face therapy. Online cognitive therapy helps to target and replace the intrusive thoughts that can lead to unwanted anger, providing the tools to recognize triggers as they happen, decrease daily stress, and increase positive interactions.

As considered above, internet-based mental health interventions can help you examine the sources of your anger, and manage and/or eliminate the symptoms. If you’re already coping with unwanted anger, the idea of dealing with traffic, sitting in a waiting room, and generally being pressed for time may sound less than ideal. With BetterHelp, you can schedule counseling on your own time, without leaving the comfort of your own home. And you’ll have the option of communicating with your therapist outside of sessions, not just when you’re in the office. Read below for reviews of counselors, from those who have experienced similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“Shawn has helped me gain a positive perspective on my life and change my focus from shortcomings or failures to my strengths and achievements. He really examines my problems carefully and provided worksheets to help me identify my goals and triggers for my anger issues. This greatly helped me to increase self-awareness.”

“Deborah was amazing, she’s helped me find ways to deal with my anger issues and self esteem issues that I’ve carried for most of my life in such a short amount of time. I would recommend her to anyone who struggles with these same issues. I knew I wasn’t a lost cause but I never thought Deborah would help me learn to deal with them and solve these problems so quickly. She’s definitely amazing at her job. 10/10 recommend.”

Conclusion

As mentioned before, we all end up irritated or angry from time to time. We could be tired or hungry or even slightly ill. But it is important to know if this situation has overcome you and won't go away, no matter how many of these personal and natural options you try to help yourself. There is always the option of speaking to a mental health professional. Take the first step today.

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