Struggling With Anger Attacks? How To Gain Control
Updated August 27, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers
Is anger a constant struggle in your life? Do you feel like you’re constantly ending up with regret over angry outbursts that you had with those in your life? When you look back at the situation, you may even have a hard time understanding what you were so angry about and why you reacted the way you did. If this sounds familiar to you, you may be struggling with anger attacks. It may feel like it’s out of your control, but you can learn how to curb these attacks by controlling anger that you feel.
What Are Anger Attacks?
Anger attacks are more than just regular feelings of being angry. They more closely resemble what a panic attack would be, but they don’t have to include feelings of fear and anxiety. When someone has an anger attack, many times, it is uncharacteristic of their typical behavior, and it’s an overreaction for the current situation.
Like panic attacks, anger attacks can seem to come out of nowhere. Symptoms of anger attacks can include:
- Racing heart
- Chest pain
- Hot or cold flashes
- Shortness of breath
- Wanting to attack others or attacking them
- Hitting, punching, or destroying things
As you can see, anger attacks are much more intense than what normal levels of anger include. And, it can impact the way that you feel physically, not just mentally.
What Causes Anger Issues?
Many different things can cause anger issues for individuals. When it comes to anger attacks, many times, it happens because a person feels trapped emotionally. When they are unsure of how to get out of the situation that they’re in and it becomes overwhelming, they may lash out in anger.
Another common cause of anger issues can be depression. Many people think of depression as overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and while that is true, depression can often disguise itself as anger. This can result in increased irritability and angry outbursts that are uncharacteristic to a person’s normal behavior.
Because people don’t often associate anger with depression, it’s easy for this symptom to be missed. This can cause people to look for other solutions to their anger issues when the underlying cause is depression.
Tips On Controlling Anger
If you struggle with anger issues such as anger attacks, learning strategies for controlling anger in a more effective way can have a big impact on your life. One of the key things to remember in this area is that learning to control your anger is a proactive action to take. It’s not something that you can do in the heat of the moment when you’re already angry. But learning coping strategies and practicing them before you’re angry can help you the next time you reach the point that your anger is escalating.
The more you practice skills to help with controlling anger, the better the chance will be that you will be able to use that skill when you’re getting angry instead of allowing yourself to act out in anger.
Learn Healthy Ways To Express Anger
Purposely choosing healthy ways to express anger can be an important start if you struggle with anger attacks. In the heat of your emotions, it can be difficult to make a wise decision on how you’re going to react. However, if you’ve been purposefully choosing and practicing healthy ways to release that anger, it can help you to make wiser decisions at the moment.
Some people like to use the strategy of counting to ten before they react. While 10 seconds may not be enough time to allow you to calm down, the concept of this strategy can be effective when put into use. Providing yourself time to calm down before responding to a situation can help you to see things more clearly and respond in a more appropriate way than letting your anger take control of you.
Other people find that it’s helpful to write out their thoughts when they are feeling angry. This can help them to release the anger instead of stuffing it and not dealing with it.
Work On Getting The Root Of The Problem
Anger is a symptom of another problem. If you want to address your anger issues, you will most likely need to get to the root cause of what is causing your anger. This can differ from person to person.
Some people struggle with anger because of depression, as discussed above. Some deal with anger because they lack the ability to communicate their emotions properly. And, others deal with anger issues because of things like hurt from experiences in their past.
There are so many different instances in a person’s life that can cause them to struggle with anger issues. You may be able to identify where your anger is coming from easily. But many people benefit from working with a therapist to help get to the root cause of their struggle. If you’re unsure of why you’re dealing with anger attacks, talking with a therapist can help you make progress.
There are many benefits to regular exercise in your life. There has been much research conducted on the way exercise can impact both your physical and your mental health.
Exercise releases endorphins in your brain that help boosts your mood. If you struggle with anger regularly, this can be a great benefit to your life. You may also find that exercise helps use up some of the pent-up energy that you have, which may help to release your tension that can lead to anger.
Even something as simple as taking a walk outside can help curb your anger. The fresh air and sunshine are good for you physically and mentally and can help calm you down if you’re starting to feel angry.
Communicate Using “I” Statements
When people respond and speak in anger, it can be easy to say things that you don’t mean or to cross lines that you shouldn’t. Later, when you look back at your conversation, you may have regret over the way that you handled it and the things that you said.
Learning how to use “I” statements when you’re angry can help you to overcome this. An example of this would be instead of saying things like “you did this” and “you did that,” you would say, “I feel this way” or “I think this.” This helps you to communicate what you are experiencing and dealing with without escalating the situation more.
Use Relaxation Techniques
Some people benefit from learning relaxation techniques to address their anger issues. This can include things like practicing yoga regularly or learning mindfulness meditation.
Deep breathing is another strategy that helps some people handle their anger more appropriately. There are several different techniques you can use, such as breathing in through your nose for a slow 4-count, holding your breath for 4 seconds, and slowly exhaling through your mouth for 4 seconds. Then, after 4 seconds, you start the process again.
Meditation and deep breathing can help you shift your thoughts away from what you’re angry about unto something else to help you regain control.
Identify Your Triggers
Learning how to identify your anger triggers is different than learning to identify the root cause of your problem. You may find that certain things escalate your emotions.
For example, some people may struggle more with anger when they are dealing with a lot of noise. If you are already feeling a little stressed and angry and there is a constant noise that is irritating you, it may escalate your anger faster than it would for other people.
When you are aware of what triggers your anger, it can help you to get out in front of it. If you noticed that a trigger is happening, you could remove yourself from the situation. Or, you can prepare yourself to deal with your anger healthily, as discussed above.
Get Professional Help
Negative emotions like anger can be difficult to deal with on your own. It can be something that you’ve struggled with since childhood, which can make it difficult to identify on your own where the struggle is coming from. This is why talking with a therapist can be beneficial.
You may also struggle on your own to come up with good ways to release your anger. A therapist can help you learn effective coping strategies that allow you to process your anger healthily.
Some people also benefit from the use of medication to curb their anger attacks. In this case, it would be necessary for you to talk with your doctor or a psychiatrist about possible prescriptions that can help you gain control of your anger as you learn more effective coping strategies.
Allowing anger to have control in your life can lead to negative situations that you don’t want to experience. Constant anger attacks can ruin relationships, ruin job situations, and make it hard to go through daily life. But you don’t have to continue to live in that. Mental health professionals like the therapists at BetterHelp are available to help you develop effective ways to overcome your anger issues.