Chronic Anger And How To Manage It

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis, LCMHC
Updated April 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.
Chronic anger can take a significant toll on your life

Chronic anger is an emotional state in which a person's feelings, conduct, and thoughts are dominated by anger. Unlike other forms of anger, chronic anger tends to be prolonged and does not subside with time. This type of anger can cause significant impairment in daily life. If a person does not find help for chronic anger, it can begin to have adverse physical impacts on the individual's immune and cardiovascular systems and can take a significant toll on the person's mental health and relationships.

Chronic anger is often linked to emotional and mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, borderline personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it’s not necessary to have a mental health condition to experience chronic anger. In addition, alcohol and drug use can contribute to chronic anger, and mental health challenges such as unresolved grief and depression can affect a person’s ability to control negative emotions like anger.

Symptoms of chronic anger

People living with chronic anger tend to be more likely to experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Experiencing frequent arguments with others
  • Having problems with relationships at home, at work, or with friends
  • Emotionally hurting others while angry
  • Feeling regret for saying or doing things while angry
  • Being unwelcome at particular places of business or recreation
  • Becoming physically or verbally abusive

Anger attacks can manifest as outward signs, such as yelling, breaking objects, or driving recklessly. In addition, a person can internalize anger symptoms through behaviors like negative self-talk, acts of self-harm, and denial of basic needs like eating regularly. Anger can also result in passive-aggressive behaviors, such as sulking, being sarcastic, and ignoring others.

It's common to experience anger from time to time, but it can be harmful to be consistently and relentlessly angry. Chronic anger can be a cover for other emotions that are unbearable to the person, such as deep sadness, hopelessness, fear, and despair.

What are the causes of chronic anger?

There is no one cause linked to chronic anger. However, there are a variety of factors and circumstances that can contribute to this condition. For example, repressed experiences of trauma have been linked to chronic anger. In this case, it is not uncommon for individuals to be unaware of why they are angry or to have others urge them to forgive and forget. However, until the person can heal the repressed trauma, displays of chronic anger might continue to affect the person.


Genetics and family behaviors can also have an influence on chronic anger. Individuals who experience chronic anger sometimes have children who also exhibit these symptoms. However, having chronically angry parents does not always mean a child will experience chronic anger. However, the likelihood may increase from a genetic predisposition or learned behavior in the family.

In other situations, chronic anger can be caused by irregularities within the brain. For example, individuals with temporal lobe damage or temporal lobe epilepsy may be more susceptible to chronic anger because the temporal lobe is the area of the brain that controls emotions.

Environmental factors may also play a role in chronic anger. For example, a person who grows up around chronically angry individuals, even if they are not relatives, may be more likely to develop symptoms of chronic anger than someone who grows up in a different environment. The susceptibility to chronic anger also tends to increase considerably for people who experience physical punishment. However, not everyone who grows up in a toxic environment develops chronic anger later in life. 

Chronic anger and physical health

Chronic anger can be detrimental to a person’s relationships and can also significantly affect their physical health. In one study, researchers at Harvard University examined 1,305 older adult men, rating their level of chronic anger and comparing it to their cardiovascular health over a period of seven years. The researchers controlled for lifestyle factors, such as smoking, diet, and chronic diseases like high blood pressure so that they could focus on the effects of chronic anger on heart health. None of the study participants had heart disease at the start of the study, but 110 developed this disease during the seven-year study. The results showed that the men with the most significant chronic anger had a threefold higher rate of developing cardiovascular disease.

Another Harvard study examined the effects of a single outburst of extreme anger on the incidence of having a heart attack. The researchers questioned 1,623 patients who had a heart attack within the previous week, finding that intensive anger “was clearly dangerous for the heart, more than doubling the risk of heart attack if the emotion took place in the two hours previous to the heart attack.” These and similar studies confirm that chronic anger can be life-threatening, which increases the urgency of learning to manage this problem. 

How to manage chronic anger

A person experiencing chronic anger may have a tendency to lash out at others, and they may isolate themselves afterward or preemptively in order to avoid social consequences. These reactions can prevent them from enjoying a positive or fulfilling lifestyle. Being chronically angry can cause a loss of opportunities, friendships, and beneficial experiences. Moreover, if chronic rage remains ongoing for too long, it can even lead to legal trouble.

For these reasons, learning to manage chronic anger can make a significant difference in a person’s well-being. With the right tools, a person may be capable of managing symptoms of anger effectively. Below are some steps a person might take to get anger under control.

Be aware of triggers

Chronic rage is often triggered by certain people, situations, places, or scenarios. Being aware and mindful of these triggers may make a difference because the first step of managing chronic anger typically involves knowing what causes it. Once a person identifies triggers, they can attempt to make lifestyle changes to eliminate the sources of anger.

Engage in a healthy lifestyle

Chronic anger can take a significant toll on your life

An unhealthy lifestyle can make managing anger and other negative emotions more difficult. Staying healthy typically involves eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and avoiding excessive drug and alcohol use. It can be challenging to make changes in lifestyle, but doing so may play a valuable role in gaining control of chronic anger.

Discover a healthy outlet

Discovering a healthy outlet for chronic anger can be another effective management technique. Some people believe that bottling up anger or pretending it is not there may make it go away, but this is often not true. Repressing anger can sometimes lead it to come out in a more harmful way. Finding a healthy outlet for emotions can be helpful both to you and to those around you. Healthy outlets may include writing in a journal, creating artwork, exercising, meditating, practicing deep breathing techniques, and talking to a trusted friend or therapist.

Therapy for chronic anger

If you’re experiencing difficulty with chronic anger, a therapist may be able to help you understand and learn to control chronic anger. Mental health professionals use many treatment approaches for helping people overcome chronic anger, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), deep breathing and relaxation techniques, exposure therapy, and anger management training programs.

A recent Swedish study revealed that online anger management therapy was highly effective in helping people overcome chronic anger. The study’s authors stated that people with chronic anger often feel ashamed of their condition, which may make it more difficult for them to seek in-person treatment. The researchers found that just four weeks of treatment helped to reduce anger problems.

In another study, researchers examined the efficacy of online therapy on problematic anger. Researchers concluded that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) effectively reduced anger in participants. These findings align with a large number of studies pointing to online therapy as a valubale method for treating symptoms stemming from a variety of mental health conditions that can underlie chronic anger, such as depression, substance use disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

With online therapy, you can connect with a therapist without having to commute to an office or sit in a waiting room. You can communicate with a licensed therapist through audio, video, live chat, or a combination of these methods. In addition, you can send your therapist a message any time through in-app messaging, and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. A qualified online therapist may be able to guide you to better mental health and decreased anger.

Below are some reviews of online counselors at BetterHelp.

Counselor reviews

“I'm happy I had counseling with Glenn. I used to struggle with anger and trust issues towards my husband when I first talked to Glenn. He listened to me attentively and asked questions delicately and politely. I felt that he cared about my case and really wanted to help me. And he did help me solve my relationship problems. Glenn taught me to forgive, manage conflicts, and express and receive love. Now I enjoy my close and intimate relationship with my loved one, and there's no place for anger and hate in me any more. Finally I feel understood, supported, happy and calm. And I'm so thankful to Glenn for guiding me there.”

“Regina helped me pinpoint where my anger issue stemmed from in the very first session, and has been helping me become more self aware of my warning triggers. Very insightful and helpful!”


Chronic anger can be detrimental to personal relationships and dangerous for your health. Ongoing anger can be caused by an underlying mental health condition like PTSD or depression, or it can stem from learned behavior in childhood. If you’re experiencing chronic anger, you don’t have to face it alone. With online therapy, you can be matched with a therapist who has experience helping people overcome chronic anger. Take the first step toward freedom from anger and reach out to BetterHelp today.
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