What To Do When You Have Anger Issues

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated June 13, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Navigating the complexities of anger can be challenging, but learning to manage this powerful emotion is often vital for fostering healthy relationships and promoting emotional well-being. While there may be many ways to manage anger, the most effective approach usually involves understanding the underlying causes and implementing personalized strategies for managing anger healthily. 

It’s often recommended to work on your emotional intelligence in order to improve your anger management skills. This can involve enhancing your self-control, self-awareness, empathy, and social skills. Mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, and exercise can also be helpful. For more individualized support regarding anger management, consider working with a licensed mental health professional in person or online.

This article explores anger issues and potential strategies that may help individuals control anger to improve their physical and mental health. 

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Understanding anger

Anger, a complex and multifaceted emotion, can be described as an intense emotional response to various situations, such as perceived threats, frustrations, or injustices. The experience of anger may differ from person to person, with variations in intensity, duration, and expression that can range from mild irritation to overwhelming rage.

The purpose of anger

Anger may serve a purpose, acting as a natural response to situations threatening your well-being or sense of fairness. It could alert you to potential problems or conflicts, possibly motivating you to take action and resolve issues. In some instances, anger can even catalyze positive change and growth.

The components of anger

Anger typically comprises several components, which can include the following:

Physiological: When anger is experienced, the body usually undergoes physiological changes, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline release, as part of the body's "fight-or-flight" response.

Cognitive: The cognitive aspect of anger generally involves the thoughts and beliefs contributing to the emotion. These thoughts can include perceptions of threat, injustice, or frustration.

Behavioral: Anger may manifest in various behaviors, including passive-aggressive actions, verbal outbursts, or physical aggression. The behavioral component of anger frequently varies based on personality, coping mechanisms, and cultural background.

Recognizing anger and its various components can be a crucial step toward understanding and effectively managing the emotion. 

Common triggers of anger

Anger may be triggered by a variety of factors, such as those listed below.

  • Unmet expectations

  • Disrespect or humiliation

  • Perceived injustice or unfair treatment

  • Loss of control

  • Physical or emotional pain

  • Frustration

  • Fear or anxiety

  • Rejection or abandonment

By understanding the potential triggers of anger, it may be easier to anticipate and manage this emotion before it escalates out of control.


Signs of unmanaged anger

Unmanaged anger can manifest in several ways:

  • Frequent, intense, or prolonged anger episodes

  • Aggressive behavior, such as verbal or physical outbursts

  • Difficulty maintaining relationships or engaging in social situations

  • Constant negative or critical thoughts

  • Physical symptoms, like headaches or high blood pressure

Potential risks of anger

The American Psychological Association warns that unmanaged anger can lead to significant health risks, including the following: 

  • Accidents

  • Substance use (formerly substance “abuse”)

  • Interpersonal conflicts

  • Property destruction

  • Occupational maladjustment

  • Erratic driving

  • Inappropriate risk-taking

  • So-called crimes of passion

  • Negative evaluations by others

  • High blood pressure 

The mental and physical health risks presented by chronic anger can have long-term consequences, which is part of why health professionals stress the importance of managing it. 

How to effectively manage anger

Several strategies might help manage anger more effectively

Several helpful strategies may help you manage feelings of anger more effectively. You may wish to try a few of the following to discover which is best for you.

Mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness can help you identify the causes of anger and remain present. By practicing meditation, you may develop a greater awareness of your emotions and reactions, potentially leading to better emotional control, even when waking up angry.

Deep breathing

Taking slow, deep breaths can reduce the intensity of anger. Breathing exercises may assist in calming the nervous system, promoting relaxation, and decreasing anger as well.

Cognitive restructuring

This technique usually involves replacing negative thoughts with more balanced, rational ones. Cognitive restructuring can help you reframe your thinking patterns and react more calmly in anger-inducing situations.

Effective communication

Developing effective communication skills can enable you to express your feelings assertively rather than aggressively. By learning to listen and respond respectfully, you can prevent misunderstandings and reduce anger.

Physical activity

Engaging in physical activities, such as jogging or yoga, often helps to release built-up tension and reduce anger levels.

Developing emotional intelligence for improved anger management

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions and those of others. Developing EI could play a crucial role in improving anger management, as it could enable you to become more aware of your emotional responses, empathize with others, and effectively your feelings.

Self-awareness and self-control

Cultivating self-awareness typically involves recognizing and understanding your emotions and identifying triggers that might lead to anger. By developing self-awareness, you may better anticipate and respond to situations that provoke anger. 

Self-control, another vital aspect of EI, normally involves managing emotional responses to prevent them from becoming overwhelming or destructive. Enhancing self-control skills can help you control your anger more effectively, potentially preventing impulsive reactions and promoting healthier coping mechanisms.

Empathy and social skills

Empathy, a core component of EI, is usually defined as the ability to understand and express the feelings of others. By developing empathy, you may better appreciate how your anger might impact those around you, leading to more considerate and compassionate responses. 

Furthermore, honing social skills, such as active listening, assertive communication, and conflict resolution, can improve interpersonal interactions and mitigate anger by addressing misunderstandings or tensions before they escalate.

Strategies for building emotional intelligence

Several approaches can help you develop EI and, in turn, enhance your anger management skills.

  • Practicing mindfulness and reflection to increase self-awareness

  • Setting personal goals for emotional growth and self-improvement

  • Engaging in activities that promote empathy, such as volunteering or supporting others in need

  • Seeking feedback from trusted friends, family, or colleagues to gain insight into one's emotional responses and behavior

By fostering emotional intelligence, you can improve your anger management skills, enrich your relationships, increase your self-confidence, and promote overall emotional well-being.

Benefits of online therapy

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Online therapy, in the context of anger management, usually offers a substantial benefit by providing a safe space to explore your emotions and understand the underlying factors contributing to your anger from the comfort of your own home. With the assistance of a licensed professional, you can gain valuable insights into your thought patterns and emotional responses. This deeper understanding, coupled with the development of personalized coping strategies, can lead to more effective anger management, ultimately enhancing overall emotional health, reducing the negative impact of anger on personal and professional relationships, and fostering a more harmonious life experience.

Effectiveness of online therapy

Online therapy can be an effective form of treatment for a variety of mental health challenges and concerns. A recent study stated that “four weeks of therapy delivered over the internet can help people with anger and aggression.” If you’re interested in getting help with anger management, both online and in-person therapy services may provide the guidance and insight you deserve.

Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp mental health professionals.

Online therapist reviews

“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!”

“Absolutely brilliant! He helped me out of a pretty dark place and was nothing but helpful! For men who are looking for a counselor who understands what it is like to be a man in today's world with a family, kids, and responsibilities, job, etc, I was extremely impressed with his ability to get down to it and understand what I was talking about. He's great at getting to the root of the issue too. No need to slog through 8,000 words to find out what point he's trying to make. He has a knack for asking exactly the right question in about 2-3 sentences. If you're looking for a counselor who isn't the typical counselor, he's your guy!”


Managing anger can be crucial for maintaining healthy relationships and overall well-being. It can be helpful to keep in mind that your goal should not necessarily be to eliminate anger altogether but to manage it in a healthy and constructive way. By recognizing anger triggers and implementing effective strategies, you can achieve a more balanced emotional state. Additionally, fostering emotional intelligence and engaging in therapy will likely be beneficial for your mental health journey. You can start therapy through an online therapy platform or by connecting with a local therapist in person.
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