Why Am I Always Angry? 5 Reasons Why…
By Sarah Fader
Updated August 24, 2019
Reviewer Kelly L. Burns, MA, LPC, ATR-P
Are you easily irritated or frustrated, and find yourself feeling angry more often than you probably should? If so, then you are like millions of people who deal with anger issues. Anger is a natural reaction that tells us when something isn't right. When experienced in excess, however, unresolved anger can result in health problems including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. It's important to deal with anger in a healthy way before it can harm you or those you love. This article will cover different reasons for anger, and tools you can use to help manage your anger in a healthy and productive way.
Why Am I Always Angry?
Anger can be caused by many different things and can be triggered by a wide variety of circumstances depending on the individual. Some reasons for anger may include:
- Being disrespected or treated unfairly
- Feeling violated, threatened or attacked
- Being frightened or physically harmed
- Being interrupted when you are trying to achieve a goal
- Feeling powerless or hopeless
- High levels of stress or anxiety
- Lack of sleep
We will cover these reasons in more detail, and how to respond to them, later in the article.
How to Treat Anger
People can suffer from excessive anger for a variety of reasons, and often struggle to regulate their emotions and control potential angry outbursts. Many individuals who suffer from unexplained anger are unsure what causes their anger or how to fix it.
While over a third of people know someone, who has difficulty controlling anger, there are tools that many people use to successfully control their volatile emotions, and deal with feelings of anger in a positive way. Treatments for anger can include lifestyle changes like physical exercise, recognizing and responding to anger triggers, medication prescribed by a doctor, therapy to help understand and control extreme emotions, and meditation.
How Do We Show Anger?
In addition to experiencing anger differently, people may express anger in very different ways. Some people might "snap" or lash out verbally when they feel angry, while others might keep their emotions close to the chest. Common expressions of anger may include:
- Shouting and yelling
- Swearing, name-calling, and making threats
- Lashing out physically, hitting objects, people or animals
- Ignoring people
- Becoming distant or quiet
- Inflicting self-harm
Excessive anger can be caused by a variety of circumstances. While everyone's different, there are three common, everyday reasons for anger.
Your Current Situation: If you are dealing with a stressful situation, it's normal to experience feelings of anger or frustration. Especially when dealing with prolonged stress and anxiety, it can be difficult to control your emotions. It's important that you know your feelings are valid. If you find that your anger is getting in the way of a productive day, or your relationships with others, however, then you may benefit from managing your anger in a healthy way.
Your Family History: As a child and young adult, you may have learned unhealthy or unproductive ways to deal with anger from your parents, guardians or other family members who were a part of your upbringing. Recognizing this is a crucial first step to responding to anger triggers in a different way, such as going for a run or a walk, journaling, or listening to music.
Past Events: If you have experienced traumatic or stressful events, it's normal to feel residual fear and anger. Traumatic events can have a lasting impact on your mental health, and you may not always realize the ways in which they're affecting your current behavior. A therapist can help you recognize how past events affect your mood today and offer guidance in healing from these events.
Anger vs. Aggression: What's the Difference?
While anger and aggression may be similar, there are some important differences between the two terms. Anger is an emotion, while aggression describes the violet or assertive behavior that sometimes accompanies anger. While the two often go together, not everyone who feels angry is aggressive, and not everyone who acts aggressively is motivated by anger. If you find that your anger leads to aggression, try finding a healthy outlet such as working out or kickboxing.
Reasons Why You Might Be Angry
Now that you have a better understanding of what anger is and how it is experienced, here are five common reasons that may be causing your anger:
Concern is one of the most common causes of anger. Whether you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, concern and even fear can provoke intense anger under certain circumstances. If you think that your feelings of anger might come from a place of concern, consider what the source of your strong emotions might be.
Anger Answer: So, examine where your concerns are coming from. It may be time to ask yourself why you might feel afraid or what scares you most. Try writing out your concerns. Are there any steps you could take to address them? For example, if you're worried about your partner going on a trip abroad, communicate your concerns with your partner in an open, honest, and gentle way. Once you have faced your fears, you will not only feel proud of yourself, but you will notice your feelings of anger begin to fade.
Another common cause of anger is powerlessness. This feeling is often associated with a loss of control and feelings of helplessness. If you're suffering from issues with your health, struck in an abusive relationship, or even just feeling trapped, you might feel especially angry.
Anger Answer: Whenever you find yourself feeling powerless, remind yourself, "I am responsible for my own life. I am worthy of respect as I am. My skills and abilities have brought me here today, and I can use them to deal with this negative situation in a healthy way. I'm going to go on a run to cool down, and then I'll come back to this situation with a clear head." If you have a health issue and are frustrated with having to deal with it, then try to be proactive in learning about your condition and how to treat it or live with it, or find ways to leave an abusive situation. If you feel like you are losing control in your own life, then you may want to consider seeking professional help or guidance on how to make changes.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 40 million adults in the United States alone suffer from anxiety, about eighteen percent of the total population. Although anxiety and anger might seem like two different mental health issues, they are often deeply intertwined. Those who suffer from anxiety often feel overwhelmed, and experience out-of-control emotional reactions. When faced with challenging circumstances, people with anxiety may try to express their stress and frustration through anger.
Anger Answer: The good news is that there are some positive treatment methods for dealing with anxiety. Some ways to deal with anxiety healthily include seeking professional help, engaging in enjoyable activities, reducing stressors in your life, getting a pet, trying medication under the guidance of a professional, or meditation.
4. Past Events
A traumatic or painful experience can have lasting effects, even if you think you've moved on from the event. Memories of past trauma can trigger anxiety, frustration, and even angry outbursts. In order to properly resolve past trauma, it's always a good idea to seek the help of a professional. Counseling services can help you navigate negative emotions, control excessive anger, and develop strategies for coping with painful or triggering circumstances.
Anger Answer: The next time you find yourself getting angry about something, stop and take a minute to reflect on the situation before you react. Think: "What about this situation is making me angry?" "What does this situation remind me of?" This will help you to better understand the source of your anger and how to deal with your emotions appropriately.
Grief is another common cause of anger. Grief can be an overwhelming emotion that is often associated with hardship, pain, and personal loss. Grief can stem from the death of friends, loved ones, partners, family members, or even a pet. Grief can also be caused by other hardships including professional or personal disappointment, the loss of a job, physical injury, or even current events.
When you're overwhelmed by grief, it can quickly turn towards anger. Grieving people are often frustrated by the cruelty and unfairness of the world, angry that a future they had envisioned is no longer possible, and upset with people who aren't able to understand and sympathize with their suffering.
Anger Answer: Although it is normal to experience anger with grief, anger can become out of control if not dealt with properly. When grieving, it can be harmful to dwell on negative emotions and intense anger, and can even hinder the grieving and healing process. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to feel the grief, so that you may begin the healing process.
How BetterHelp Can Help
Types of Anger
In addition to learning the reasons why you feel angry or have anger issues, it's important to know about the types of anger as well. This can help you control your anger, find the warning signs before it's too late, and help you find a therapist who deals in your specific type of anger. Let's get started.
For many, this is the worst type of anger that needs anger management as soon as possible. Someone who is physically angry may break things around them or attack the person who they feel wronged them.
This obviously leads to problems. For one, you can get arrested for attacking someone or destroying someone else's property. You don't have to punch someone, either. Just putting your hand on someone and breaking their personal boundaries may get you in trouble.
Your anger outbursts can be seen as terrifying, or turn you into a laughingstock should you attack an object like punching a hole in the wall.
Sometimes, physical anger is a sort of fight or flight response to a perceived danger. In our primitive years, when we were faced with a danger such as a warring tribe or an animal, we either fought it, or we ran away. With running away, the flight mechanic is more present in anxiety, panic attacks, and escaping from our troubles. Our anger is linked to our primitive selves some capacities.
While a mental illness may explain it, it doesn't excuse physical anger. If you have physical anger, it's important you learn relaxation techniques for your mental disorder. Find a psychiatrist or a therapist who can help you identify certain triggers, give you medicine to calm you down, or teach you anger management techniques such as stress balls.
If you believe you have a mental health condition, do a bit of research. There are plenty of health A-Z guides that can list conditions. These health A-Z guides aren't a substitute for a doctor's diagnosis, but can give you an idea and something to discuss when you do seek a doctor.
Sometimes, we become angry due to stress, and we may express it through panic attacks or by taking our anger out on our source of stress. For example, if a computer is giving you a hard time, you may hit it.
Stress is our body's way of responding to an issue, and some stress is good for you. However, too much stress is a mental disorder in of its own. This is often because our body responds to "first world problems" the same way it would an actual danger. When you're overwhelmed, it can lead to various medical or psychological problems such as sleep disorders, enhancing other issues like bipolar disorder, and lead to other mental health conditions.
In a case like this, you need more than anger management. You need to learn how to manage your stress. Here are some ways to do so:
- Don't deal with it if it's too much to handle. Don't accept the overtime when you're overwhelmed, for example.
- You may need to treat your other mental illnesses before handling stress. Look into bipolar, anxiety, or depression treatment methods. Your mental illness may make handling your stress worse. For example, bipolar disorder. With bipolar disorder, you may feel too depressed to handle your stress, or spend your mania doing other things that make you feel comfortable and happy.
This is anger towards an injustice or someone else who is doing something you think is affecting others.
In the Internet age, judgmental anger is a big anger problem. Don't get us wrong; being angry at an injustice is a good thing. When a bunch of angry people express their anger over a political issue, there may be some change, for example.
Because it's so much easier to pay attention to the world around you, judgmental anger happens a lot. But you need to learn to deal with your anger if you want to make progress. Here are some problems with judgmental anger:
- Dehumanizing the "other side." You see this a lot in the conservative vs. liberal spectrum, especially in today's political climate. Someone may see the other party as someone who is a monster and who isn't even worth talking to. Quite often, you're angry at people you've never met, and you're constantly berating them. When it comes to politics, you may be surprised that if you sit down and have a conversation with "the other side," you may realize you have a lot of common ground.
- In addition, it's easy for people to use judgmental anger against you. Few people read the full story; just the headline. In an age where everyone is feeling impatient, many don't get the full story and may be angry at something that has more to it than you think.
- Again, the problem with judgmental anger is that it sometimes doesn't come up with any solutions. Being a politically angry man or angry woman may not be a bad thing, but when it's uncontrolled anger without any anger management, you can't come up with any solutions to the problems.
This is one of those problems you may want to speak to a therapist about. Also, curtailing your social media use without destroying your social life completely may work. In addition, always try to find all the facts about the story before you act out.
Passive Aggressive Anger
This type of anger is one that you may have heard about, and yet you may not know what it is. The phrase "passive-aggressive" is used quite a lot, and misused too. Essentially, this is when you handle anger by being avoidant and using other ways to express it. Sometimes, it's because you want to keep the peace. For example, you're angry at your best friend, but you don't want to confront them outright, so you express your anger in a way they may not notice.
Passive-aggressive anger may come in many different forms. It's an anger problem that may not seem too bad, but it may still cause issues. Examples include:
- Passive-aggressive language. One way someone with passive-aggressive anger problems may express their anger is by their language. If you're asked to take out the trash when you're in the middle of watching TV, you may say "I was watching TV, but I'd love to take out the trash." Sometimes, the tone of your voice can tell the other person you feel angry, but that's not always the case.
- Your actions may be passive-aggressive too. If you're told to do something you don't want to, you control your anger by deliberately making mistakes or procrastinating. Again, this is something that a person may pick up on and realize you're feeling angry, but this is not always the case.
- Passive-aggressiveness is an anger problem that can lead to you getting in trouble. People don't like it when you can't be confrontational and instead try to drop hints you're angry. Instead of being passive-aggressive, you may need to learn how to control your anger through other methods.
When someone expresses their anger primarily through their words, this is known as verbal anger.
Some people may see this as a less significant anger problem. Many people think that if one can settle their anger through their words and not their fists, it's a good thing. Indeed, it can be. When one person has wronged you, it can be nice to give them a verbal thrashing.
However, verbal anger is misused often and can be dangerous to someone who can't manage anger. Someone who is angry all the time may take it out on their spouse or loved one. Ridicule, threats, and yelling are just a few examples of toxic verbal anger, and it's a sign of an anger problem that needs to be addressed.
Emotional abuse is no joke. Someone who is emotionally abused by a verbally angry person may have low self-esteem and fear others. Someone who is verbally angry, meanwhile, may not realize just how much their words hurt, and how they need to learn how to manage anger better.
With proper anger management, verbal anger can be turned into something that's a force for good. For example, if your spouse makes you angry, learning ways to control your anger and turn it into a solution is a good thing.
What do we mean by this? Say your spouse made you upset. One of the best anger management techniques you can do is to explain how it hurt you. Don't use accusatory language or try to guilt trip, but instead express your emotions. This can help the person who you're angry at realize they've done something wrong, and it can be easier to find a solution. This is a great force for good more people need to practice.
Do you or someone you know seem to have a short fuse? Meaning that if something makes you angry, it's usually sudden and because of something small? You may have volatile anger.
Volatile anger is a tough form of anger in the sea of anger problems. Someone with volatile anger doesn't necessarily have to be angry all the time; sometimes, the anger seems to happen all at once.
People may feel like they have to walk on eggshells to be around you to avoid your anger and aggression, and having volatile anger can end your relationships and friendships. Plus, having extreme anger at the small issues isn't good for your blood pressure and can lead to heart disease.
Someone with volatile anger may not be aware they have it and they don't feel bad about it, or they do and they feel bad every time they lose their temper. Sometimes, volatile anger may be something such as autism, where certain things can overstimulate you, and you let out your angry feelings and your overwhelmed emotions via a meltdown.
It's important that if you have volatile anger, you learn some anger management techniques to lessen those angry feelings. While the anger may seem sudden, there are often triggers that may cause your anger. By learning the triggers, you can avoid them, or learn to control your anger should they arise.
If you're volatile, seek help. While you shouldn't feel shame at your anger, you should try to control your anger problem as soon as you can.
This anger problem is one of the most common. It's being angry at people who have wronged you. Quite often in life, we are wronged. Sometimes, it's something petty, such as someone forgetting to clean up after themselves. Other times, it's something major, such as someone stealing from you, ruining your relationship, or one-upping you at work.
It's one of the oldest story tropes in the books, and that's because it's based on a common human theme. You've probably loved movies, shows, or books, about a young man or young woman who is wronged, then gets revenge. It's just so satisfying, but in real life, it can be a problem.
Retaliatory anger can lead to thoughts and feelings of revenge, and you may wonder if you need anger management for it. Attacking someone who wronged you can lead to repercussions.
However, if you know how to control your anger and use it for something productive, being a bit retaliatory can be good. For example, an employee who wronged you at work gives you the motivation to work harder.
With that said, it's important you speak to a therapist if you feel angry all the time at the people who wronged you. They can help you control your anger and use it for something good.
Angry At Yourself
This type of anger response is one that can have some serious consequences. Self-anger is when you have done something you regret, and you take it out on yourself. It's another type of anger that can be good when used correctly.
For example, having self-awareness that you did something wrong is a skill many lack, and if you try to make changes to improve your life, it can be a great little teachable moment. The problem is that few people have proper anger control.
When one feels angry all the time at themselves, they may take it out in some negative ways. They may express their anger by:
- Abusing substances. Someone may consume alcohol or other drugs as a way to drown out their anger or punish themselves. Abusing substances doesn't just mean drugs or alcohol, either. Someone may develop eating disorders as a coping mechanism. They may try binge eating, or not eating anything at all. Both binge eating and anorexic eating disorders can harm your body. If you're binge eating or avoiding food, speak to a therapist immediately.
- Someone who is angry all the time at themselves may self-harm. Self-harm comes in many ways. It can come in taking drugs, as mentioned, or one may attack their anger problem by hitting themselves or by cutting. In extreme cases, suicide may happen. Aggression begets more aggression, so this is rarely the solution.
- Ongoing anger at one's self can be good if the person has a solution to improve one's self. A therapist can help you formulate a plan to improve, and be able to help you reach the goals no matter what.
Repressed anger involves you bottling up your anger because you don't want to express it, or don't know how to. With repressed anger, you often keep it bottled up until it's too much, and then you may let some out on an innocent party.
For someone who is a victim of this, they may think you have mental disorders that are causing your unexplained anger, or believe that you're dangerous.
Repressed anger is especially common in households or societies where you may be taught that it's bad to express your emotions. This is a toxic way of viewing the world and it can lead to various issues. It's important that if you know someone who believes this, you should teach them other ways of managing their anger.
Seek family therapy if there is a family issue. Get help for any mental disorders you may have. Talk to support groups. Repressing one's anger is never a good thing, and it just leads to you possibly hurting everyone who loves you.
When you're overwhelmed by feelings of anger, it can often feel as if there's no appropriate outlet to channel your frustration and negative emotions. If you're not sure where to turn or how to express your anger in a healthy manner, BetterHelp can help. Our online therapy services can help you to understand yourself, control your emotions, and improve your mental health. An online therapist can provide medical and therapeutic solutions to any anger issues or mental disorders you may have, and being able to get help online is just one of the many support groups you should implement for anger. Therapists can give advice, diagnosis assistance, and be a stone in your overall mental health foundation.
Whether you just need someone to talk to, or are looking for advice for managing your anger, the licensed professionals at BetterHelp can talk you through your options, discuss the circumstances surrounding your anger, and suggest coping strategies to help better handle intense emotions. You can take advantage of the benefits of therapy from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
Rachel's help has been instrumental during one of the toughest periods in my life. Rachel is an excellent listener and is able to facilitate productive therapy sessions while still allowing for enough space to come to your own conclusions. I would recommend Rachel to anyone who needs to methodically analyze a tough situation."
"Wonderful, insightful, delightful! Kelly has been a great help in solving my mental health issues. She was very easy to talk to, she listened effectively and asked some very thought provoking questions, which really helped me challenge my negative thinking. Also, she has given me practical advice which I have applied to my life, with much success, and plan to use the techniques in the future. I highly recommend Kelly if you are in need of someone to help you through those dark times."
Control Your Anger Before It Controls You - and Your Life
When left unresolved, anger can cause more problems. It can cause issues with work, personal and professional relationships, family, physical wellbeing, and mental health. People suffering from excessive anger can often develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and drugs, which can further exacerbate symptoms of excessive anger, and can lead to mental health issues in their own right. While dealing with anger may be challenging, it's important to learn how to manage negative emotions in order to lead a happy and healthy life.
Everyone experiences anger differently, and may find success with a variety of different coping mechanisms. Here are some ways to help get a better handle on anger:
- Learn your anger "triggers" and attempt to avoid them in the future.
- Be aware of early warning signs of anger, and try to mitigate them.
- Focus on yourself and avoid blaming other people.
- Make a plan for dealing with anger and avoiding situations that are likely to provoke an angry reaction.
- Take a break from whatever is causing you anger or frustration.
- Practice controlled breathing in order to calm your body and mind.
- Seek the help of a professional.
- Ask for assistance from family and friends.
Are you struggling with feelings of frustration and anger? BetterHelp's diverse selection of online therapy services can help you navigate complicated emotions and improve your mental health. Get in touch with us today to learn more.