How Are Anxiety And Anger Connected?

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Anxiety and anger often go hand in hand, but in general, we're still trying to understand the exact nature of their relationship. For example, while an anxious person might become angry when threatened or overwhelmed with stress, an enraged individual may experience highly distressing outbursts due to the frustration caused by a lack of control. It can be helpful to understand the root causes of these emotions, as well as any potential triggers, so that we can effectively manage our feelings and employ effective coping strategies. A licensed therapist can help you with this process.

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Did you know anxiety can lead to anger?

Anxiety and anger

Anxiety and anger are generally two emotions that can exist together or independently. Many of us may experience anxiety sometimes, particularly during a stressful event, and anger can often follow.

Studies have suggested that those who experience higher levels of anxiety tend to use their anger as a coping mechanism. However, during instances of high levels of both feelings, such as interpersonal conflicts or distressful events, the individual may react in ways that are out of character due to their inability to cope.

Psychological processes

One of the main psychological processes that can contribute to our emotional experiences may be perception. This typically refers to the way we see and interpret the world around us. For example, if we perceive a situation as being dangerous, we may feel fear or anxiety. Alternatively, if we see a situation as exciting, we may feel more positive emotions, like happiness or excitement. 

Memory may be another necessary psychological process that can influence our emotions. This is likely because our emotions are often based on past experiences stored in our memory.

For example, if we have had a bad experience with dogs in the past, we may feel fear or anxiety when we see a dog in the present. Alternatively, if we have had good experiences with dogs, we may feel happiness or excitement when we see a dog in the present. 

Finally, learning can also play a role in how we experience emotion. This may be because what we learn can shape how we perceive and remember situations.

If we learn that dogs are dangerous animals, we may be more likely to feel fear or anxiety when we see a dog in the future. Alternatively, if we learn that dogs are friendly animals, we may be more likely to feel happiness or excitement when we see a dog in the future. 

Biological processes 

In addition to psychological processes, several biological processes can contribute to our emotional experiences. One of these may be hormones.

In general, hormones are chemicals our bodies produce that can influence our moods and behaviors. For example, the hormone cortisol is often called the "stress hormone" because it can make us feel anxious. Similarly, the hormone oxytocin is often called the "love hormone" because it can make us feel happy and close to others. 

Another essential biological component that can influence our emotions may be neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters can be defined as chemicals our brains produce that send messages between nerve cells.

Some neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, are often called "feel-good" neurotransmitters because they can make us feel happy and relaxed. On the other hand, some neurotransmitters, like adrenaline and cortisol, are often referred to as "stress" neurotransmitters because they can make us feel anxious or stressed out. 

In addition to hormones and neurotransmitters, genetics can also play a role in how we experience emotion. This may be because certain genes have been linked to specific emotional states.

One gene that has been linked to happiness may be the serotonin transporter gene (SERT). People with this gene tend to be more resistant to stress and anxiety and more likely to experience positive emotions like happiness and joy. 

Recognizing what triggers your emotions

Understanding the triggers of your emotions can be beneficial in managing difficult situations. For example, reflecting on why certain events or stimuli can provoke anxiety or anger and how to respond can be helpful.

For instance, identifying that hearing someone speak with a condescending tone causes us to experience anger could enable us to recognize this immediately when it arises in a situation and pre-emptively take steps to ensure we respond constructively. 

In addition, awareness of our emotional triggers can help us find healthier responses, potentially lessening the likelihood of further escalating negative emotions. For example, recognizing that we become frustrated when we feel unheard or unappreciated can help us prioritize communication and self-care.

Overall, taking note of the psychological and biological processes that contribute to emotions can be beneficial in helping us understand our feelings and identify healthy ways to manage them. 

Coping strategies

Effective coping strategies can be essential in managing one's emotions. One key strategy may be to accept your feelings and create a safe space for yourself to confront them. Acceptance can allow for further reflection on what triggers your emotions and learning how to identify and better process your feelings.

Additionally, it can be essential to take the time to connect with others and build supportive relationships. Engaging in meaningful social activities can provide the opportunity to build trust and spend quality time with others, which can help you when managing emotions.

Finally, allowing yourself space and understanding can be an invaluable and productive way of helping you manage your emotions. Nurturing self-awareness, being kind to oneself, and allowing time for relaxing activities may ultimately enable you to develop valuable coping skills.

Processing your feelings

It can be highly beneficial to take the time to process your feelings to build understanding and self-awareness. This can take many forms, such as writing or reflecting on experiences or emotions, taking time away from a situation to gain clarity or perspective, and engaging in mindfulness activities, such as yoga or meditation.

During this process, individuals can create space to gain insight into why they are feeling what they are feeling and build self-knowledge regarding how to respond in these situations. Taking the time to process your feelings often provides an opportunity for deeper insight and understanding into yourself, which can help with coping mechanisms, facing challenging emotions, developing empathy for oneself and others, and increasing resilience.

Did you know anxiety can lead to anger?

Seeking professional help

Seeking professional help to manage your emotions can be beneficial in times of difficulty and stress. Professional providers, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists, are normally equipped with the skills and expertise needed to identify underlying issues that manifest emotion-related distress and provide evidence-based treatments to help individuals control their feelings.

Furthermore, research has suggested that these services can directly affect an individual’s mental health outcomes and well-being. Ultimately, it can be crucial to recognize the value of being proactive regarding emotional control. Professional help is often available for those who need it and may be a critical factor in mitigating future mental health difficulties.

Online therapy for anxiety and anger

Online therapy has generally become a beneficial form of mental health support for those struggling with anxiety and anger. It usually offers the same efficacy as in-person sessions, allowing patients to identify triggers, practice mindfulness techniques, and develop coping strategies.

Recent research studies have shown that online therapy can help people find relief from unpleasant symptoms related to their conditions. Additionally, online therapy typically provides flexibility for people who cannot easily travel to an in-person therapy office or prefer the convenience and safe space of treatment from home.

Takeaway

Anxiety and anger can be common emotions that many of us struggle to manage. Without understanding the root cause, our psychology, biology, and external triggers, it can be difficult to control our reactions to these strong feelings. We may need to process these feelings, understand why we experience them, and utilize coping strategies such as taking deep breaths. Working with an online therapist can also be helpful in developing personalized emotion management strategies.

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