How To Identify And Address Anger Issues

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated July 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

While anger occurs naturally, it's important to identify and manage it properly, especially for people who may have an angry reaction. Physiological signs such as elevated blood pressure and tightness in your chest, as well as mental symptoms like anxiety and irritability, can indicate a problem. If you're feeling upset, pay attention to your emotions, voice, and especially your palms, as they may show physical signs of anger. Consider taking an online self-assessment or seeking help from a mental health professional to address any issues, including depression. 

Identifying anger is the first step in managing it, and physiological signs like a faster heart rate or muscle tension can help. Utilizing cognitive restructuring, humor, and breaks from triggering situations that make you mad can also help you manage anger. Online therapy may also be useful for addressing the root of anger issues and developing healthy coping strategies.

Want to gain more control over your anger?

Is it wrong to feel angry?

Anger can be a healthy emotion. Reasonable anger can give you the energy to fight for a noble cause or hang on when times are tough. Feeling angry may not be wrong in and of itself. It is what you do with that feeling that may cause problems, whether at work, in a relationship, or in other situations. 

The way you think about and express your anger can make the difference between having a happy, fulfilling life and having a life that may feel out of control. If you realize you aren’t handling your anger well, it can be possible to develop healthier methods of coping with this emotion.

Deciding to explore your anger problems

If anger is a problem for you, you may already know it. However, some people don’t realize the extent of their problem until a loved one points it out. They may find that they have trouble forming or maintaining healthy relationships, or they might get into physical fights that cause themselves or others bodily injury. Their unchecked anger could even land them in legal trouble.

Two ways to begin exploring the nature and extent of your anger problems could be to know the most common symptoms of anger and to take an anger problems test. These are simple, non-threatening tasks that can start you on the path toward effective, lifelong anger management.

Symptoms of anger

Some of the symptoms of unmanaged anger can be very physical.

  • A tingling sensation in your body
  • A feeling of tightness in your chest
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Sinus pressure
  • Elevated blood pressure

Other symptoms can be psychological and emotional.

  • Anger
  • Rage
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Feeling a need to isolate yourself

It may be helpful to notice that what we tend to think of as anger is only one emotional symptom of the condition. Many people may be surprised to discover that anxiety can come directly from an anger issue. Irritable people may not think of themselves as angry, but simply as grumpy.

If you have any of these physical or emotional symptoms, taking an anger problem quiz might be a logical first step toward freeing yourself from the intensity and pain of your angry feelings. It can also set you on a path to learning how to manage your anger more healthily so that you can live a more productive and peaceful life.

Quizzes and tests to assess your anger

There are two main types of anger problem tests that you may wish to take. One is a screening quiz that can help you look at your level of anger to decide what you should do next. The other is typically administered by a professional to determine your exact anger problems and how serious they are.

Self-assessment anger quizzes

A quiz that screens for anger management problems is generally easy to fill out and can be completed in a few short minutes. These quizzes are often available online. Some may be free, while others may come with a fee. You might also download free anger tests that you can print, fill out, and score for yourself according to the directions given with the test.

Anger quizzes typically pose fictional situations and ask you to rate how angry each one would make you feel. Other questions might be about the behaviors you typically engage in when you feel angry. These tests are usually for screening only and should not be relied on for a final judgment or diagnosis.

Clinical anger management tests

If you decide to seek help for your anger, a licensed counselor may have you complete a more detailed anger test to pinpoint your problem areas more accurately. The therapist may also do an interview-style test to not only hear your answers but also to observe your responses to the questions. The goal is generally for them to get a clearer picture of how you express your anger so they can help you overcome any issues.

One test often used by therapists is the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI-2). This is not a free test, but therapists typically have it on hand to use during your first session. The STAXI-2 is a paper and pencil test that your therapist may give you and score by hand. It may only take about 10 minutes to fill out the test, which can be considered accurate for anyone between the ages of 16 and 63. The test has 57 questions that measure your State of Anger, which is the emotional feeling of being angry, and your Trait of Anger, which is related to how anger plays a part in your personality. It can measure the intensity of your anger and how often you express it.

However, no anger problems test can give a complete picture of your anger and how it affects you and those around you. It is likely only one part of the assessment a therapist will use to decide what types of help to offer you.

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Strategies to manage anger issues

Please know that anger does not have to negatively impact your relationships and your life. It’s possible to learn to manage your anger so that it no longer controls your thoughts and behavior. Here are some ways in which a therapist might help you to practice better anger management. You may also be able to use some of these management techniques on your own.

Learn what makes you angry 

A little self-examination can go a long way in overcoming anger. Knowing the specific types of things that make you angry can give you a chance to prepare to react differently the next time they happen.

Utilize cognitive restructuring

Cognitive restructuring often involves finding a new way to think about things that make you angry. For instance, if you become enraged when someone cuts you off in traffic, you might have thoughts that the person did it intentionally, that getting cut off ruined your drive, or that these things always happen to you. 

In cognitive restructuring, you may take apart those thoughts and replace them with new thoughts of how anyone can make a mistake, how getting cut off was just one small part of your day, or how this type of thing happens to everyone sometimes.

One study found that cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, can be helpful for those experiencing issues with anger, and another study reported that online CBT could be as effective as traditional in-person CBT. You may find that working with an online therapist helps you learn to manage your anger in more constructive ways that benefit your mental health and life.

Use humor

You can use humor to relieve some of your feelings of anger. After all, many of the things that humans get angry about can be absurd once you examine them less emotionally. Sarcasm may be associated with anger, but silly humor can bring a smile or a laugh that defuses your anger.

Embrace calm

You can learn to become calm and focused in various ways, such as practicing meditation and doing breathing exercises. This may help you let the angry thoughts pass through your mind as you notice them but avoid dwelling on them. It can take practice, but it may be worth the effort. Another calming technique could be doing a muscle relaxation exercise by tightening each muscle group individually for a short time and then releasing the tension. Spending time in nature can also be calming.

Take a break

You may not have to stay in an anger-provoking situation until it is resolved. You can often step back and take a break from it. Typically, once out of the situation, people begin to calm down and can handle it more constructively when they return.

Communicate anger appropriately

Anger can be a normal and expected part of the human experience. Still, many people express their anger in ways that can be inappropriate and ineffective. When you feel angry with someone, you might tell them, "I’m feeling angry, and I’m going to step away for a moment," instead of calling the person names, belittling them, or striking out at them physically.

Be assertive, not aggressive

Poor anger management often results in aggressive words and behaviors. It will likely benefit you to learn how to state your case strongly and reasonably. It can be healthy to expect others to treat you well and to be firm in expressing what is important to you. Still, it is often best to remain cognizant of the feelings and safety of those around you.

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Want to gain more control over your anger?

Make a plan for managing your anger

Your anger management plan can be as detailed as it needs to be. You can identify anger-provoking situations and people and decide how you will manage your anger when you are confronted by them.


Experiencing anger can be healthy and normal. However, if you express anger in ways that can harm others or yourself, it may be necessary to find ways to manage that anger more healthily. If you experience problems with anger, you might notice emotional symptoms like irritability and anxiety as well as physical symptoms like headaches and elevated blood pressure. Online self-assessments or therapist-administered clinical tests may help to determine whether your anger is problematic. Managing anger can be possible through humor, cognitive restructuring, learning about what makes you angry, creating a plan for handling anger, taking breaks from situations that can be angering, and being assertive rather than aggressive. You may also wish to seek the help of a licensed therapist through online therapy.
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