Identifying Anger Problems And Addressing Them

By Julia Thomas|Updated April 5, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Martha Furman, LPC, CAC

Year by year, anger is becoming more prevalent in America. In fact, in a survey conducted by Esquire Magazine, half of all who responded said they were angrier than they were a year ago. Twenty percent of Americans have diagnosable anger problems. With these statistics in mind, it makes sense to examine your thoughts and behaviors to find out if you have an anger problem, and if so, what type of anger it is and how you express it. This article can help you explore your anger issues and decide how to address them.

Getting Control of Your Anger Means Confronting Issues That Trigger Rage

Is It Wrong to Feel Angry?

Anger is usually a healthy emotion. Reasonable anger can give you the energy to fight for a noble cause or hang on when times are rough. Feeling angry, then, is not wrong in and of itself. It is what you do with that feeling that can cause you problems with your work and your relationship and take the joy out of living.

The way you think about and express your anger can make the difference between having a happy, fulfilling life and having a life that is out of control. Once you realize you are taking little control of your anger, you can develop new ways to think and act that lessen your overblown feelings of anger.

Deciding to Explore Your Anger Problems

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

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

Anger Issues 

Some of the symptoms of unmanaged anger are or feel very physical.

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

Other symptoms are psychological and emotional.

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

Notice that what we tend to think of as anger is only one emotional symptom of the condition. Many people are surprised to find out that anxiety can come directly from an anger issue. People who are irritable 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 the path to learning how to manage your anger better so you can live a more productive and peaceful life.

Quizzes and Tests to Assess Your Anger Problem

There are two main types of anger problems tests. One type is a screening quiz that can help you look at your level of anger problem to decide what you should do next. The other type is 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 easy to fill out and can be completed in a few short minutes. They are available online- some for free and some for a fee. You can 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 that situation would make you feel. Other questions might be about the behaviors you typically indulge in when you feel angry. These tests are for screening only and should not be relied on for a final judgment on whether and what kinds of anger problems you have.

Clinical Anger Management Tests

If you decide to seek help for your anger, a licensed counselor may have you fill out 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. Don't worry. They are not trying to judge you harshly. The point is for them to get a clearer picture of how you express your anger so they can help you overcome your problems.

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 the test on hand to use during your first session if they choose to use it. The STAXI-2 is a paper and pencil test that your therapist gives you and scores by hand. It only takes about 10 minutes to fill out the test. It is considered accurate for anyone between the ages of 16 and 63. The test has 57 questions that measure your State Anger, which is the emotion feeling of being angry, and your Trait Anger, which is related to how anger plays a part in your personality. It measures the intensity of your anger and how often you express it.

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

How To Manage Anger Issues

Getting Control of Your Anger Means Confronting Issues That Trigger Rage

You don't have to let anger ruin your relationships and your life. You can learn to manage your anger so that it no longer controls your thoughts and behavior. If you believe you have problems with anger and feel powerless to overcome them, help is available. At BetterHelp.com, a licensed counselor can help you assess your anger and develop new ways to deal with it. Here are some ways your counselor might help practice better anger management.

  • Learn what makes you angry. A little self-examination goes 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.
  • Cognitive restructuring: This is simply 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 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 these things happen to you, as they do to everyone, only sometimes.
  • 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 are absurd once you examine them in a less emotional way. Sarcasm is usually associated with anger, but silly humor can bring a smile or a laugh that defuses your anger.
  • Get calm. You can learn to become calm and focused on practicing meditation. Let the angry thoughts pass through your mind, noticing them but not dwelling on them. It takes practice, but it is worth the effort. Another calming technique is 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 don't have to stay in an anger-provoking situation until it is resolved. You can step back and take a break from it. Typically, once out of the situation, people begin to calm down and can deal with it more constructively when they return to it.
  • Communicate anger appropriately. Anger is a part of the human experience. Yet, often people express their anger in ways that are inappropriate and ineffective. So, when you feel angry with someone, you could just say, "I am angry now," 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. Learn how to state your case strongly and reasonably. Expect others to treat you well. Be firm in expressing what is important to you, but be cognizant of the feelings and safety of those around you.
  • Make a plan for managing your anger. Your 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.

Anger management is a process. No one decides to take control of their anger and becomes calm, peaceful and reasonable in one day. Practice what you've learned as well as any other techniques your counselor teaches you. Practice may not make perfect, but it can help you improve day by day.

 

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