Do I Have Anger Issues?

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Anger is a normal human emotion that we all experience from time to time. Like other emotions, anger can be a useful signal of our physical or psychological needs.

Anger can take several different forms, ranging from mild irritation to intense fury. It may be directed at a person (such as a parent, sibling, neighbor, or complete stranger), a situation (such as a delayed train or missed flight), or an object (such as a pair of tangled earphones).

However, frequently experiencing bouts of intense anger or having difficulty controlling your anger could indicate that you have anger issues, says David Klemanski, PsyD, MPH, a psychologist at Yale Medicine.

This article explores the signs and symptoms of anger, to help you determine whether you have anger issues. It also discusses the impact of uncontrolled anger and suggests some steps you can take to tackle anger issues.

Signs and Symptoms of Anger

Anger can take many forms and manifest differently for people, says Dr. Klemanski. Below, he outlines some of the physical, emotional, and behavioral manifestations of anger.

Physical Symptoms

These are some of the physical manifestations of anger:

  • Rapid heartbeat and elevated blood pressure
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Muscle tension
  • A surge of energy
  • Feeling hot or agitated

Emotional Symptoms

These are some of the emotional manifestations of anger:

Behavioral Symptoms

These are some of the behavioral manifestations of anger:

  • Strong urge to lash out at something
  • Behavior that is generally out of character

Determining Whether You Have Anger Issues

You may feel angry occasionally and that doesn't mean you have an anger management problem, says Dr. Klemanski. However, he recommends tracking the intensity and frequency of your anger experiences.

“If anger feels like it's more of a personality trait or an ever-present mood, it would be best to talk with a mental health professional. Other warning signs might include physical aggression, chronic problems with your relationships or your job, and poor health as a result of increased anger and temper,” says Dr. Klemanski.

These are some questions you can ask yourself, to help you determine whether you have anger issues:

  • You feel angry very often.
  • You frequently get into heated arguments that spin out of control.
  • Your family or close friends have told you they think you have anger issues, or have severed contact with you because of your behavior.
  • You have conflicts with your coworkers.
  • You are not welcome at certain stores or establishments.
  • You have had violent thoughts or behaved violently when angry.
  • You have been arrested due to an anger-related incident.

Impact of Uncontrolled Anger

Issues with uncontrolled anger can affect your mental health, your work, your relationships, your health, and your everyday life. Below, Dr. Klemanski unpacks the potential impact of anger issues.

Impact of Anger Issues on Mental Health

Issues with anger certainly have the potential to exacerbate common mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.

Anger can also make everyday tasks more difficult than they need to be, causing you to feel overwhelmed and out of control. It can create a lot of chaos, especially when it is uncontrolled, and can make it hard to cope with everyday life.

Impact of Anger Issues on Relationships

Anger, especially when excessive, can be very off-putting. It can impact your relationships with others, causing them to distance themselves from you, potentially leaving you isolated. It can leave you vulnerable in the sense that you may not have an adequate support group from family, friends, or colleagues.

Impact of Anger Issues on Physical Health

Excess anger can take a toll on your health. It can affect many of the systems in your body, including your digestive, nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems. It can lead to health problems such as headaches, digestive issues, difficulty sleeping, and increased risk of heart disease.

Seeking Treatment for Anger Issues

David Klemanski, PsyD, MPH

Recognizing and acknowledging that anger might be an issue is a helpful start.

— David Klemanski, PsyD, MPH

Once you see that anger could potentially be a problem, Dr. Klemanski recommends talking with a mental health professional to better examine when and why anger manifests and the toll it could be taking on your physical and mental health. Below, he explains how anger issues are diagnosed and treated.

Diagnosing Anger Issues

Anger problems are typically diagnosed through a conversation with a mental health professional. There are several formal tests that can help the clinician understand the intensity and frequency of your anger, as well as your anger proneness and anger control. You may also be prompted to track your anger or emotions over time, including the behavioral manifestations of your anger. 

Importantly, chronic and intense anger can be associated with various mental illnesses, such as intermittent explosive disorder, depression, bipolar illness, or anxiety. For this reason, it’s best to work with a professional to diagnose your condition correctly, explore the source of your anger, and direct you to the right course of treatment.

Treating Anger Issues

The basic idea of anger management therapy is to help you relax when you're experiencing intense emotions and develop skills to manage your anger. One type of therapy that is commonly used to address anger issues is cognitive behavioral therapy.

Your therapist may also draw upon other techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation training, and emotional regulation. Additionally, you might benefit from learning problem-solving skills, how to identify and manage situations that might trigger anger, as well as healthy, proactive communication strategies. 

Coping With Anger Issues

Dr. Klemanski also shares some tips that can help you cope, if you have anger issues:

  • Pause before you react: It's helpful to think before you speak or act. Often, when you're angry, you might act impulsively or without much thought. Work on developing a habit of pausing or even walking away to spend time alone before acting out of anger.
  • Pay attention to triggers: It’s important to identify triggers that commonly make you angry and to recognize warning signs before your anger becomes intense or out of control.
  • Seek social support: ​​Talking openly and honestly with friends or family members may be helpful to get their perspective. Spending quality time with people you’re close to can also help you learn to relax.
  • Understand the condition: It can be useful to read about anger from professional self-help books or reputable organizations online. For example, the American Psychological Association has a website devoted to helping people understand anger difficulties and how to obtain help for managing anger.
  • Take anger management classes: There are several anger management classes that can be completed online, but it may be helpful to vet these with a therapist or another professional to ensure they are based on scientific evidence.

A Word From Verywell

If you suspect you have anger issues, you should seek help from a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible. If left untreated, uncontrolled anger can harm your health, your relationships, your work, and your mental health. 

Therapy can help you explore the causes of your anger, identify triggers that set it off, develop coping skills to manage your emotions, and learn relaxation techniques that can help you calm down.

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6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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