Anger and Mental Health Issues
Anger management difficulties can be related to numerous mental health issues. Depression, addictions, and anxiety are all linked to anger-related problems, but so is physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. There are a lot of interlocking factors that can contribute to a person developing anger management difficulties.
While the emotion of anger is natural and should not be bottled up, there are certain ways anger could be dealt with so that your angry outbursts do not harm others or yourself. Anger management difficulties can lead to broken relationships (friendly, romantic, and familial), job loss, but also criminal convictions – we want to avoid all such disastrous outcomes.
When does anger become an issue?
We’ve touched on the fact that anger is an overwhelming emotion to feel. However, it can help us identify any problems we have, motivate us to make changes, but also help us stay safe. Anger becomes an issue when it can be out of control and harm others – or yourself.
- Your anger has become your go-to emotion
- Your anger has a negative impact on your mental and physical wellbeing as well as others
- Your anger is expressed through destructive behaviour
Destructive behaviours are when anger channels itself into:
- Outward aggression and/or violence (shouting, slamming doors, verbal/physical abuse)
- Non-violent/passive aggression (ignoring others, refusing to do tasks, being sarcastic, witholding love)
- Inward aggression (self-hatred, denying basic needs like food, self-harm)
Why do I feel angry?
To beat your anger problems, you first need to locate the reasons why you are so angry. As mentioned, there is a link between anger and mental health issues. People who have depression and anxiety could have self-hatred towards themselves, causing inward aggression through self-harm, for example.
You need to monitor your behaviour and make notes in a journal as to the things that tend to make you angry. By doing this you will start to get a sense of your recurring triggers and therefore you’ll start to see a pattern to your anger. For instance, you may start to see that you get angry after you actually felt some guilt about something you did or did not do. Rather than attending to the guilt, you default into anger because anger will make you feel more powerful and certainly distract you (and others) from the guilt or even shame you felt initially. We call this self-defence anger which is directly linked to shame and shame is a mental health issue. There is another blog on shame and anger which can be found here.
Once you know what causes you to become angry, you can learn how to implement strategies to manage your anger properly.
How can I manage my anger?
There are many solutions out there, but you need to find the one that is right for you. Learning how to manage your anger leads itself to helping you manage any mental health issues that may have developed because of your anger management difficulties.
Did it cause an eating disorder, for example? This inward aggression can stem from any number of judgements you have towards yourself; you are punishing your mind and body. Ask yourself: why? Once you know, then you can move on to finding a solution.
Learn how to relax
Anger subsides, and the best way to ride out these overpowering emotions is to try relaxation techniques that’ll help you calm down. You need to find an activity that doesn’t over-stimulate you, but also one that you enjoy. In other words, it must be something that nourishes you.
- Play calming video games
- Read a book
- Breathing exercises
- Listening to music
Know how to handle conflict
Sadly, certain people can raise our heart rate and make us angry. It is impossible to get on with everyone; not everyone has the same opinions or worldviews as us, but that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to anger.
You will want to word your response carefully, listen to their point of view, and ensure you are not going to cause upset. If things escalate and you feel your anger rising, the best thing for you to do is walk away. Remember, it’s okay to have different opinions and don’t take anything personally.