What is anger?
A normal human emotion experienced by everyone at some point in time, anger - when properly managed - is not an issue. However, anger becomes problematic when it is excessive or pervasive, consequently having a negative impact on the individual’s mood, behaviour and relationships.
Anger can range from feelings of mild annoyance, to intense rage, which is generally accompanied by a series of physiological changes to the body, some of which include increased heart rate, increased temperature and perspiration, and feelings of being out of control.
Anger also becomes an issue when individuals internalise their emotions, or when they externalise feelings through aggressive behaviour.
Anger typically arises as a result of environmental triggers, and is often associated with the frustration of things or people not acting in the way we would like. Some people are also said to be “hot headed” meaning they are genetically predisposed to anger, however, the primary influence on anger management is our own interpretation of events.
Who is most susceptible to anger?
Men and women are both as equally susceptible to experiencing anger. Those who are more stressed, however, are more likely to experience difficulties managing the anger they experience.
How common is anger?
At some point in time, everyone will experience anger, though it does not become problematic until it begins to affect you, the people around you, your work, health, the law or your day-to-day living. When those around you become frightened or hurt as a result of your anger, or are scared to disagree or speak with you because of it, it is a good indication that better anger management skills need to be formulated.
What are the signs and symptoms of anger?
The earlier that signs and symptoms of anger and recognised, the more effective attempts to calm yourself will be. Physical signs of anger include a pounding heart, flushed face, excessive perspiration, tightness in your chest, or gritting your teeth. In addition to physical signs, changes in thoughts leading to irrational and exaggerated perspectives, as well as self-criticism, are all symptoms of unmanaged anger.
Things to look out for if you think someone is experiencing anger:
If you suspect someone is suffering from unmanaged anger, the best signs are verbal and physical displays of aggression, weakened levels of tolerance in dealing with frustrations, and the use of drugs and alcohol to overcome or deal with how they are feeling.
What treatment options are available for anger?
Anger is most effectively treated with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) aims to shift the individual’s feelings by addressing their thinking style through cognitive challenging and behavioural exercises.
Understanding what triggers anger in the individual will also assist in the development of strategies for effectively managing the anger. Some of these anger management strategies may include avoiding particular people or situations, utilising arousal reduction techniques e.g., breathing exercises, or improving the individual’s communication skills.