We all have experienced anger from time to time and perhaps even on a daily basis. Anger is one of the many emotions that we have. It is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. As long as we are alive, we will still feel the emotion of anger. Anger has often been frowned upon and it is something to be avoided. It is not practical to want to never ever experience anger. It is not possible. What is really important is to learn how to manage it so that we can be effective and functional in our lives.
So when does anger become a problem?
It becomes a problem when one is chronically angry or when it becomes uncontrollable and crosses the confines of acceptability. Anger can be implosive or explosive. We are more familiar with explosive anger. Explosive anger is characterized by an obvious increase of voice level and even to the point of yelling and screaming. For some, they resort to self-harm such as hitting oneself or cutting oneself with a blade. Implosive anger is the quiet seething anger and it is characterized by behaviors such as over eating, substance abuse and alcohol abuse. Just because someone does not show obvious signs of anger like shouting or swearing, it does not mean that the person is not angry. A point to note however is that all implosive anger will eventually lead to explosive anger.
One of the better approaches to manage anger is to recognize the dangers of anger on one’s physical health.
Anger has been found to activate the ‘fight’ or flight’ response. Stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol speed up heart rate and breathing to give a burst of energy. Blood pressure also rises as vessels are constricted. This is damaging if it is repeated often. Studies have shown that chronically angry or hostile adults with no history of heart trouble might be 19% more likely than their more placid peers to develop heart disease. The researchers found that anger and hostility seem to do more harm to men’s hearts than women’s. Among patients already diagnosed with heart disease, those with angry or hostile temperaments were 24% more likely than other heart patients to have a poor prognosis.
Frequent episodes of uncontrolled anger can lead to a mental condition known as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). Intermittent Explosive Disorder can be characterized by repeated episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts in which one reacts grossly out of proportion to the situation. Road rage, domestic abuse, throwing or breaking objects, or other temper and tantrums may be signs of intermittent explosive disorder. People with intermittent explosive disorder may attack others and their possessions, causing bodily injury and property damage. They may also injure themselves during an outburst.
People with intermittent explosive disorder may feel remorse, regret or embarrassement. If you have intermittent explosive disorder, treatment may involve medications and psychotherapy to help you control your aggressive impulses.
The most effective way to manage anger is to mindfully asked ourselves: Does this issue really matter one year down the line? What about next month, next week or next day? Frankly, many of the things that people get angry with are not really big issues. They are often issues that do not really matter.