As humans we all get angry at times, and well-managed anger can even be a useful emotion that gives us strength, energy and motivates us to act and make positive changes in our lives.
On the other hand, if it isn’t handled appropriately, it may have destructive results for you and those closest to you. Uncontrolled anger can lead to arguments, physical fights, physical abuse, assault and self-harm.
Anger is different for everyone and what triggers anger in some people, will not affect other people at all. Some of the common reasons people experience anger are:
- They are feeling threatened or being attacked
- People not respecting their authority, feelings or property
- Being treated unfairly and feeling powerless to do anything about it
- Feeling tired and rundown and not able to cope
For most people, feelings of anger don’t last long term and generally pass once the situation is resolved or the trigger is removed. However, for others these feelings of anger are a part of their day-to-day life and can be linked to stress and anxiety.
How Is Anger Linked To Stress And Anxiety?
Anxiety is usually associated with shyness and a general struggle to be social and around people, and in some cases this is true. However in other people it can cause feelings of anger and aggression.
Some of the reasons anger is linked to stress and anxiety are:
Flight or Fight Response: Anxiety is the activation of the fight or flight response. It’s a response designed to keep you safe from danger, and it is supposed to only occur when you’re faced with fear. Anxiety occurs when the response is malfunctioning. While the fight/flight response doesn’t necessarily cause fighting, it does prime the body for a fight, so that those that are slightly more prone to fighting (either because of genetics or upbringing) feel more anger and aggressive.
Irritability: Anxiety causes irritability and this type of irritability usually causes people to close off or become passive aggressive, but in some people, that same irritation can cause them to react more strongly and possibly show aggressive behaviours.
Anxiety Causes Stress: While some evidence suggests that the hormone released by stress (cortisol) reduces aggression, stress itself has been linked to an increase in aggression. Once again, this tends to be more common in those with naturally aggressive tendencies, but not necessarily. If you experience anxiety (even from problems at work or struggling finances), your body may essentially be priming for anger.
Unhealthy Habits: When people are anxious for an extended period of time, they may not be sleeping well, eating right, or enjoying the activities that help them stay calm and happy. As a result, they may be particularly sensitive and become angry over small problems that normally wouldn’t make them angry.
Change In Routine: People suffering from anxiety and stress can become very rigid in their routines. They are most comfortable when their environment stays the same day after day, so when something disrupts that, they may not know how to handle the change and will often have outbursts of anger, sometimes it seems for no reason at all.
Personality/Upbringing: Some people may have adopted an angry personality due to life events or upbringing. When they don’t get what they want when they want it, they become impatient and anxious. This becomes a vicious cycle. They’re angry about something, and they get anxious. The more anxious they get, the angrier they get.
Anger can have a dangerous effect both physically and mentally on both the person suffering from anger and those around them. The causes and reasons for a person’s anger can be varied and deep-rooted, but whatever the cause, it is crucial that if someone is unable to control their anger that they seek help from a professional therapist.