Everyone has angry feelings from time to time. Anger is a normal response and not in itself a problem. In fact, in some situations anger empowers us to challenge injustice or to make necessary changes in our lives.
However, at other times anger becomes aggression. Anger with aggression is usually a response to what is perceived to be either a life-threatening situation, or a need to dominate and control a situation quickly before it deteriorates into one.
Sometimes anger might not be easy to deal with and it might be difficult and uncomfortable to talk openly about it.
When is anger a problem?
For some people, dealing with angry feelings and their possible consequences is more of a problem than the situation that caused them, so they try to suppress them or only allow them out in covert ways. They are constantly on the lookout for conflict situations in case they result in angry or aggressive exchanges. Because of this, they may be highly stressed inside, which in time may cause health problems and depression.
For a minority of people, anger is present almost all the time, constantly re-enforced by their negative interpretation of the things that happen to them and always just beneath the surface ready to explode. Because of this, they very easily get themselves into conflict situations, thus continuing to reinforce their negative interpretations. They are highly stressed and over time could become prone to physical and mental health problems.
As you can see from the two types of anger described, it is not having angry feelings that causes problems, but what you do about it and how you express it.
Frequent or chronic anger can have serious consequences for our physical and mental health.
The state of heightened arousal puts great strain on the body. It is useful as a short-term emergency reaction, but not as a long-term personality trait or a lifestyle characteristic.
Anger and depression
Irritability and developing a short temper can also be symptoms that mask depression. Sometimes when we feel depressed, we feel angry that things are going so wrong for us, angry that we are in so much emotional pain and angry at the seeming hopelessness of our situation. We may have been discouraged from showing the helpless vulnerable sides of ourselves when we were younger, but we still have the urge to express how we feel. Anger often feels a more acceptable way to us of expressing emotional pain than crying, or asking directly for help.
The problem is that angry expressions sometimes drive people away and put them off wanting to try to understand the problems we may be facing. We are then left feeling isolated, which increases our angry feelings and deepens our depression. If you think that you may be in a cycle like this, it is important to realise that being angry is not a helpful strategy for beating depression and that you need to find someone you can talk to.
If you lose your temper or get violent and angry easily, you need to deal with these feelings. It’s not always wrong to get angry but it is wrong to take out your anger on others.
How to get help
There are some useful tips on controlling your anger here.
If you are at all worried by your anger, or some of the things that have happened because of it, please come and speak with us, we’ll be happy to help.