How Anger Affects People

Well-managed anger can be a useful emotion that motivates you to make positive changes. Anger is a powerful emotion and if we do not handle appropriately it, 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 triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response. Other emotions that trigger this response include fear, excitement, and anxiety. The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. The brain shunts blood away from the gut and towards the muscles to prepare for physical exertion. Heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration increase, the body temperature rises and the skin perspires. The mind is sharpened and focused.

The constant flood of stress chemicals and associated metabolic changes that go with ongoing unmanaged anger can eventually cause harm to many systems of the body.

Some of the short- and long-term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include:

  • headache
  • digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
  • insomnia
  • increased anxiety
  • depression
  • high blood pressure
  • skin problems, such as eczema
  • heart attack
  • stroke.

How to express your anger in healthy ways includes:

  • If you feel out of control, walk away from the situation temporarily until you cool down.
  • Recognize and accept the emotion as normal and part of life.
  • Try to pinpoint the exact reasons you feel angry.
  • Once you have identified the problem, consider coming up with different strategies for how to remedy the situation.
  • Do something physical, such as going for a run or playing sport.
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling.

When you have argued, it is easy to stay angry or upset with the other person. If you do not resolve an argument with a person, you see often, it can be a very uncomfortable experience. Talking to the person about your disagreement may or may not help. If you approach them, make sure it is helpful. Stay calm and communicate openly and honestly.

There are good reasons for dealing with arguments, including:

  • It will give you a sense of achievement and make you feel more positive.
  • You may feel more relaxed, healthier, and more able to get a good night’s sleep.
  • You may develop stronger relationships.
  • You may feel happier.

The way you typically express anger may take some time to change. Suggestions include:

  • Keep a diary of your anger outbursts to understand how and why you get mad.
  • Consider assertiveness training, or learning about techniques of conflict resolution.
  • Learn relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga.
  • See a counselor or psychologist if you still feel angry about events that occurred in your past.
  • Exercise regularly.

People who are stressed are more likely to experience anger. Many worldwide studies have documented that regular exercise can improve mood and reduce stress levels. This may be because physical exertion burns up stress chemicals, and it also boosts the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters in the brain, including endorphins and catecholamines.