Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage,” according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.
The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival.
On the other hand, we can’t physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take us.
People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.
Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn’t allowed outward expression, your anger can turn inward—on yourself. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.
Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.
What therapies are available for anger management issues?
Many therapeutic strategies are available to help you deal with anger issues. Some of these include:
• Cognitive behavioral therapy
• Improvements in communication skills
• Focus on problem-solving
• Avoidance of problematic situations
• Humor and self-deprecation
List of medications Used for anger management
There are several medications mainly antidepressants used in the management of anger issues, they include:
Zoloft: Zoloft is a brand of Sertraline, a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by increasing the amounts of serotonin, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance.
Prozac: Fluoxetine, sold under the brand names Prozac and Sarafem among others, is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class. As an SSRI, Prozac works by preventing the brain from reabsorbing naturally occurring serotonin. Serotonin is involved in mood regulation. In this way, Prozac helps the brain to maintain enough serotonin so that you have a feeling of well-being, resulting from improved communication between brain cells.
Celexa: Celexa also an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class works by preventing the reuptake of serotonin by nerves, leading to an increase in serotonin concentrations within the nerve synapse (space between two nerves).
In a depressed state, these medications can help prevent anger attacks by the calming effect they provide within the body which can support control of rage and unwanted negative emotion.
However, if you want to control your anger before depression sets in, you’ll have to take a close look at the roots of your anger and the effect it has on your life.