Anger is a commonly experienced emotion which can range in intensity from mild annoyance to rage.
It is not people that can trigger anger, but the emotion of anger is influenced by our thoughts and our interpretation of external factors and the ability and skills to cope with them. When a person believes that they have been wronged, treated unfairly or unjustly or feels their wellbeing is under threat, they can often respond in anger. Anger is triggered when a person believes they have been wronged by someone, that something unfair or unjust has happened, or that their wellbeing and social status are either not being respected or are under threat. No person can make us angry, rather anger is influenced by people’s thoughts, their interpretations of events and their coping skills and available supports.
Anger is a normal human emotion and although it is often perceived as negative it doesn't always have to be harmful; in fact, it can be a healthy response, when expressed respectfully. When anger is controlled it can be a helpful emotion to take positive actions to change situations for the better.
However, when anger expresses itself negatively through violence and physical or psychological injury it not only impacts oneself but also those around you.
If anger is affecting your ability to thrive in your daily life, one of our psychologists can help. We usually see clients individually, but also provide additional support to family members where necessary.
We are equipped to not only support you with anger management strategies but other associated conditions such as anxiety, depression or substance use.
Contact us today to arrange a confidential consultation. Read our practical strategies for anger management to help you today.
Signs and Triggers
Negative, or 'problem anger' is frequent, intense, and enduring. Problem anger is associated with a range of negative behaviours, particularly aggression and violence, which cause further difficulties for the person and their relationships, including family violence, workplace violence, bullying and harassment.
The experience of anger involves thoughts, emotions, physical responses and behaviours.
Thoughts can be irrational or exaggerated. When angry, people are more likely to blame others, and not see themselves as playing a role in the situation. Thoughts might also focus on putting the other person down, or wanting to get revenge.
Anger also involves an emotional response, related to the person’s thoughts and beliefs about a situation. It can range from mild annoyance or irritation to more extreme feelings of rage or fury.
The sympathetic nervous system is activated during anger, raising the heart rate, increasing muscle tension, and sometimes creating the sensation of feeling hot.4 Chemicals in the brain which help control mood, sleep, appetite, learning, and memory, are also thought to be involved in our expressions and experience of anger and, as a result, these aspects of our behaviour can be negatively affected.
Research has yet to identify the causes of anger. However, the way anger is experienced and expressed can become a habit. Therefore, knowing the risk factors for anger can help when trying to choose an assertive and respectful expression. Some of the risk factors for anger are:
- Anger-related memories and images, such as those related to the experience of trauma, can trigger and add to the experience of anger.
- Family and cultural factors whereby families model what is acceptable behaviour and cultures can shape what is seen as a normal and appropriate response to stress.
- Fixed ways of thinking about the world and setting inflexible standards and expectations can increase the likelihood of anger when situations do not work out as expected.
- Anger can be a symptom of some mental health disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and some personality disorders.1 Frequent outbursts of anger might therefore indicate broader mental health problems and should be evaluated.
- A tendency to respond to stress with anger, hostility or aggression may in part be influenced by a person’s genes.