Getting to Know Anger Management
On one level, anger management involves techniques that help you control your temper and remain calm in triggering situations. On a deeper level, it is a way to understand that anger is a normal part of life but that you need to deploy it more constructively and effectively.
Many healthy people experience anger on a regular basis. It helps people process traumatic events and even small, everyday problems. When someone has an excess of uncontrolled anger, however, they may have an anger disorder. Anger disorders are often comorbid with other untreated mental disorders.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Anger
Anger is a normal part of life, but there are major differences between healthy and unhealthy anger. As a starting point, an individual needs to identify whether or not their anger is healthy to determine whether or not they need anger management.
People who experience anger that interferes with their quality of life or destroys relationships, jobs, and friendships may require anger management intervention. Anger management may also be necessary for those whose anger has created legal problems.
Disordered Anger– A Common Problem
A problem such as disordered anger can leave a person feeling stigmatized. Anyone going through this should understand that they are not alone, or a monster. By some estimates, it is thought that seven percent of adults in the U.S. have an Intermittent Explosive Disorder, with some research placing rates even higher in teenagers.
The Benefits of Anger Management Therapy
Disordered anger can leave you feeling out of control and as if your life is in chaos. Anger management therapy done in partnership with trained professionals can teach you proven techniques for managing your anger so that it no longer impacts your life so severely. Anger is a symptom of a mental health disorder, and requires compassionate care and intervention just like any health problem.
Anger management can include individual and group therapies, as well as prescribed medication. Anger management therapy is different from everyone and should be tailored to a patient’s needs.
The Symptoms of an Anger Disorder
Unhealthy anger comes in many forms, not just in violent outbursts as many expect. While many people with anger disorders act out through yelling and physical violence, anger disorders can also come out in passive ways. Patients who experience passive disordered anger may engage in self-destructive actions, excessive sarcasm, or apathy.
Symptoms of Anger Disorder:
- Suppressed rage
- Constant focus on the negative
- Acting out violently
- Engaging in destruction of property
- Threatening others
- Driving recklessly
- Arguing with others constantly
- Heightened irritability
- Forcing others to tread carefully
Given the violence inherent to some anger disorders, there are often victims who suffer at the hands of those with this mental health issue. While disordered anger is a symptom of a disease, victims should seek help for themselves and not use the disease to excuse the person’s actions against them.
Anger and Depression
Many have a stereotypical idea of depression, imaging an individual who never leaves the bed or home and spends all day crying. What many don’t realize is that people with depression may act out in anger, as well.
Those experiencing depression are often plagued by their inner critics. These voices make them feel unworthy. Acting out in anger can help people relieve the anxiety these voices cause. Working with a therapist can help patients experiencing this build stronger self esteem.
Many who suffer from disordered anger feel as though they can never regain control. There are techniques people can use to let anger out in more constructive ways. These techniques can help people slow anger down before it escalates and gets out of control. Some techniques include:
- Take a beat before you speak. As anger begins to build, acknowledge its presence and let the people around you know you need a moment. Take that moment to breathe and think through your response before you act out.
- Calmly state your feelings. Learn to state your feelings simply and calmly. Saying things like “I’m feeling angry now” can help assuage that anger.
- Exercise Regularly. Getting regular exercise helps release some of the pent up energy related to an anger disorder. If you feel anger building, getting some exercise can serve as a healthier release.
While these techniques are effective, those with disordered anger need the help and support of a mental health professional. These professionals can help tailor interventions that work with the specific needs of an individual.
Anger Management Therapy
There are several types of therapy that can help those with an anger disorder. While some patients may benefit from one, others may benefit from participating in several different therapies.
In group therapy, individuals share their experiences with disordered anger. A therapist leads the session, guiding the conversation and providing coping strategies for the group to consider.
In individual therapy, patients with disordered anger can work to uncover the triggers of their anger. Comorbid disorders such as depression and anxiety can also be addressed. When anger stems from an emotional disorder, a psychiatrist may recommend medication as a supplement to therapy.
Residential treatment is necessary sometimes when people with an anger disorder have dangerous symptoms such as suicidal ideation. A patient receiving inpatient treatment stays in a facility and is monitored closely by a medical team.
Disordered anger does not need to ruin your life. Contact our office to see how we can help you learn better ways for coping with anger.