We all feel angry at different points in our lives; this emotion is a necessary and healthy feeling in some situations. However, this can be problematic if it’s out of control. When you have a hard time controlling your emotions you could be experiencing anger issues.
So how do you know when your anger or someone else’s is problematic? What are the specific signs of anger issues in children and adults, and what are treatment options?
We explore the answers to these questions below.
What Causes an Anger Issue?
If you have rage that you can’t control, it can impact your emotional and physical health; you may also turn you physically abusive. Anger isn’t in and of itself a mental health disorder.
Instead, it is a symptom of many other mental health conditions.
This reaction can come as a result from:
- Depression: If you deal with depression, agitation may be one of the symptoms you have. Along with rage, other symptoms of depression can include loss of energy, irritability, feelings of hopelessness, or thoughts of suicide.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: A type of anxiety disorder, OCD is characterized by compulsive behavior and obsessive thoughts. Violence can also be one of the symptoms you might struggle with if you have OCD.
- Substance abuse: When someone uses drugs or alcohol, particularly alcohol, it can trigger them to show signs of aggression. Alcohol contributes to around half of all violent crimes in the U.S.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: ADHD symptoms are impulsivity, hyperactivity, and a lack of attention. Irritation can also be a symptom.
- Oppositional defiant disorder: A behavioral disorder affecting as much as 16% of children, ODD symptoms can include irritability, being argumentative, and aggressive behavior.
- Bipolar disorder: Symptoms of bipolar disorder can include racing, euphoric thoughts during a manic episode. During a depressive episode, symptoms can include feeling sad or hopeless.
- Intermittent explosive disorder: A person with IED may have angry outbursts that last for 30 minutes or less. Someone with this disorder might feel angry the majority of the time.
Signs of Anger Issues
Symptoms and signs of these issues can be physical and emotional.
While we all occasionally have symptoms, if you have reoccurring issues, you can experience them more frequently and severely than we expect.
Rage affects so much of your body. Irritation can cause your blood pressure to rise as well as your heart rate.
You could notice muscle tension, signs of decreased cortisol, and even physical pain.
Emotional signs of temper issues can include frustration, anxiety, and irritability.
Symptoms can also include rage, stress, guilt, or feeling overwhelmed.
Ask yourself the following questions if you worry you could have a temper issue:
- Do you frequently feel angry?
- Do you feel like your emotions is out of control?
- Is your temper impacting your relationships?
- Do you regret things you say?
- Are you abusive, verbally or physically, to others?
Types of Anger Problems
The expression of rage doesn’t always happen in the same ways. For example:
Outward: This is when you express these emotions in an obvious way to the people around you. That could mean you yell, throw things, break things or become abusive toward other people.
Inward: Emotions you direct at yourself. You could deny yourself things that make you happy, engage in negative self-talk, or you could harm yourself.
Passive: When you’re subtle in how you show this emotion. You might make sarcastic remarks, for example, or give someone the silent treatment.
Children & Temper Tantrums
Just like as adults, we may sometimes experience a range of emotions, so do children.
Children aren’t as well-equipped to understand how to deal with their anger, and that’s normal.
However, children can have rage issues that are outside of what we consider to be expected.
Signs can include:
- Having tantrums that don’t seem age-appropriate—most children’s tantrums end when they’re around six years old
- A child’s teacher could report they are out of control
- A hard time finding other kids to play with
- Blaming others for their problems
- Looking for reasons to get angry or upset can be a red flag in kids
- Inability to control how they feel when they’re angry
What Is an Anger Management Program?
There are different methods to help with signs of anger issues.
We often, for example, hear about anger management classes, where mental health professionals help through group or individual therapy.
While the specifics might vary, the goal is to help you recognize the signs that you’re getting angry.
Then, when you realize those signs, you can start to rely on coping mechanisms to deal with situations more productively.
The idea behind these classes or therapies isn’t that you experience no anger.
The goal is to experience irritation in normal and healthy ways, and you deal with it appropriately.
The sessions, length, and setting of the program vary depending on your needs.
As you start the program, you may work to identify triggers.
You will learn what the signs are in yourself that indicate you are getting angry.
Being able to see these signs in yourself is a critical part of controlling your emotions. Your therapist or counselor might ask that you identify stressors.
Stressors are those things in your life that you know make your symptoms worse, such as dealing with money issues or a co-worker.
Then, you can begin to look for physical symptoms.
You might, for example, feel like your body temperature goes up or your heart is racing.
The third thing you might identify is those emotional signs.
Goals of therapy include:
- Manage factors that you know to increase the likelihood of you getting angry.
- Identify triggering situations and how to respond to those accordingly.
- You can learn skills to use in real situations that trigger you.
- Identify illogical thinking patterns.
- As part of your classes or therapy, you can learn how to feel calm again.
- Communicate your needs, even in frustrating situations.
- You may find that you have better physical health.
- You can improve your relationships and your quality of life.
If you feel like you see signs of anger issues in yourself or someone you love, reach out to the Mental Health Center of San Diego team at (858) 258-9883 to learn more about how therapy or counseling can help.