All about anger

Why do people get angry? Find out all about anger, including what it is, signs of anger, types of anger, and what people can do to reduce their anger.

Signs you might be angry...

  • you’re in a bad mood
  • you’re frustrated
  • you’re lashing out
  • worried
Boy at table with parents fighting

What is anger?

Anger is a normal emotion experienced by everyone at different times. People usually feel angry as a reaction to their thoughts or emotions, like when they feel:

  • hurt
  • frustrated
  • worried
  • jealous 
  • confused
  • rejected
  • embarrassed
  • powerless.

How likely you are to be angry can depend on a lot of different factors. You could:

  • be experiencing body changes which cause mood swings
  • be under a lot of pressure
  • be being treated unfairly, discriminated against, or bullied.
  • just have a personality that has a short fuse.
Whatever the reason behind it, there’s nothing wrong with feeling angry. What is important is how you cope with, and express, angry feelings. Anger that isn’t managed well can have an impact on your relationships, as well as your physical and emotional health.

Signs of anger

Physical signs of anger that people can experience include:

  • feeling hot or having a flushed face
  • being shaky
  • having a dry mouth
  • finding it difficult to hear someone speaking to you
  • muscle tension.

When you do feel angry, it’s common to feel:

  • paralysed
  • overwhelmed
  • impulsive
  • like you don’t have control.

Different ways anger is expressed

Everyone expresses and copes with anger differently. Anger can be a positive thing if it’s channelled in the right way– it can motivate people to change things they don’t like about their life, or the world.

Anger can also be expressed by:

  • lashing out at someone or something
  • withdrawing.
Anger can be unhealthy when it is expressed in these ways. When you’re not in control of your anger, there’s a risk you could hurt others and yourself. If you bottle up your anger, you might find that it comes out in ways you don’t expect.

What to do about anger

Anger can be really hard to deal with sometimes, but managing it is definitely possible. People will find certain strategies for managing anger will work better for them than others. That’s completely fine, as long as it’s being managed in ways which don’t lead them to hurting themselves or others.

If you’re thinking about finding better ways to manage your anger, you need to:

  • Develop positive strategies to help you cope. Examples include distracting yourself, breathing deeply, and taking time out.
  • Treat the underlying cause of anger. Work out what’s causing your anger, and plan strategies for solving the problem.
If you’re struggling to gain control of your anger, if you feel angry all the time, or you are reacting violently, it’s important to seek professional help. Becoming violent is not helpful; you could make things worse or harm yourself or someone else. Speaking to someone like a counsellor can help you identify why you are getting angry and also help you deal with that cause.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 30 July, 2014
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