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What Are the Signs of an Anger Problem?

By Michael Smathers
Updated Feb 10, 2024
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Although anger is a natural and sometimes healthy emotion, people who have an anger problem may become angry too easily or feel unable to control their anger. Day to day stresses will inevitably cause anger on some occasions, but learning how to control it and recognize anger management problems is imperative to a healthy, happy life. Several signs and symptoms of anger management problems can be differentiated, and they can be treated with a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication. People who become disproportionately angry, who seem to be in a constant state of anger, or alternatively, who bottle up their anger may all have an anger problem. Over time, if left untreated, these problems can damage or destroy relationships.

The first sign of an anger problem is the tendency to become disproportionately angry with little or no provocation. Most people would consider screaming and ranting because someone left the top off the milk container, for instance, an unjustifiable and disproportionate response. Anger, as a natural emotion, is intended to produce the fight-or-flight response that prepares humans to deal with emergency situations and releases adrenaline into the body's systems; properly-managed anger produces responses that are proportionate to the situation. IED, or Intermittent Explosive Disorder, is a disease that includes disproportionate anger as a symptom, and sufferers are capable of violence at perceived slights.

A constant state of anger or stress that is seemingly unprovoked, or becoming impatient while performing everyday activities, such as waiting in line, are other indications of an anger problem. Taking note of actions when angry is one of the most tell-tale ways of recognizing an anger problem. Hitting a wall, throwing objects, or any other violent action is one indicator. Other people's interactions and relations are another; people who have anger problems may find their family and friends interacting with them less to avoid provoking them.

An anger problem is also indicated by the opposite symptom: an inability or unwillingness to express anger at appropriate moments. A person may feel angry and hurt at others' actions or words, but without an outlet or means to express anger when it occurs, it can build up until the person can no longer control it, leading to a sudden outburst during which all slights and grievances are aired. Passive-aggressiveness is an undesirable personality trait associated with someone who bottles anger and releases it all at once.

Holding grudges and not forgiving those who do wrong is another sign of an anger problem. Getting angry at someone for wrongdoing is normal, but maintaining a grudge even after the person has made a good-faith attempt to make reparations is not. Humans are naturally social creatures and thrive on positive interactions. Grudges strain relationships and can even end them entirely.

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