Why Do You Feel So Angry All the Time?

Alleviate Anger

Do you feel like being angry has become your everyday mood? Whether it remains repressed or gets expressed, anger can create serious repercussions. When directed outward, it can lead to intermittent explosive disorder, which affects 2.7% of people and may cause outbursts of sudden rage and violent behavior. On the other hand, those who constantly suppress their anger can experience bouts of depression.

But many people simply face moderate instances of anger in response to everyday stresses that occur both in their personal lives and in the world at large. After all, with phenomena like “Facebook depression” and “eco-anxiety” now facts of life, it’s clear that our modern-day use of social media and the 24-hour news cycle can fuel feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, the belief that “things aren’t as good as they used to be,” or frustrations over lack of control or societal change. On a personal level, obstacles like health concerns, chronic pain, financial issues, or feeling underappreciated in relationships can all trigger intermittent feelings of anger.

The good news is, you can take simple steps to moderate these episodes and their effects—or, when necessary, seek help so that anger doesn’t spiral into a more serious condition.

Obstacles like health concerns, chronic pain, financial issues, or feeling underappreciated in relationships can all trigger intermittent feelings of anger. Click To Tweet

ANGER IN THE BRAIN

According to a study by the Amen Clinics team utilizing brain SPECT imaging, people with intense anger leading to outward aggression have significant differences in brain activity compared with non-aggressive individuals. These changes include decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex (causing lack of impulse control), increased activity in the basal ganglia and limbic system (seen in those with anxiety and depression), and temporal lobe abnormalities in the left region of the brain (interfering with mood stability and associated with aggression).

On the flip side, though anger gets a bad rap, it can actually be a good thing—if it is channeled appropriately and used to positive effect. If you find yourself simmering, take a pause to ask yourself: Is this problem stemming from the present moment, or from a long-ago time or situation? If the latter, try to pinpoint the origins and determine how you can address it—for example, by making amends with a person or situation from the past. (You may also need to seek psychotherapy to delve further into the issue.) But if the problem is rooted in the now, you can brainstorm ways to constructively express your emotions—ideally after a calming pause to indulge in some of the soothing strategies outlined below.

11 STRATEGIES TO QUICKLY ALLEVIATE ANGER

When anger strikes, it’s a good idea to use tactics to distract yourself, even for just a few moments, to gather up some calm and view the situation with a clearer mind—thus allowing for a more measured and appropriate response. Here are 11 methods that may help; after some trial and error, keep a list of your favorites handy so that you can easily refer to them in the heat of the moment.

1. Pause and evaluate your goals.

Taking a more rational view of the situation and envisioning your ideal outcome can put some needed distance between the circumstances at hand and your emotions. Before lashing out, ask yourself, “Does it fit?” Does your behavior fit the goals you have for your life?

2. Identify and watch out for your unique anger warning signs.

When you know what happens to alert you to anger (such as shallow breathing or increased heart rate), you can take steps at the earliest opportunity to head it off or address it.

3. Practice deep breathing.

If you feel symptoms of anger coming on, try this simple breathing strategy: Take 10 deep breaths (breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 1 second, breathe out for 6 seconds, hold for 1 second). In less than 2 minutes, you’ll feel calmer and thus able to express your feelings more effectively.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for a time-out.

If you can’t trust or control your own reaction in the face of anger, slow down or, if necessary, exit the situation. For example, head outside, end the phone call or reschedule that meeting.

5. Turn on some soothing sounds.

Research shows that music can help improve mood and lessen the effects of stress, while another study found that natural sounds (like flowing water or trees blowing in the wind) help relax the body and mind.

6. Move your body.

Taking a walk or exercising helps expel buildups of negative energy.

7. Wash away your cares by taking a shower or bath.

Baths in particular have been shown to offer both physical and emotional boosts.

8. Grab a pen and paper, and start writing.

Journaling helps exorcise destructive thought loops. One study showed that writing about negative emotions and trying to make cognitive sense of the situation on the page create an effective one-two punch to help overcome stressors and even improve health.

9. Try aromatherapy.

Breathe in calming scents, like lavender. Studies have shown the positive psychological effects of certain fragrances, which can be tapped in the form of candles, oils, sachets, diffusers, and more.

10. Eat a healthy snack.

Getting hangry? If hunger is the culprit that’s making you feel quick to anger, grab a healthy snack to get your blood sugar levels back on track.

11. Take a brief nap.

If lack of sleep is the issue, a catnap may help. A snooze of fewer than 30 minutes has been shown to improve performance and learning ability, making you less apt to snap.

And one crucial don’t: Avoid drinking as a shortcut to calming down. Studies have shown that reducing alcohol intake significantly decreases negative emotions, and the World Health Organization associates alcohol consumption with aggressive behavior more than any other psychotropic substance.

WHEN TO SEEK HELP FOR ANGER ISSUES

If anger is interfering with your life, relationships, and/or performance, it might be time to seek help. Among certain people, anger is a red flag that points toward more serious conditions in the brain, such as an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury, problems in the temporal lobes, underactive frontal lobes, exposure to toxins, or unknown infections. In these cases, brain SPECT imaging can help to determine the root cause. Those diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder can further address their issues in therapy. Without the proper diagnosis, anger can exacerbate or lead to other conditions, including ADD/ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, and more, so it’s important to control your anger before it controls you.

Persistent feelings of anger, Intermittent explosive disorder, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

10 Comments »

  1. #1 is rather difficult to do if you haven’t been doing 2 & 3 – one must be aware of anger before it rises too high to control easily. Saying “pause” does not work very well neither when you are angry better to say “breathe”.
    The fasted way of eliminating anger I have found to be “Ayahuasca “- she purged not only anger, but trauma, fears, guilt, shame and resentment ( all of which fuel our anger) in a single night from my body and mind.

    Comment by Steven Bulcroft — April 27, 2022 @ 4:22 AM

  2. What is the problem when you’ve been knocked down so hard you have lost the ability to FEEL an emotion called anger,

    Comment by Ruthie Miller — April 27, 2022 @ 4:54 AM

  3. While this is a great article, with very helpful strategies for diffusing anger in the current moment, it does not address the causes at all.
    The article mentions some of the societal causes that can create internal anger: modern-day use of social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and lack of societal change. To address the resulting anger, we could coach a person to manage their exposure to social media and the news; choosing to change both the amount of time and the quality of the media they expose themselves to. They could be coached to take positive action to contribute to positive societal change. We know that whatever we consume and how much of it we consume profoundly impacts our mood, atttitudes, and who we become.
    The article also mentions that on a personal level, “obstacles like health concerns, chronic pain, financial issues, or feeling underappreciated in relationships can all trigger intermittent feelings of anger.” Therefore, we would coach someone to address the causes behind the health concerns and/or chronic pain through diet and lifestyle, using a health coach, books, and online resources. We can encourage them to learn more about financial management, increasing job skills to increase income, etc. We can guide them to communicate their felt needs and wants in any relationships, personal or professional, to address feelings of being underappreciated, misunderstood, judged, controlled, etc. We can provide resources to learn better communication, conflict resolution, autonomy, choosing positive & supportive relationships, etc. to improve life and therefore brain health.
    In summary, while managing emotions and practicing self-care is key to our wellbeing, it is also imperative that the root causes behind any negative emotions are addressed and resolved. Thanks for reading my input.

    Comment by Lin P — April 27, 2022 @ 7:40 AM

  4. Excellent advice for insight, psychological and perhaps spiritual growth and physical stress relief. Thank you and God bless.

    Comment by Jean — April 27, 2022 @ 10:25 AM

  5. Interested in Amen supplements to help anger issues, please.

    Comment by Patricia C Nail — April 27, 2022 @ 2:01 PM

  6. I was once that angry person. During the pandemic, I realized just how angry I was due to some situations at work and scheduled a series of acupuncture sessions. What a relief! The Chinese doctor knew exactly what questions to ask me and went to work on the root causes.

    Much better now.

    Thank you for this piece and the wisdom in the steps to take to alleviate anger.

    Comment by Meta C. — April 27, 2022 @ 2:52 PM

  7. Hello Patricia, thank you for reaching out. For more information about Dr. Daniel Amen’s brain-directed supplements, visit https://brainmd.com/contact to inquire.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — April 27, 2022 @ 7:04 PM

  8. After more than 1/2 a century living in this world, I’d say the one that works so well (for me, at least) is #1. But #1 requires some work first and mental investment – it has to be an honest goal that one really wants/needs. The best goal, in my opinion, is one that answers the question, ‘What do I want to become? Who do I want to be (in the end)?’ From my experience, one cannot choose how one start in live, but one can always choose how one completes it. For me, it must finish in style (a goal, right?). That should spark some strings of ‘goals’ in mind, and clear targets to aim for. Leaving behind, this ‘sewage of uselessness’ that clouds one’s life including those who trigger all negative emotions on daily basis including anger, is best done while walking towards your goals. From my experience, from that point any negative trigger that comes as I walk towards my goals become nothing more than minor white noise. No cortisol increase, no unnecessary drama, no wasted adrenalin. Only dopamine and endorphin from focusing and achieving who I want to be (and where I want to be, and who I want to be with).

    Comment by Zairil A. Zaludin — April 28, 2022 @ 1:45 AM

  9. I recently purchased Dr. Amen’s book, “The End of Mental Illness.” I have also listened to many of his podcasts and have been grateful to know there are solutions to many brain health issues. My husband has had intermittent outbursts that he claims was from PTSD. I confronted him with the thought of going to the Amen clinic on a trip we were taking to the Seattle area and getting a brain spect. He quickly left the room and gave me the silent treatment for weeks. He has since been diagnosed with Covert Narcissism and let me know that he wanted a separation from our almost 43 year marriage. I am devastated and now living in WA trying to make sense of everything. Is there any hope in helping someone with a personality disorder with your methods of treatment? Sleepless in WA

    Comment by Cindy Lawlor — April 28, 2022 @ 8:02 AM

  10. I have found that 1/2 milligram of lithium chloride eliminates the quick anger tendencies completely. It is available online, from Amazon of course, and sometimes can be found at The Vitamin Shoppe. It is a liquid and comes in a small bottle with a dropper. Ten drops, about half of the dropper, is the dose. Although the label recommends once daily, I take a dose in the morning and one in the late afternoon. The drops under the tongue work almost immediately if I’m feeling grumpy. You can also get lithium in pill form OTC, but I don’t think it works nearly as well (probably it has to pass through the digestive system). My wife can tell a huge difference. In fact, if I seem a bit brusque or brooding, she will ask, “did you take your lithium today?” The answer is almost always that I forgot to do so!

    Comment by Richard — May 6, 2022 @ 1:33 PM

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