Getting a Grip on Your Anger

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Anger is a normal human emotion. Sometimes when you become very angry, you may feel as if the emotion has taken over and can’t be controlled. When your anger is getting out of control, you may run into personal problems at work or at home. But you can learn ways to handle your anger so you can gain some control over this seemingly uncontrollable feeling.

Anger is an emotion, but it also affects you physically. When you get angry, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, and the stressresponse hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline surge throughout your body, preparing you for action. Back in our remote past, anger helped us respond to threats by fighting and defending ourselves when we were attacked. But in today’s world you no longer need to respond so strongly to a perceived threat, which is more likely to be someone cutting you off in traffic or competing with you for a promotion than someone trying to steal your food.

Some people have a low tolerance for frustration and seem to become angry more easily than others. Doctors are not sure why this is so, but possible causes include an inherited tendency, early childhood learning, or living in a family in which members failed to learn how to properly communicate their emotions.

The popular notion that venting your anger is healthy has turned out to be false. Doctors now know that freely expressing your anger in the heat of the moment actually escalates the emotion and does little to help anger subside. Instead, the best solution seems to be finding out what triggers your anger so you can find ways to deal with those issues.

Of course, if your anger is so out of control that it’s affecting your relationship or your job, or if you feel the urge to hit someone, seek help. Talk to your doctor about your anger and ask him or her to refer you to a counselor. Experts say that some people with extreme anger may be able to moderate their emotions in about 10 weeks or less with counseling.
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