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What causes anger management problems?

Anger can be a common and even healthy emotion, but when angry feelings get out of control, they can be at the root of several mental health conditions. What causes anger issues? There can be many reasons why anger can get out of control. We will explore some common causes of anger issues and discuss how they can affect mental health. We will also share some strategies for managing these conditions.

What Are the Types of Anger Disorders?

Anger issues and anger disorders are two different things, although they can look similar and have similar results. To be diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, you will have to meet specific criteria for these disorders found in the diagnostic and statistical manual. In addition, anger issues can be a symptom of other mental health conditions, such as substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, or depression.

Common Causes of Anger Issues

Angry outbursts that affect physical and mental health can be caused by any number of issues. There are several mental health disorders in which feeling angry is a common symptom. But not all anger is caused by mental health conditions. Sometimes it is the result of grief, family upbringing, or other environmental factors. Let's take a look at some common causes of anger issues.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Intermittent explosive disorder is defined by a series of impulsive, aggressive, or violent behaviors. People with intermittent explosive disorder often overreact to situations in a way that is entirely out of proportion. Explosive episodes will last less than 30 minutes and may seem to come out of nowhere. However, someone experiencing intermittent explosive disorder may feel angry or irritated most of the time.

Bipolar Disorder

Once known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a condition recognized by periods of elevated mood and periods of depression in a person's life. During an elevated mood (known as mania or hypomania), a person may feel unusually elated, energetic, or irritated. Angry outbursts are a common occurrence in someone with BPD.


While depression is most commonly characterized by feelings of sadness, someone with depression can also feel higher levels of irritation and anger. In severe cases, the person with depression may attempt self-harm.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a condition in which a person experiences obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. Their thoughts may drive them to perform certain rituals due to an irrational belief that if they don't, something bad will happen. A study performed in 2011 found that excessive anger is also a symptom of this disorder. Experts hypothesize that these outbursts may be due to an inability to control obsessive thoughts or if they are unable to complete a ritual that they deem essential.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder is a mental health condition that affects school-age children. Those who experience ODD are often angry, and irritated, and engage in bouts of uncontrollable anger.

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is a common cause of anger issues. When under the influence of alcohol, many people engage in physical violence and blow situations out of proportion. This can be even more evident if they have an underlying mental health condition. Certain drugs can also have this effect on behavior.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can also make it difficult to manage anger. Symptoms begin in childhood and continue into adulthood. Some common symptoms of ADHD are difficulty focusing, restlessness, and poor time management. They may also be subject to anger attacks.

Your Childhood Experiences and Upbringing

How you process relationship issues at an early age can also contribute to an anger problem. If one of your caregivers experienced alcohol abuse, for example, and yelled a lot in the household, then you may have learned this way to express yourself.

If you experienced abuse or dealt with other traumatic events in your childhood or teenage years, you may be more subject to frustration triggers and tend to rage.

Anger may also play a role in grief. If you have lost someone you love, the grieving process can include moments of uncontrolled anger.

What are the signs of an anger management problem?

There can be both psychological and physical signs that you experience anger issues.

Emotional Symptoms of Anger-Related Problems

Some emotional symptoms of anger management problems include:

  • Frustration
  • Irritability
  • Stress
  • Rage
  • Anxiety
  • Feel guilty after attacks of anger

Physical Symptoms of Anger Issues

Physical symptoms of anger include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Tingling in the limbs
  • Muscle tension
  • Heart palpitations

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Anger Issues

Anger is a powerful emotion. In the short term, anger issues can cause problems in relationships, and financial issues (from damages and litigation), increase the risk of car accidents, and create feelings of stress in your life. In the long term, uncontrolled anger can lead to health problems like a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and other illnesses and cause rifts in relationships, with potential negative impacts on your children.

Getting Help for Anger-Related Problems

The good news about anger is that you can get treatment to deal with your anger issues. Treatment options include therapy, support groups, classes, and, in some cases, medication.

Working Through the Root of Your Anger With Therapy

A mental health therapist can help you deal with your anger and other emotions in a more positive way. Mental health professionals are trained to help you process any trauma, work through alcohol dependency if this is an issue, and learn coping mechanisms to manage stress and anger and get control of your life. This can include relaxation techniques, learning how to express your emotions in a healthy way, and building better communication skills.

Anger Medication: Anti-Anger Drug Options

If you are experiencing a mental health disorder like depression, anxiety, or ADHD, medications may be prescribed by a medical or mental health professional to help manage the symptoms of these conditions. This can help control anger and other emotions that may be unbalanced.

Getting Help for Anger-Related Problems

To find an anger management therapist, you can visit trusted websites like SAMHSA, the ADAA, or NIMH to look for licensed professionals. Use the keyword "anger management" to narrow your search. Excessive anger can make you feel like you're not in control of your life. But treatment is available, so reach out for help to take back control.

Williamsburg Therapy Group on South Lamar offers therapy for any number of presenting issues, including therapy for anger issues. Our trained, doctoral-level professionals are here to help. Just give us a call, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right therapist for you.

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

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