Some anger issues may stem from another health condition or disorder. Treating the underlying condition may help reduce uncontrollable anger.
Anger is a natural, instinctive response to threats. Some anger is necessary for our survival.
Anger becomes a problem when you have trouble controlling it, causing you to say or do things you regret.
Learn more about identifying your triggers and managing your anger below.
Many things can trigger anger, including stress, family problems, and financial issues.
For some people, anger is caused by an underlying disorder, such as alcoholism or depression. Anger itself isn’t considered a disorder, but anger is a known symptom of several mental health conditions.
The following are some of the possible causes of anger issues.
Anger can be a symptom of depression, which is characterized as ongoing feelings of sadness and loss of interest lasting at least two weeks.
Anger can be suppressed or overtly expressed. The intensity of the anger and how it’s expressed varies from person to person.
If you have depression, you may experience other symptoms. These include:
- loss of energy
- feelings of hopelessness
- thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that’s characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. A person with OCD has unwanted, disturbing thoughts, urges, or images that drive them to do something repetitively.
For example, they may perform certain rituals, such as counting to a number or repeating a word or phrase, because of an irrational belief that something bad will happen if they don’t.
Anger may result from frustration with your inability to prevent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, or from having someone or something interfere with your ability to carry out a ritual.
Research shows that drinking alcohol increases aggression. Alcohol is a contributing factor in approximately half of all violent crimes committed in the United States.
Alcohol abuse, or alcoholism, refers to consuming too much alcohol at once or regularly.
Alcohol impairs your ability to think clearly and make rational decisions. It affects your impulse control and can make it harder for you to control your emotions.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and or impulsivity.
Symptoms usually start in early childhood and continue throughout a person’s life. Some people are not diagnosed until adulthood, which is sometimes referred to as adult ADHD.
Anger and short temper can also occur in people of all ages with ADHD. Other symptoms include:
- problems focusing
- poor time management or planning skills
Oppositional defiant disorder
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a behavioral disorder that affects 1 to 16 percent of school-age children. Common symptoms of ODD include:
- hot temper
Children with ODD are often easily annoyed by others. They may be defiant and argumentative.
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes dramatic shifts in your mood.
These intense mood shifts can range from mania to depression, although not everyone with bipolar disorder will experience depression. Many people with bipolar disorder may experience periods of anger, irritability, and rage.
During a manic episode, you may:
- be easily agitated
- feel euphoric
- have racing thoughts
- engage in impulsive or reckless behavior
During a depressive episode, you may:
- feel sad, hopeless, or tearful
- lose interest in things once enjoyed
- have thoughts of suicide
Intermittent explosive disorder
A person with intermittent explosive disorder (IED) has repeated episodes of aggressive, impulsive, or violent behavior. They may overreact to situations with angry outbursts that are out of proportion to the situation.
Episodes last less than 30 minutes and come on without warning. People with the disorder may feel irritable and angry most of the time.
Some common behaviors include:
- temper tantrums
- physical violence
- throwing things
People with IED may feel remorseful or embarrassed after an episode.
Anger is one of the stages of grief. Grief can come from the death of a loved one, a divorce or breakup, or from losing a job. The anger may be directed at the person who died, anyone else involved in the event, or inanimate objects.
Other symptoms of grief include:
Anger causes physical and emotional symptoms. While it’s normal to experience these symptoms on occasion, a person with anger issues tends to experience them more often and to a more severe degree.
Anger affects different parts of your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles. A 2011 study found that anger also causes an increase in testosterone levels and decrease in cortisol levels.
The physical signs and symptoms of anger include:
- increased blood pressure
- increased heart rate
- tingling sensation
- muscle tension
There are a number of emotions that go hand in hand with anger. You may notice the following emotional symptoms before, during, or after an episode of anger:
- feeling overwhelmed
Anger can manifest itself in a number of different ways. Not all anger is expressed in the same way. Anger and aggression can be outward, inward, or passive.
- Outward. This involves expressing your anger and aggression in an obvious way. This can include behavior such as shouting, cursing, throwing or breaking things, or being verbally or physically abusive toward others.
- Inward. This type of anger is directed at yourself. It involves negative self-talk, denying yourself things that make you happy or even basic needs, such as food. Self-harm and isolating yourself from people are other ways anger can be directed inward.
- Passive. This involves using subtle and indirect ways to express your anger. Examples of this passive aggressive behavior include giving someone the silent treatment, sulking, being sarcastic, and making snide remarks.
You may have anger issues if:
- you feel angry often
- you feel that your anger seems out of control
- your anger is impacting your relationships
- your anger is hurting others
- your anger causes you to say or do things you regret
- you’re verbally or physically abusive
If you believe your anger is out of control or if it’s negatively affecting your life or relationships, consider seeking help from a mental health professional.
A mental health professional can help determine if you have an underlying mental health condition that’s causing your anger issues and requires treatment.
Anger management can also include one or more of the following:
- relaxation techniques
- behavioral therapy
- depression, anxiety, or ADHD medications, if you’re diagnosed with any of these conditions
- anger management classes, which can be taken in person, by phone, or online
- anger management exercises at home
- support groups
Anger is a normal emotion, but if your anger seems out of control or is impacting your relationships, you may have anger issues.
A mental health professional can help you work through your anger and identify any underlying mental health conditions that may be a contributing factor. With anger management and other treatments, you can get your anger under control.