Know If You Need Anger Management

Anger is a natural emotional response to a personal infraction or offense; it arises when one feels they have been wronged or treated unfairly. [1][2][3]However, if you find yourself responding to many situations with anger and/or violence, it may be time to seek anger management treatment. Experiencing frequent anger can be bad for your body: it is associated with negative health outcomes such as an increased risk of heart disease, particularly among men. [4] It is common for people who have trouble with anger management to seek treatment from mental health professionals. Anger management programs can be effective in helping people control and express their anger in appropriate ways.[5]


Recognizing Causes and Signs of Anger

  1. Run through a history of your behavior. Ask yourself if you often react violently to anger. If you break things, attack people or otherwise get aggressive, this is one of the main warning signs of anger control issues. You will want to seek treatment with a counselor before you hurt yourself or others.[6]
    • Assess whether you often find yourself in arguments with friends, family or acquaintances. Although arguments can be common in relationships, those that escalate quickly and happen very frequently can be signs of an anger control problem.
    • Go back through your track record with the law. Look into whether you have had frequent problems with the law or driving rage that led to traffic tickets.
  2. Decide if you often find yourself holding in feelings of anger. Not all anger is expressed openly. If you are incited to anger that you hold in, you may have benefit from anger management treatment.
    • Take note of how you respond to both the more obvious anger-eliciting situations, such as if someone is very rude to you, as well as more every day activities, such as watching television, commuting, driving or working in general.
  3. Pay attention to your body. Anger is a powerful and highly visceral emotion, often leaving a trace on your body. Take note of how your body feels and pay attention to particular signs of anger.
    • There are several bodily signs of anger. These include grinding of the teeth, clenching of the fists, headache or stomach ache, an increased heart rate, feeling hot or dizzy, redness of the face, having sweaty palms, or clenching of the fists or general tensing of your body. [7]
  4. Try to set feelings of anger aside. People with anger control issues can have trouble concentrating once they feel anger. They may be unable to compromise, feel empathy or accept that other people's views are different from their own.[8]
    • Some people find that they channel this obsession with an angry feeling with sarcasm, pacing and raising their voices. You may find that you lose your sense of humor quickly when anger starts to rise.

Assessing the Costs of Anger

  1. Check in on your relationships. One sign that you may benefit from anger management treatment is if your anger is having a negative impact on others or your relationships with them.[9]
    • Do others end up hurt physically or emotionally after you have an episode of anger? Do you find yourself losing social connections because of your anger? Do you find yourself regretting the way you treated others as a result of your angry outbursts? If so, then the costs of your anger are steep and you may benefit from anger management.[10]
    • Because of their hostility, individuals with anger issues tend to have fewer friends. Social support is an important factor that can help protect from stress and illness.[11][12]
  2. Make a list about how anger negatively impacts your body. Frequent anger can make you feel bad, and be bad for you.[4] If you find yourself having frequent headaches or other bodily distress and think this may be caused by your anger, you may benefit from anger management.
    • Keep in mind that some of the negative consequences of anger on your body cannot be felt, but the costs are still real. For example, frequently experiencing anger increases one's risk of heart disease, particularly among men. [4]
  3. Take note of whether you are breaking objects. Anger causes individuals to lash out and sometimes at objects, by damaging or destroying them. If you find yourself hitting, breaking, or damaging objects, you may benefit from anger management. [13]
  4. Pay attention to your attitude. Angry people are cynical of others.[11] Cynicism can involve a self-righteous attitude whereby an individual thinks that the things that make her angry are not things she would ever do herself.
    • For example, if a driver was holding up traffic because he did not realize the light had turned green, she might think, "only an idiot would do that" when in reality it is fairly easy to get distracted at a red light. [14] If you think anger is causing you to view the world in a negative way, you may benefit from anger management treatment.
  5. Check your consumption of alcohol and other drugs. Individuals with anger issues tend to consume more alcohol and other drugs than individuals without anger issues. Over-consumption of substances can be bad for health and can lead to social and other emotional problems.[11]
  6. Pay attention to your well-being. Ask yourself whether your anger is making you feel bad, either through the consequences of your behavior, or the way it is making you think about the world around you, or both.
    • If feelings of anger and the situations your anger gets you into is taking a toll on your subjective well-being, it may be time to seek out anger management.[8]

Deciding Which Treatment Option Is Best for You

  1. Figure out your options. There are many different approaches to anger management and many different ways to get treatment for anger issues.
    • There is no need to restrict yourself to only one approach; if you try one approach and you are not satisfied with the outcome, after you're sure you've given it an honest attempt, try moving on to the next treatment option or try combining multiple techniques.
  2. Learn about treatments that focus on your thoughts. Some treatments emphasize changing patterns of thinking or provide techniques to become and remain calm.
    • One approach focuses on relaxation. Relaxation techniques include deep breathing, imagining relaxing imagery, or slow exercises such as yoga; all of these techniques can help to quell anger. Relaxation techniques may be the best fit for you if you enjoy reducing stress primarily through your body. [4]
    • Another approach is called cognitive re-structuring, which just means to change the way that you think. This approach emphasizes the use of logic and avoidance of certain words such as "never" or "always" to overcome the thoughts that cause or contribute to anger. This approach may be the best fit for you if you often find yourself in your head exacerbating your anger with certain thoughts or ways of thinking.[15]
  3. Learn about treatments that prioritize behavior or environment change. Some treatments emphasize direct, actionable change as a way to reduce actual elicit of anger. These can be used in isolation or in combination with techniques that focus on changing ways of thinking.
    • One method emphasizes the use of problem solving. Sometimes frequent anger is not necessarily an overreaction to events but reflects an adaptive response to try to overcome real and important problems that have been difficult to surmount. Taking a problem-focused approach may be your best option if you feel this is true of your situation and your relationship with anger. [4]
    • Sometimes it may be best to change your environment. In some cases, there are factors in your environment that contribute to excessive anger and one effective way to manage anger can be to work to change your environment in some way. For example, if your job has many triggers that make you angry, considering applying for a new job that you think would make you happier or less angry. This may be best for you if you have identified a specific environmental factor, just as your job, that is greatly contributing to your anger.
  4. Search online for resources. There are blogs and websites dedicated to helping people accept and overcome anger management problems. This may be a good resource if you are having trouble admitting your problem to others.
  5. Visit a psychologist or counselor in-person. Ask your family doctor for a recommendation to a psychologist or counselor. When you call the counselor or psychologist's office, you may ask for their recommendation on who is most appropriate to see to help you work through your anger management.
    • For another way to find in-person treatment options, search the internet for “anger management treatment” and your city name or visit to find a psychologist near you. [4]
  6. Look for anger management books online or at your local library. These may contain worksheets that can help you more concretely identify anger elicitors and help you to determine the best treatment approach for you.
    • For example, a worksheet may help you to determine that you are often in your head and that specific thoughts are contributing to your anger, which might lead you to focus on seeking a cognitive re-structuring approach.
  7. Buy a Punching Bag and a pair of boxing gloves. You'll not only release your anger in a healthy and positive way,but you'll get a great workout.

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