Everyone feels angry once in a while. Anger can give you the energy you need to counter a threat, whether it’s a situation or a person. But when you’re chronically angry and have frequent outbursts, you can cause both social and physical problems.
Anger raises your blood pressure and releases stress hormones, such as cortisol. Anger makes it hard to think clearly in the moment. It can also put you or others in danger. Road rage, for instance, increases the risk that you wind up in an auto accident.
Frequent angry outbursts also damage your relationships. You may have trouble at home, at work, and at school if you can’t control your temper.
At The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, our experienced counselors offer anger management and other types of therapy that help address the underlying causes of your anger. We offer in-office as well as teletherapy sessions.
If you wonder why you’re angry all the time, following are a few of the most common factors that could be behind your rage.
You may have been “born that way”
Researchers have discovered that some babies are simply born with a lower tolerance for frustration than others are. You may be naturally more irritable and less able to regulate your emotions.
Your level of anger tolerance may be genetic. If your parents have trouble regulating their emotions, you may also. Of course, there’s also the question of nature v. nurture; you may have inherited a tendency toward a short fuse, you may have learned it, or it may be a little of both.
You may be struggling with trauma
Even if you don’t remember being abused as a child, your body does. Trauma can change your cells and alter the way your body functions.
If you do remember trauma — whether it was something that happened to you or something you witnessed — the anxiety and fear triggered by that event could be at the root of your anger.
Anyone who’s been in a life-threatening situation, including combat, abuse, or an accident, may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You may have angry outbursts when faced with triggers that remind you of the incident. The energy you devote to struggling with trauma could leave you depleted when you have to deal with life’s aggravations.
Your environment may contribute
Living under stressful conditions depletes your emotional reserves and may leave you feeling unsafe and threatened. Anger may be a natural response, but it may not be serving you.
If you belong to a minority group, if you struggle with income, or live in an unsafe neighborhood, you may not have the resources you need to deal with that “one last thing.” Finding yourself surrounded by others who are oppressed, mistreated, or frustrated people and feel angry may feed into your own anger.
If you’re a man, you could be depressed
Depression is usually associated with a “flat” affect and dampened emotions. But men who are depressed may instead exhibit intense crankiness and irritability. This often manifests in angry outbursts.
Depression is under-diagnosed in men, partly because of the difference in the way it manifests, when compared to women. However, men who are depressed are at increased risk for the complications of depression, including suicidal ideation and actions.
If you’re a man who’s prone to angry outbursts — or if you love one— an evaluation for depression can help. In addition to treating depression with CBT, you could benefit from anger management techniques that help you find more positive outlets for your emotions.
Anger is a normal emotion and may be a direct response to injustice, trauma, and other triggers in our life. However, if anger lasts too long or causes trouble in your relationships or work, you could benefit from anger management and other types of therapies to help you cope.
Would you benefit from anger management or a new way of handling stress? To find a new path forward, either in person or via teletherapy, contact our helpful team by phone or by using our online form today.