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Anger management

Anger management is a form of counselling to help you cope with angry feelings that affect your health, work, behaviour or personal relationships.

Anger is a natural feeling that affects everyone.

Things that can make you feel angry include:

  • losing someone you love (grief)
  • sexual frustration
  • being tired, hungry or in pain
  • coming off certain medicines or drugs
  • pre-menstrual syndrome
  • being insulted
  • feeling under threat
  • feeling that you are being ignored or not taken seriously
  • being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • something in the present reminding you of unpleasant memories

Mild anger can be expressed as annoyance or irritation.

However, some people become angry frequently and inappropriately, and may be unable to control their actions once they become angry.

Once anger gets out of control like this, it can cause problems with relationships, work and even the law. Uncontrolled anger can lead to arguments and physical fights. It can cloud your thinking and judgment and may lead to actions that are unreasonable or irrational.

In a recent survey for the Mental Health Foundation, 28% of adults said they worry about how angry they sometimes feel, and 32% have a friend or relative who has problems dealing with anger.

Physical signs of anger

Everyone has a physical response to anger. Your body releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which increase your heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and breathing (the "fight or flight" response).

This allows you to focus on the threat and react quickly. However, it can also mean that you do not think straight, and may react in ways you might regret later. 

When your body has to cope with large amounts of stress hormones due to angry outbursts, you may become ill.

How anger can affect your health

Intense and uncontrolled anger is linked to health conditions such as:

If anger is hidden or buried, it can lead to:

Helping yourself

Dealing with anger in a healthy way includes:

  • recognising when you get angry
  • taking time to cool down
  • reducing your general stress levels in life

You can also look at what makes you angry and how you deal with those feelings. Find out about self-help tips for anger management or see the Mental Health Foundation’s Cool Down booklet, which includes advice on where to get professional help.

Anger management

For some people, self-help techniques will not be enough and they will need to attend an anger management course to learn how to manage their anger.

Anger management usually involves a combination of one-to-one sessions with a counsellor or therapist and group work with other people with anger management issues.

Read more about how anger management works.

If you think you need anger management, contact your GP. There may be an NHS-funded course or course run by a voluntary organisation in your area. However, there could be a waiting list.

The alternative is to pay for a course or counsellor privately.

Make sure that any therapist you see is registered with a professional organisation, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

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