Anger according to American Psychological Association is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong. Although, anger can be a good thing but excessive of it can cause problems — can wreak havoc on your body. Anger can cause high blood pressure, migraines, gastrointestinal issues, and rapid heart rate. As a biological response, anger releases huge amounts of cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream, which over the long term, interfere with the body’s ability to heal itself. Anger can absolutely harm you or even kill you due to the wear and tear it has on your body.
Types of Anger
There are three types of anger that an individual manifests according to experts:
- Outward Anger – Shouting, cursing, throwing or breaking things, and being abusive physically or verbally towards others are some of its traits.
- Inward Anger – Reflects traits like negative self-talk, restricting things that make you happy, harming and isolating yourself.
- Passive Anger – Includes traits like being sarcastic, mocking others, sulking, and giving someone a taste of silent treatment.
If you’re prone to losing your temper, here are some important reasons to stay calm.
An angry outburst puts your heart at great risk: Most physically damaging is anger’s effect on your cardiac health. “In the two hours after an angry outburst, the chance of having a heart attack doubles,” says Chris Aiken, MD, an instructor in clinical psychiatry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and director of the Mood Treatment Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“Constructive anger — the kind where you speak up directly to the person you are angry with and deal with the frustration in a problem-solving manner — is not associated with heart disease,” and is actually a very normal, healthy emotion, says Aiken.
High risk of stroke: If you’re prone to lashing out, beware. A study found there was three times higher risk of having a stroke from a blood clot to the brain or bleeding within the brain during the two hours after an angry outburst.
“To move into positive coping, you need to first identify what your triggers, and then figure out how to change your response,” says Mary Fristad, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Ohio State University. Instead of losing your temper, “Do some deep breathing. Use assertive communication skills. You might even need to change your environment by getting up and walking away,” she added.
Anger weakens your immune system: If you’re mad all the time, you just might find yourself feeling sick more often. In one study, Harvard University scientists found that in healthy people, simply recalling an angry experience from their past caused a six-hour dip in levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, the cells’ first line of defense against infection.
Anger problems can make your anxiety worse: If you’re a worrier, it’s important to note that anxiety and anger can go hand-in-hand. In a 2012 study published in the journal Cognitive Behavior Therapy, researchers found that anger can exacerbate symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition characterized by an excessive and uncontrollable worry that interferes with a person’s daily life.
Anger is also linked to depression: Numerous studies have linked depression with aggression and angry outbursts, especially in men. Advice for someone struggling with depression mixed with anger is to get busy and stop thinking so much. Any activity which fully absorbs you is a good cure for anger; you’ve to get that going.
Hostility can hurt your lungs: Researchers said you still could be hurting your lungs if you’re a perpetually angry, hostile person.
Anger can shorten your life: Experts say it really true that happy people live longer. “Stress is very tightly linked to general health. If you’re stressed and angry, you’ll shorten your lifespan,” says Fristad.
If you’re not someone who’s comfortable showing negative emotions, then work with a therapist or practice on your own to be more expressive. “Learning to express anger in an appropriate way is actually a healthy use of anger,” says Fristad. “If someone infringes on your rights, you need to tell them. Directly tell people what you’re mad about, and what you need,” she says.
Note: It’s healthy and normal to feel angry from time to time. However, if you don’t take time to manage and recover from your anger, you will be at risk of suffering from negative effects.