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Anger management: Your questions answered
Anger isn't always bad, but it must be handled appropriately. Consider the purpose anger serves and the best approach to anger management.By Mayo Clinic staff
Anger itself isn't a problem — it's how you handle it. Consider the nature of anger, as well as how to manage anger and what to do when you're confronted by someone whose anger is out of control.
What is anger?
Anger is a natural response to perceived threats. It's a warning bell that tells you when something is wrong. Anger causes your body to release adrenaline — the fight-or-flight hormone — which can increase muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure. Anger might trigger or encompass other emotions, such as sadness, disappointment or frustration. Anger becomes a problem only when you don't manage it in a healthy way.
So it's not 'bad' to feel angry?
Being angry isn't always a bad or negative thing. Being angry can motivate people to listen to your concerns. It can prevent others from walking all over you. It can motivate you to get involved with causes that you care about. The key is managing your anger in a healthy way.
What causes people to get angry?
You might have many things to feel threatened about — from financial crises and peer pressure to drug addiction and war — and some people respond in a negative way. Still, most people don't walk around feeling mad all the time. When someone explodes with anger, there's usually a triggering event — such as a disagreement at work or being stuck in traffic — that brings a mix of simmering emotions to the boiling point.
Your personal history feeds your reactions to anger as well. That's why some people react so angrily to certain situations, such as losing a parking space, while others take it in stride. For example, if you were taught that being angry is a negative thing, you might not know how to express anger appropriately — so your frustrations simmer and make you miserable, or build up until you explode in an angry outburst. In other cases, changes in brain chemistry or underlying medical conditions can trigger angry outbursts.Next page
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- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 22, 2011.