Stress, anxiety and depression

Why am I so angry?

Anger tells us we need to take action to put something right. It gives us strength and energy, and motivates us to act.

But for some people, anger can get out of control and cause problems with relationships, work and even the law.

Long-term, unresolved anger is linked to health conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and heart disease.

It's important to deal with anger in a healthy way that doesn't harm you or anyone else.

How common are anger problems?

In a survey by the Mental Health Foundation, 32% of people said they had a close friend or family member who had trouble controlling their anger.

Even though anger problems can have such a harmful effect on our family, work and social lives, most people who have them don't ask for help.

Sometimes people don't recognise that their anger is a problem for themselves and for other people. They may see other people or things as the problem instead.

What makes us angry

Anger is different for everyone. Things that make some people angry don't bother others at all. But there are things that make lots of us feel angry, including:

  • being treated unfairly and feeling powerless to do anything about it
  • feeling threatened or attacked
  • other people not respecting your authority, feelings or property
  • being interrupted when you are trying to achieve a goal

Anger can also be a part of grief. If you are struggling to come to terms with losing someone close to you, the charity Cruse Bereavement Care can help.

How we react to anger

How you react to feeling angry depends on lots of things, including:

  • the situation you are in at the moment – if you're dealing with lots of problems or stress in your life, you may find it harder to control your anger
  • your family history – you may have learned unhelpful ways of dealing with anger from the adults around you when you were a child
  • events in your past – if you have experienced events that made you angry but felt you couldn't express your anger, you may still be coping with those angry feelings

Some people express anger verbally, by shouting. Sometimes this can be aggressive, involving swearing, threats or name-calling.

Some people react violently and lash out physically, hitting other people, pushing them or breaking things. This can be particularly damaging and frightening for other people.

Some of us show anger is passive ways, for example, by ignoring people or sulking.

Other people may hide their anger or turn it against themselves. They can be very angry on the inside but feel unable to let it out.

People who tend to turn anger inwards may harm themselves as a way of coping with the intense feelings they have. Young people are most likely to self harm.

Anger or aggression?

Some people see anger and aggression as the same thing. In fact, anger is an emotion that we feel while aggression is how some of us behave when we feel angry.

Not everyone who feels angry is aggressive, and not everyone who acts aggressively is angry. Sometimes people behave aggressively because they feel afraid or threatened.

Read more about anxiety, fear and anger.

Alcohol and some illegal drugs can make people act more aggressively.

How to handle anger better

For more advice on dealing with anger, you can:

 

Page last reviewed: 31/10/2016

Next review due: 31/10/2019

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