What is Anger and What Causes It?

Before you learn to deal with your anger and manage it in a safe and healthy way, you need to make sure that you understand what it is, and how it can affect your life. By understanding just what anger is and how it arises in various situations, you can more effectively tackle the anger and resolve it quickly and without further aggravation of said anger. This guide is here to describe just about everything you need to know to become fully aware of what anger is and perhaps more importantly, how it can affect you if left unmanaged.

The evolutionary reasoning behind anger

Believe it or not, but there are actually people who specialize in anger for a living! And what all of these experts agree upon is that anger is a natural emotion that developed and stuck around as a way of survival. Think about it – have you ever gotten irritated or angry when you were hungry and haven’t eaten in a while? Or haven’t gotten enough sleep the night before? By making you angry (or more accurately irritable in these cases), your body is telling you that you need to change something in order to survive. In this case it means getting you to get some food into your body, or take a nap respectively.

Similarly, we may become angry to any real more tangible threat that is facing us, such as other people or even inanimate objects. Something as silly as stubbing your toe on the door on your way out to work can make you angry because that edge of the door was a threat to you (obviously not enough to make you full-blown mad, but enough to get you irritated).

Anger to protect others

As humans with relationships that we treasure, anger not only is a way to protect ourselves, but to protect others as well. You see this all the time when someone you know is being wronged and you instinctually come out and defend them either verbally or even physically in some cases. This sort of response is really enlightening as it shows that anger truly does have some greater purpose.

Anger as a secondary emotion

Even though you can just be outright angry about something, you may also be feeling angry as a result of a number of other emotions. Things like being sad or frightened, or lonely can cause anger simply because your body is telling you that something is not right. In other words, you become angry because you are sad which you know is not a good thing. This is very important to keep in mind whenever evaluating your anger, as the reality of the situation may be that you are more sad about something than angry, which will affect how you deal with your emotions. Especially if you are lashing out at seemingly small things, try and think about whether the anger you are exhibiting is actually due to some other deep-seated emotion.

Anger causes physical changes to your body

This may be surprising for many people who think that anger is simply all in someone’s head. However, the very emotion of anger causes things like an increased heart rate or blood pressure changing. Adrenaline may also increase in your body as a result of your anger signaling to your body that you are about to engage in a physical fight. While these physical changes do help serve a purpose in the short term, experiencing such effects in the long term can actually be detrimental to your health. This is something that we will discuss in further detail below.

Long term anger is bad for us!

In addition to the adrenaline mentioned above, anger may also release cortisol into our bodies. Both of these hormones are the same ones that our bodies release when we are stressed and similar to extended periods of stress, being angry for too often and too long can have potentially disastrous effects on your body. For example, your blood pressure may increase with any occurrence of anger, but if you are consistently angry those blood pressure levels may rise to extreme levels. This can lead to serious health problems such as suffering a stroke or even cardiac arrest. You may also start to experience consistent pain your back and head areas, which is obviously not good either.

In fact, the associated problems with prolonged periods of anger are not just physical but psychological as well. For example, constantly being angry can lead to depression or a dip in self-confidence. You may also be so angry all the time that it leads to some sort of self-injury, either accidental or on purpose. This has realistically occurred to most people at some point in time – you may have been so angry that you pounded your desk over and over, or punched a wall a few times. This sort of behavior is the result of being too angry without allowing yourself to resolve the anger in more constructive ways.

Very severe cases of anger can even lead you down the path of other serious psychological problems as well. Many studies have shown that those who are angry all the time are more likely to become an alcoholic, or even become addicted to various illegal substances. And while such situations are truly rare occurrences reserved for people who have serious anger issues, it is not something to overlook. Within the blink of an eye, this can turn into you if you do not have good habits in place for dealing with anger the right way.

Anger is a natural emotion (but one that needs to be kept in check)

Even though anger can be somewhat irrational or unwanted, it is a natural emotional response nonetheless. It is a natural response to help us take action to help us survive, or to help and protect others that are close to us. Anger can even be a response to other more relevant emotions such as sadness or loneliness. Whatever the cause of anger is, it is always important to keep in mind though that anger needs to be managed and handled with the utmost care. Not only can a failure to do so lead to physical changes in your body that can lead to more serious health issues, but it can also lead to psychological issues as well that are just as damaging to your overall health and wellbeing, if not more so. Hopefully you now have a better idea of what anger is and why it is so important to manage and handle your anger in a healthy way!