Understanding Anger Management

Anger management is a therapeutic intervention used to teach patients to regulate and cope with disordered anger. Patients are given tools whereby they can express healthy amounts of anger in healthy ways.  

Anger in and of itself is not unhealthy, and it is often a normal part of life that can help[ individuals process difficult times. When unregulated, however, anger can become toxic and destructive. INdividuals with dysregulated anger can have related conditions that require intervention.

Disordered Anger  – When Anger is Unhealthy

Anger takes many forms, and someone experiencing anger can do anything from scream to run away. Even in healthy occurrences of anger, individuals can experience increased heart rate and mild stress temporarily.

When a person cannot process or release the anger, however, the situation can be quite serious. In cases of disordered anger, the anger can become destructive to the individual’s life and the lives of those around them. Individuals with destructive levels of anger need professional intervention from a mental health professional. 

The Frequency of Anger Disorders

It is estimated that Intermittent Explosive Anger affects as much as seven percent of the U.S. population. In adolescents, it may be higher, though more difficult to recognize. 

Anger Management Therapy

Patients with Anger Disorders are often frustrated or feel as if there is little hope, given the destructive nature of the disorder. It is important for individuals with anger management issues to understand that therapy can work for them and that interventions can make a difference.  

Anger in this type of disorder is a symptom of a disease. Mental health professionals have the knowledge and wherewithal to treat this symptom. Patients should not see their disordered anger as a personal flaw that cannot be escaped.  

Therapy can help a patient with anger management issues learn new pattern of behaviors. It can also teach a patient new coping skills and resistance to triggers. Medication can also help in some anger management scenarios. 

The Signs of Anger Disorder  

Anger disorders present themselves in many different ways. The most commonly associated behaviors include aggressive behaviors such as shouting or raging. Aggressive outbursts can be easier to identify for both the patient and the people around them.

It is important to realize that anger can also come in passive forms that are more difficult to identify. This type of anger can take the form of apathy or sarcasm, but can also come with self-destructive habits. 

Additional symptoms of anger disorders include:

  • family and friends always feeling like they have to be “careful” around the individual
  • High levels of irritability
  • Instigating fights
  • Tamping down on negative emotions
  • Never focusing on the positive
  • Fixating on the negative
  • Acts of violence against friends and family
  • Reckless driving
  • Destructive tendencies w/ property
  • Making threats of violence

The symptoms of an Anger Disorder do not always seem evident to others. Therapy can work with patients to identify the unique features and triggers of their situation.

An anger disorder is a disease that requires treatment and compassion, but victims of someone with an anger disorder should not stay in dangerous situations out of compassion. Those victimized by someone with an anger disorder should seek help and counseling.  

Anger as a Sign of Depression

Something not commonly known is that inappropriate anger can be a sign of depression. Depression can cause a toxic internal monologue that causes the individual to act out in frustration. Depression, therefore, has a much wider range of symptoms than the stereotype would suggest and can compound anger issues in someone with disordered anger. 

Counseling and medication can benefit patients with disordered anger and depression, helping them to develop better coping skills and understanding of themselves.

Managing Anger

The nature and intensity of disordered anger makes many patients feel that they will never be able to control or manage it. Managing anger is a balance between not bottling feelings but also not turning to destructive patterns. Counseling can help an individual find their own unique balance and way through anger management. 

Letting the anger go in constructive ways is key. If you experience disordered anger, the following techniques can help:

  • Take a beat, then speak. Anger can make us say impulsive and hurtful things. When you begin to feel angry, take a moment to pause and think before speaking. 
  • Give calm voice to feelings. Calming down doesn’t mean not addressing your feelings or ignoring them. Give voice to the feelings you experienced in a calm way. 
  • Forgive. Don’t hold on to the negative after-effects of a disagreement. Release your anger and forgive. 
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise is a great way to release excess energy. It also can help you maintain a better balance in life. 

These techniques can be effective with mild cases of disordered anger, but working with a counselor is key to long term success. Any patient with an anger disorder should consider seeking the help of a mental health professional.

Anger Management Therapy

There are several types of therapeutic intervention that can help those with anger disorders. These can include therapy, medication, inpatient treatment or some combination thereof. 


In individual therapy, the patient works with the therapist to identify triggers and develop new coping skills. Patients may also consider group therapy in which patients with similar issues discuss their experience with anger management.  

Inpatient Treatment

Patients whose anger issues are comorbid with severe depression or those with violent, disordered anger may require inpatient treatment. In inpatient treatment, the patient stays in a facility in the care of professionals for some days and receives individual and group therapy,


Medication can also help anger disorders. Medication can offer short term and long term solutions to anger management.