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  • Fact Sheet: Anger

    Anger is one of our most basic human emotions and is experienced by all people. Anger can be an adaptive response to a threat or possible harm and allows us to defend ourselves. Anger can also be an emotional response to being mistreated, emotionally hurt, or to our perception that an individual is attempting to take from us something of importance.

    The experience of anger is different for each person in regard to how intensely the person feels anger, how often anger is experienced, and the duration of the feeling. Each one of us has an anger threshold, or the amount of intensity or duration of a situation it requires to feel angry.

    Anger can be a constructive feeling, and handled in a positive way it can alert and motivate an individual. However, it can also be destructive with serious emotional (loss of pleasure), physiological (hypertension, high blood pressure), and psychological (depression) consequences in addition to other consequences imposed by school, work, or the law. Negatively demonstrated anger can also alienate family, friends, peers, and co-workers.

    Physiological Signs of Anger

    • Headaches
    • Feeling red or hot in the face and neck
    • Shaking/Trembling
    • Rapid Heart Rate
    • Clinching your fists or grinding your teeth

    Emotional Signs of Anger

    • Anxiety
    • Sadness or Depression
    • Resentment toward others
    • Lashing out at others
    • Feeling that you need to get away from the situation

    Other Signs of Anger

    • Losing your sense of humor
    • Raising your voice
    • Screaming or yelling
    • Pacing
    • Using sarcasm

    Signs that you may have an anger problem

    • Alienating those you love or trust
    • Family, friends and people close to you have made reference to your anger
    • Acting out verbally or physically against anyone
    • Getting into trouble at school, work, or the by the law
    • Feeling guilty about the way you reacted or treated others
    • Realizing that you have a pattern of “angry’ behavior

    Here are some proven strategies to help you manage your anger. See which ones work best for you:

    Recognize angry feelings

    —Ask yourself: Where is this anger coming from? What are the external and internal triggers involved?


    —Deep breathing and relaxing imagery can defuse anger (See Beating Stress Virtual Pamphlet).

    Cognitive Restructuring

    —Changing the way you think. When you’re angry, you tend to think in highly exaggerated, colorful terms. Try replacing these with more rational ones.

    Better Communication

    —Don't jump to conclusions! When in a heated discussion, don't say the first thing that enters your head. Slow down, think carefully, and listen carefully to the other person before answering.

    Use Humor

    —Imagining silly scenes or people can defuse anger. However, don't try to laugh off anger, and don't use harsh, sarcastic humor.

    Change your Environment

    —Your external surroundings or situations could be frustrating you. Identify the instances that continually anger you, and take small steps to change the situation or your reaction to it.

    Think about your reactions after the conflict or situation has occurred

    —Ask yourself: What worked? What did I do right? What could I do differently? What could I do next time to make things go more smoothly?

    Accept your natural, healthy feelings of anger

    —Accept how you have handled anger in the past and learn how to handle it in the future.

    A Personal Exercise

    —Think about a situation where you became angry and lost control. Identify the triggers. What could you have done differently? What do you plan on doing in that type of situation in the future?

    Additional Information about anger may be found on our Web-based Resources page.