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Anger attacks

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Everyone experiences a tantrum from time to time. However, frequent anger attacks can become a problem for yourself or those around you, especially if they are accompanied by aggressive behavior. This article provides information to help you better understand how anger attacks occur and how to manage your anger and tantrums more effectively.

Anger issues

Anger issues refer to difficulties in managing and expressing anger in a healthy and constructive manner. You may experience frequent, intense, or inappropriate anger, which can lead to problems in your personal, professional, and social life.

Anger attacks can be a manifestation of unresolved anger issues. With chronic anger issues you may experience these sudden outbursts as a result of accumulated stress and frustration.

 

Anger attacks

An anger attack is an intense emotional reaction where you lose control of your anger. These attacks can range from brief outbursts to prolonged episodes accompanied sometimes by aggressive behavior. Anger attacks can occur at any age and are triggered by various factors, including stress and frustration.

 

Difference between anger, rage and aggression

Anger, rage and aggression are similar. Yet each form has different characteristics and intensity.

 

What is anger?

Anger is an emotion. You feel this emotion when there is a conflict between your expectations and reality. Its intensity and duration vary. Anger is expressed in forms of irritation, frustration or even indignation.

 

What is rage?

Rage is an intense and uncontrolled form of anger characterized by extreme emotional and physical arousal. It goes beyond normal anger, often resulting in aggressive or violent behavior. People experiencing rage may feel overwhelmed by their emotions and may act impulsively without considering the consequences. You may also experience feelings of helplessness and frustration.

 

What is agression?

Aggression is the behavior resulting from emotion and anger. The behavior is aimed at causing harm to a person or the environment. Aggression can be both physical and verbal and vary in form.

Different causes of aggression may include:

 

  • Anger;
  • Frustration;
  • Anxiety;
  • Uncertainty.

 

What causes anger attacks?

Anger attacks usually occur due to a combination of several causes. It is impossible to pinpoint exactly what causes you to experience frequent tantrums. Anger attacks are often a manifestation of underlying causes. Consider emotion regulation issues or after a traumatic event. In most cases, it is a combination of multiple factors.
You may experience anger if you have mental health issues, but an attack is also quite possible without an established diagnosis. In many cases, the trigger is stress or trauma. But other factors also play a role.



Common causes of anger attacks are:

 

  • Character and disposition
    Character and disposition play a role in temper tantrums. If you have a character with high temperament, you may be predisposed to experience more frequent tantrums.
  • Education and environment
    If you often see anger issues in your immediate environment, you have an increased chance of adopting the tantrums. During your upbringing, you learn how to handle certain situations and emotions. If you have not learned this, you may find this difficult later in life.
  • Hormones
    Hormonal changes during menopause, PMS or increased testosterone levels play a role in experiencing anger or rage more quickly.
  • Brain injury
    A frontal brain injury causes disturbed emotions in the brain. Impulses are less well controlled and you become angry more quickly.
  • Physical and psychological factors
    Physical and psychological factors can play a role in anger attacks. Examples include:

 

Symptoms

The symptoms of an anger attack vary from person to person and situation to situation. In general, you experience intense anger that arises quickly and is difficult to control.

 

The intense anger may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as:

 

  • Increased heart rate;
  • Sweating;
  • Trembling;
  • Tension in the body;
  • Red face or just a pale face.

 

When you experience a tantrum, your behavior may also change. Examples of behaviors during a tantrum may include:

 

  • Aggression;
  • Yelling;
  • Swearing;
  • Breaking things;
  • Becoming just withdrawn and quiet;
  • Exhibiting depressive behavior;
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed;

 

How do you deal with these attacks?

These advices will help you during a tantrum:

 

  • Breathe very consciously
    When you get angry, your breathing speeds up. By breathing in deeply and out slowly, you calm your nervous system. This reduces the intensity of your anger.
  • Try to understand the cause
    When you know the cause of your anger, you understand your reaction better and learn how to react differently next time.
  • Relax
    Relaxation exercises such as yoga and meditation help you manage your emotions better. These exercises help you relax when you feel you are getting angry.
  • Be open and honest
    Anger often arises from miscommunication or a lack of communication. By speaking openly and honestly about your feelings, you increase understanding and can resolve conflicts.
  • Find distractions
    Distraction may help when you feel intense anger rising. You can do this by taking a walk or reading a book. You can better manage and calm your emotions this way.
  • Engage in self-reflection
    Anger can stem from your own insecurities and fears. With self-knowledge and self-acceptance, you can learn to deal with certain situations and manage emotions better.
  • Learn self-control
    There are trainings to develop self-control. Self-control is part of aggression regulation training.
  • Use a feeling thermometer
    Use a feelings thermometer to visualize and better understand your emotions. In a feeling thermometer, you indicate how high you are in your emotion at that moment.

 

Tips for my partner or other adults 

A tantrum can cause a difficult situation for you as a partner or those around you. Realize at that moment that that person is losing control of his or her emotions.
The following advice will help you deal with a tantrum:

 

  • Stay calm
    By staying calm yourself and not getting angry, you prevent the situation from escalating. You thus make it possible to talk calmly at a later time.
  • Give space
    By avoiding eye contact, you give the other person space to express feelings of anger.
  • Listen to the other person
    Actively listen to the other person’s feelings so you can understand why the other person is angry and show understanding.
  • Show understanding
    By showing understanding and acknowledging feelings, you can reduce intense anger and frustration. This way, you can talk about it calmly at a later time.
  • Emphasize the solution
    Avoid making the other person feel guilty or responsible. Put the focus primarily on resolving the conflict.
  • Set your own boundaries
    Give the other person space to express emotions and set your own boundaries in what you accept. For example, someone may express anger and not hit.
  • Stay respectful
    During a tantrum, it helps when you remain respectful and respectful of the other person. Avoid provocation. This exacerbates the situation.
  • Seek help
    Remember that a tantrum is not personal. Often it has to do with someone’s past. If your partner has frequent tantrums and it is affecting your relationship, help may be a solution. A therapist can offer support in your relationship.

 

Treating anger issues

Anger attacks and underlying ander issues are well treatable with therapy. The most common forms of therapy for anger issues are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, STEPPS training or ACT. In some cases, medication helps reduce symptoms. This is sometimes used in conjunction with psychotherapy.

 

Psychotherapy

In psychotherapy, you identify the root causes of your anger. You develop new and more effective coping strategies. Cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy and interpersonal therapy are examples of therapies to treat anger.

 

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

If anger attacks are recurrent and follow a significant pattern over time, especially if there is no particular trigger, then there could be a case of Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). IED is a diagnosable mental health disorder with a specific pattern of behavior.

The impact of IED is generally more severe and long-term, leading to significant impact on personal and social life. In such cases, we advice to seek professional help.

 

Stress-management techniques

Mindfulness, breathing exercises, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation reduce stress and help you manage your anger.

 

Anger management courses

During an anger management course, you will learn effective coping strategies for anger.
To understand why you are having an anger attack, it helps to look at the underlying triggers as well as observe the symptoms. The underlying cause of the anger attacks helps determine what help can be offered.

 

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publish-icon Published - 10 Jun 2024
Erna has extensive experience with anxiety symptoms, trauma, anger management, depression and mild personality issues. She works from an open and accepting basic attitude. Erna works with you on regaining your own control, getting (back) into balance and learning to cope with challenges as well as possible.

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