Letting Go of Anger and Anxiety

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photo credit: Sayan Puangkham)

By Dr. Elaine Townsend, Ed.D.

Per the American Psychological Association, anger is normal and typically a healthy emotion. It becomes harmful when we lose control and it becomes damaging (APA, 2018).

According to a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, close to 8 percent of adolescents display anger issues that qualify for a diagnoses of intermittent explosive disorder. However, anger issues aren’t limited to difficult teens (PsychGuides.com, 2018).

Individuals who have problems controlling anger can present with different types of anger disorders:

  • Chronic anger, which is prolonged, can impact the immune system and be the cause of other mental disorders.
  • Passive anger, which doesn’t always come across as anger and can be difficult to identify.
  • Self-inflicted anger, which is directed toward the self and may be caused by feelings of guilt.
  • Judgmental anger, which is directed toward others and may come with feelings of resentment.
  • Volatile anger, which involves sometimes spontaneous bouts of excessive or violent anger (PsychGuides.com, 2018).


Strong emotions can cause physical changes to the body. A few of these physical symptoms of anger are tingling, heart palpitations or tightening of the chest, increased blood pressure, headaches, pressure in the head or sinus cavities, and fatigue (PsychGuides.com). These are some of the same symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition that affects millions of individuals. Moreover, hostility and internalized anger contributed to the severity of their GAD symptoms. Experts suggests that anger and anxiety go hand in hand, and that increased levels of anger are uniquely related to GAD status (PsychCentral.com, 2015).

The use of relaxation techniques can help with calming down. Try deep breathing from the diaphragm and repeat words or phases such as “relax” and “calm down” while you take your deep breaths. Also, use visualization of a relaxing time or place (APA.org, 2018).

Work on cognitive restructuring to change your thoughts. Remind yourself that your anger is not fixing anything. Logic defeats anger, because anger can become irrational. Become aware of changing demands into desires. Anger helps avoid feeling disappointed, but the disappointment usually doesn’t go away.

To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “For every minute you remain angry, you give up 60 seconds of peace of mind.”


Anger Symptoms, Causes and Effects (2018). Retrieved from https://www.psychguides.com/guides/anger-symptoms-causes-and-effects/

Between Anger and Anxiety (2015). Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/news/2012/12/05/link-between-anger-and-anxiety/48618.html

Braingquotes Quote (2018).Retrieved from

Controlling Anger Before it Controls You. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx

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