Anger is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Annoyance, vexation, exasperation, crossness, irritation, irritability, indignation, displeasure, resentment; are all forms of anger.
However, as a human being, it’s okay to express anger as a result of the way we feel at a particular period of time, but when this is blown over the top, it becomes really dangerous to our health.
Sometimes anger can be good for you, if it’s addressed quickly and expressed in a healthy way. In fact, anger may help some people think more rationally. However, unhealthy episodes of anger when you hold it in for long periods of time, turn it inward, or explode in rage can wreak havoc on your body. If you’re prone to losing your temper, here are seven important reasons to stay calm.
- An angry outburst puts your heart at great risk: Most physically damaging is anger’s effect on your cardiac health. “In the two hours after an angry outburst, the chance of having a heart attack doubles,” says Chris Aiken, MD, an instructor in clinical psychiatry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and director of the Mood Treatment Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“Repressed anger where you express it indirectly or go to great lengths to control it, is associated with heart disease,” says Dr. Aiken. In fact, one study found that people with anger proneness as a personality trait were at twice the risk of coronary disease than their less angry peers.
To protect your ticker, identify and address your feelings before you lose control. “Constructive anger the kind where you speak up directly to the person you are angry with and deal with the frustration in a problem-solving manner is not associated with heart disease,” and is actually a very normal, healthy emotion, says Aiken.
- Anger ups your stroke risk: If you’re prone to lashing out, beware. One study found there was a three times higher risk of having a stroke from a blood clot to the brain or bleeding within the brain during the two hours after an angry outburst. For people with an aneurysm in one of the brain’s arteries, there was a six times higher risk of rupturing this aneurysm following an angry outburst.
Some good news: You can learn to control those angry explosions. “To move into positive coping, you need to first identify what your triggers, and then figure out how to change your response,” Instead of losing your temper, “Do some deep breathing. Use assertive communication skills. You might even need to change your environment by getting up and walking away,”
- It weakens your immune system: If you’re mad all the time, you just might find yourself feeling sick more often. In one study, Harvard University scientists found that in healthy people, simply recalling an angry experience from their past caused a six-hour dip in levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, the cells’ first line of defense against infection.
If you’re someone who’s habitually angry, protect your immune system by turning to a few effective coping strategies. “Assertive communication, effective problem solving, using humor, or restructuring your thoughts to get away from that black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking those are all good ways to cope,” “But you’ve got to start by calming down.”
- Anger problems can make your anxiety worse: If you’re a worrier, it’s important to note that anxiety and anger can go hand-in-hand. In a 2012 study published in the journal Cognitive Behavior Therapy, researchers found that anger can exacerbate symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition characterized by an excessive and uncontrollable worry that interferes with a person’s daily life. Not only were higher levels of anger found in people with GAD, but hostility along with internalized, unexpressed anger in particular contributed greatly to the severity of GAD symptoms.