Let’s be real: everyone gets angry at one time or another. It’s been said that women get more made at people, while men get more angry at things. You may get angry at your spouse, your job, your kids, that electronic device that won’t work or maybe at a missed opportunity.
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, create a plan or work harder. However, the majority of us have unhealthy episodes of anger.
Emotions such as anger and hostility ramp up your “fight or flight” response. When that happens, stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, speed up your heart rate and breathing.
If you hold in anger for long periods of time, turn it inward, or explode in rage, it can wreak havoc on your body, inside and out. Here are just a few ways below.
1. Heart Damage
Anger 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.
And don’t think holding in your anger helps–it can actually be worse for you. “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.
Protect your heart by identifying and addressing your feelings before you lose control. Speak up directly to the person you are angry with and deal with the frustration in a problem-solving manner.
Ever been so frustrated you think you’re going to explode? There’s a reason for that. Anger ups your stroke risk. If you’re prone to almost bursting a blood vessel when you get angry, 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.
But you can learn to control those angry explosions. First identify what your triggers, and then figure out how to change your response. Instead of losing your temper, many people take time to either physically remove themselves from that environment (either going into another room) or counting backwards. Others try deep breathing. Use assertive communication skills.
3. Immune System Breakdown
Being sick and tired makes you sick and tired. Anger actually weakens your immune system. If you’re mad all the time, you just might find yourself…