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Killer Temper: Anger Leads to Bad Health

Anger is an honest human emotion but can have real health effects. Learn the effects of anger and ways to combat it in this week's article.

We all get a little mad sometimes. Someone cuts us off in traffic, our workload gets heavy or the day just isn't going our way. It's only natural to get angry. But if you're prone to seeing red, you may be increasing your risk of coronary disease.

The Risks of Anger

We see cartoons demonstrate anger with a throbbing vein and laugh but this could be the reality for some people. One study from 2001 talks about the correlation between coronary heart disease (CHD) and expressing your anger. CHD is damage or disease in a major heart vessel that can lead to heart attack,  chest pain and even death. After studying over 12,000 middle-aged individuals, those that handled a situation with better management of their anger had a lower risk of CHD than those that reacted aggressively or in frustration.

It's not just CHD, but what leads up to it that those with a short temper have to worry about. This study from Korea found that rising blood pressure levels were consistent with anger levels. Other studies have found anger to lead to poor lifestyle choices that could negatively impact your health.

Studies like this one from Johns Hopkins University have studied the link between anger and type 2 diabetes. There isn't a clear connection but the argument is anger stimulates risky behavior and poor eating habits (resulting in obesity). These are what lead to diabetes. It's a chain of thought that needs more research but definitely one worth looking into.

For those already with eating disorders, anger can be a trigger for binging. This study from The Neuropsychiatric Research Institute explains that anger can increase impulsivity which predicts binge-eating episodes. It's an important note to have for monitoring eating habits and keeping track of triggers.

Other sources suggested individuals that were already in poor health were more likely to be angry or express outward aggression. This study cites the role of anger in other studies when coping with chronic illnesses. All this has made anger not just a cause but a symptom of bad health and coping mechanism as well. Pretty scary if you take the time to reflect on it. That road rage could be eating away your heart. 

Don't Suppress. Express?

Bottling up your anger won't help keep any of the above at bay. This study from the University of Southern Maine predicted prolonged blood pressure rise in those that suppress their anger as opposed to those that expressed it. And people in the service industry reported higher levels of anxiety, depression and somatic symptoms (fatigue, general physical pain, etc) when suppressing anger than people that expressed it, according to an article in the Journal of Organized Behavior.

You may be thinking, "Great! I'll just express my emotions then!" But according to the American Psychological Association, expressing anger outwardly is still a bad idea. Not only will it lead to a much louder world full of shouting matches, it can alienate the people close to you and cut off your important support system during hard times. It also escalates situations and could lead to more dangerous circumstances.

So there's no solution. Being human with emotions is dooming us. Okay, not really. Of course there's something we can do. It's not suppression but expressing anger properly.

Anger can raise your blood pressure.

Dealing with Rage

Anger is a human emotion and sometimes can be very overwhelming. Even a slight irritation can cause a lot of friction in your life. Learning and practicing behaviors to control your anger is a step in the healthy direction. Try these tips adapted from the Mayo Clinic.

  • Stop the flow of anger. Sometimes when we get mad, things pile on top of it until you're on a runaway rage train. You can stop it by taking deep breathes. Not only will breathing exercises restrain you from saying something you'll regret (literally keeping you from breathing the words, ha) but it's a great stress reliever. Concentrating on breathing distracts you from the subject of you anger. A few breathes may turn explosive rage into a controllable simmer.

  • Work it off. Some people may secretly enjoy the adrenaline boost anger gives them but hate the damage. We stated above that anger raises blood pressure so it's true that there are very real affects that happen to the body when we get mad. Physical exercise is a better way to cope with that excess energy. A brisk walk, run or sprint can help calm that boiling tension. It can also remove you from the situation you're in and keep you from becoming re-angered.

  • Take some time. You ever wonder why we give children timeouts? It's so they can calm down and work out why they're angry without hurting themselves or others. You can do this too when confronted with a situation. If you're in desperate needs for an escape, disguise it as something more socially acceptable. Spend a few minutes to yourself in the bathroom, take yourself to lunch or simply excuse yourself to collect your thoughts. Giving yourself space will give you room to process the situation correctly.

  • Don't ignore the reasons. Something made you mad and ignoring the reason will only cause another episode. Instead, when you're calm, try planning a solution. Talk about miscommunications, avoid people that exacerbate the problem and make appropriate changes to improve your situation and mental health.

  • Express it appropriately. You don't have to hide your anger, especially if there are very good reasons for it. But that doesn't mean you have to use it as a weapon to hurt people. If you can't communicate calmly, talk to a third party you trust or write down your feelings. It's a great way to discover the source of your anger and how to address it without harming anyone else.

  • Apologize. Anger can drive us mad sometimes and cause us to act recklessly. Own up to mistakes made and problem solve ways to prevent them from being repeated. Apologizing is way to understand how anger can truly impact your life and the situations it makes so you have better motivation to change the behavior.

  • If you're stressing and need some tips on keeping your cool before you explode, try some of these other blogs for tips:

    Do you have other ways to deal with anger or are you lucky enough to have a calm demeanor? Tell us your thoughts on today's blog on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Tune in soon for more insights that could help you live a healthier lifestyle!
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    eVitamins recommends that you do not rely on the information presented in this article as diagnosis for treatment to any health claim. Content and information on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. The information and statements in this article have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. eVitamins assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements.
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