When communicating with an individual with bipolar disorder
about one of the webpages on this site on that subject, he stated that "anger management" was a topic which he felt needed to be included in the discussion on bipolar disorder.
While anger is not listed by the DSM-V as a symptom of bipolar disorder, irritability is, and anger is interpreted in terms of irritability, and is generally considered to be a symptom of bipolar disorder by mental health professionals
Anger management is an essential part of good mental health and good health. People who control their anger generally have better health and live longer. You can overcome problems with anger.
Of course, anger management is a topic that, while especially pertinent to a discussion on mental health, is a subject of importance apart from any mental health disorder.
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Adaptive Behaviors and Responses Towards Anger Management
Anger - Definition
Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger defines anger as "an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage." Like many other emotions, anger is accompanied by physiological and biological changes in the body; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. The American Psychological Association (APA) accurately states that anger can be caused by both external and internal events.
Identifying and Managing Anger
In terms of identifying and managing anger, Greg Simon, M.D., of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, and a psychiatrist and researcher at Group Health Cooperative at the Center for Health Studies in Seattle, gives the following list of adaptive behaviors in dealing with this problem:
"Learning to recognize the external situations (people, places, events) that tend to make you irritable or more angry."
"Planning ahead for managing those high-risk situations by either avoiding them or preparing for them."
"Learning to recognize the internal warning signs (thoughts, emotions, physical feelings) that indicate you are more irritable or angry."
"Identifying specific things you say to yourself, physical relaxation (like deep breathing or prayer), or actions you can take to interrupt the anger (like going outside and walking, giving yourself a "time-out".)"
Anger is likely to occur as a consequence of a manic state, which can occur with or apart from bipolar disorder
. Note that it has been said as a general truism that "depression is anger turned inward." Given this, is makes sense that mania, as a state opposite to depression
, may lead to anger turned outward.
In terms of the advice listed above by Simon, these points represent a type of self-monitoring. By seeking to avoid your environmental "triggers" for anger, you may be able to manage your anger better or cut down on its frequency.
Ways to Circumvent Anger
There are a number of things that an individual can do to circumvent anger when it arises. The following represent activities that you might engage in when you are angry:
Talk to another person, someone outside of the conflictual situation, about your feelings. Without getting angry and simply expressing yourself to another, you may be able to vent your anger in a socially appropriate way.
Practice assertiveness as opposed to anger. Even though assertiveness is somewhat more passive than anger, it may allow you to stand up for your rights that you may feel have been violated.
At times yield. Don't feel that you have to demand your rights in every situation. If a small injustice has been or is being committed, communicating calmly, in general, will accomplish more. In the even that this doesn't work, let it go. Yielding is different than being passive, it is associated with a positive quality, reasonableness.
As stated above, try to walk or engage in some kind of physical activity that may dissipate your anger.
Take a time-out from the situation, person or event that is angering you. Getting away from the situation of conflict may help you calm down.
If it is possible, try to help your significant others to become educated about one's mental disorder, if that is an issue in problems with anger. You may find that they are motivated to do this.
As your significant others can elicit strong emotional reactions in you, you may eliminate many future conflicts by cooperatively communicating. If necessary communicate along with a intermediary third party such as a family counselor, or other impartial mediator.
Family Counseling Can Result in a Higher Success Rate for Struggling Individuals Within the Family
For this reason, family counseling has proven to be an effective adjunctive therapy which contributes to a greater success rate in treating individual members of the family with a mental health disorder, or who have specific issues such as anger, that need to be addressed.
The individual who is trying to overcome problems with anger is not an isolated independent entity, but a member of the family unit, one part of the whole. By "treating" the entire family, sources of irritation and frustration are lessened, and family style and lifestyles can be adjusted, in favor of better mental health for individual members whose emotional constitution might be more fragile or sensitive.
What can the entire family do to minimize sources of irritation that are contributing to anger. Communication goes a long way. Therapy can be effective, because an impartial therapist or counselor, which might be someone such as a minister will hear both sides of the story without judging or laying blame, and at the same time, might have insight that can contribute to a more peaceful home atmosphere, less prone to outbursts of anger.
As an example in terms of a family making adjustments to support individual members, an entire family might watch a film together where the angry hero's outbursts save the day. For most of the family, they might see it as just a film, something to do for a couple of hours. For one individual in the family, films portraying angry emotions might deeply affect his inner person, and contribute to internalizing emotions of anger. Can the whole family, then, make adjustments, in various ways, for the benefit of the individual?
Identify External Sources Which May be Contributing to Anger
Endeavor to identify external sources of anger, what might be contributing to emotions of anger, and make appropriate changes. Many films, as well as much music are filled with anger. By regularly watching films
that evoke emotions of anger, we can internalize such anger and it can stimulate our own anger. The same can be said for music.
Regularly listening to music laced with anger can contribute to internalizing emotions of anger in the listener
laced with anger, which is the case with much alternative, heavy metal, and a significant percentage of rock and hard rock
, including pop-rock marketed to children, is an integral part of some of these genres of music. Indulging in angry music, or music laced with anger, on a regular basis, can fuel emotions of anger within us, making it more difficult to control our own anger.
Another aspect of anger management is substance abuse
. Substance abuse of all types is in itself an evidence of a need to develop self-control; but it also can contribute towards problems with anger. "Smoking weed
," as common as it is among teens, can result in problems with anger. Sometimes teens with problems with anger management may be abusing substances, including marijuana
, which can contribute to loss of self-control. Cutting off this potential source of internal irritation at its source can lessen issues with anger.
Recognize Anger as a Negative and Undesirable Emotion, as Opposed to Assertiveness, which can be Positive
Recognize anger as a negative emotion, rather than an effective expression of assertiveness, and realizing that it almost always leads to destruction of relationships and personal self-esteem of yourself and the one whom your anger is directed towards. This can provide incentive for learning to control anger rather than vent it.
The American Psychological Association (APA) states that the idea that venting your anger is a positive way of dealing with anger "is a dangerous myth". It further states, some people use this theory as a license to hurt others. Research has found that "letting it rip" with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you're angry with) resolve the situation."
Rather than giving vent to anger, find constructive ways of dealing with it; take our anger on the pavement, walking, jogging, in the weight room exercising, rather than on other people. Don't fuel your anger, don't nourish it, wallow in it, water it, or nurse it; rather, diffuse it and replace it with positive emotions.
Learn to Forgive
Learning to forgive others works in harmony with learning to forgive yourself. This can go a long way towards controlling anger. Mayo Clinic, in an article entitled, Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Temper puts it this way, "Don't hold a grudge," and elaborates, "Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation."
If someone close to you does something to hurt you, large or small, learn to let it go, cover it over. Realize that you have probably done a lot to hurt others as well, and learning to forgive will result in less build up of anger, and can do much to defuse internal anger. Learning to say "I'm sorry" can also defuse tense situations when you may be the one who is at fault.
Stigma, Stereotyping, Discrimination, Injustice and Prejudice Can Contribute to Anger ---Take Practical Steps to Build Self-Esteem and to Communicate
In many instances, a person with a mental health disorder will feel the effects of his diagnosis in terms of prejudice, stigma and stereotyping
, whether discrimination is in terms of a mental disorder is real or imagined. Feeling like a second class citizen can be a cause of anger. People do treat the mentally health disorders in ways that exemplify a lack of insight. Sometimes, people treat those with a mental health disorder as unintelligent or with a patronizing attitude. Anger can be an understandable response to this. This is another reason why developing self-esteem is an important part of self help for those with mental health disorders.
A mental health disorder can afflict one in early adulthood. Just as one is starting to become independent and self-sufficient, they are labeled with a diagnosis, and, based on the way statistics color an individual's situation, and the way some mental health professionals, especially psychiatrists, often paint a gloomy rather than hopeful picture of recovery, the mentally ill individual is left to feel that they have a chronic condition that will eventuate in their having to look forward to a future of nothingness. This situation can be angering.
If this is the case, attempt to overcome anger concerning the supposed chronicity of a mental disorder and other's misunderstanding of it; try to take practical and positive steps to deconstruct your sense of grief and loss. In others words, try to repair what may have been loss and build bridges for the present and towards the future. This may help anger to subside.
References for Anger Management
Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper. June 25, 2011. Mayo Clinic
Asen, E. M.D. (2002) Outcome research in family therapy. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/8/3/230.full
Simon, G. June, 2012. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
What is Anger? Controlling Anger Before it Controls You. American Psychological Association.
Retrieved September 1, 2012. http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx#