Why Am I So Angry?

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Anger is a feeling that can be difficult to experience and express. If you find yourself wondering Why am I so angry?, it might be a sign that there are triggers, feelings, or frustrations that you need to explore. Such feelings might also signify that you need different coping skills to help you manage, reduce, and express your anger more effectively. 

Because showing anger can often create so many negative feelings when expressed, it isn't uncommon for people to hide their feelings or even try to repress them.

However, anger is a common reaction that everyone experiences from time to time. It can be caused by unfairness, frustration, irritation, criticism, or other factors. While it might feel unpleasant, understanding your anger and why it happens can be an important source of information. 

This article explores why you might feel so angry, how it might affect your behaviors, and some ways you can cope.

Symptoms of Anger

Anger can manifest in a wide variety of ways. Some signs that always feeling angry might be a problem include:

  • Strong physical feelings of anger including increased heart rate and muscle tension
  • Irritability, grumpiness, impatience, and hostility
  • Angry feelings that negatively affect your relationships
  • Physical aggression or violence
  • Threatening others, name-calling, or yelling
  • Feeling unable to control anger
  • Reckless behaviors in response to anger
  • Avoid situations because they are likely to trigger anger
  • Excessive negative thinking 
  • Repressing angry feelings
  • Sudden shifts in mood that lead to overwhelming feelings of rage
  • Giving people the silent treatment or becoming withdrawn

Why Am I So Angry?

Anger is often a response to stressful events or threats that trigger the body's fight-or-flight response. An area of the brain known as the amygdala stimulates the hypothalamus, triggering the release of hormones that prepare the body to either flee to safety or stay and deal with the threat.

There are many different threats and stressors that might make you feel angry. Some of these causes include:

  • Facing physical threats to your bodily safety
  • Experiencing disrespect
  • Being treated unfairly
  • Feeling stressed or anxious
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Problems at work
  • Difficult life events
  • Memories of past problems or trauma
  • Feelings of powerlessness
  • Chronic stress
  • Substance use

Other factors may contribute to feelings of anger, especially if this anger seems out of proportion to the source of provocation or if it occurs with great frequency. Certain personality traits can make people more prone to anger. Some medical or mental health conditions might also be linked to increased feelings of anger.

Your interpretations of events also play a role in causing feelings of anger. These perceptions are influenced by a range of factors including genetics, upbringing, past experiences, stress levels, and personality. Certain cognitive biases can also play a role in how people view different events in their lives.

Everyone feels angry from time to time. If your anger is intense, disproportionate, or frequent, it might be a sign of a problem that needs to be addressed in order to prevent negative effects on your life and relationships.

Experiences and Upbringing

Childhood experiences and parenting can play an important role in how people experience, express, and cope with anger in adulthood. For example, if you grew up in a home where adult caregivers regularly modeled unhealthy expressions of anger, you may be more likely to express your anger in distressing or unhelpful ways in adulthood. 

You may have learned that expressing your anger through outbursts of verbal aggression or even violence is acceptable. In many cases, you may not have ever learned the coping skills and emotional self-regulation strategies to deal with feelings of frustration and anger.

Past experiences can also make it difficult to know how and when to express feelings of anger. If you grew up in circumstances where it was not acceptable or safe to express any feelings of discomfort, irritation, or anger, you might be more likely to try to suppress your true feelings as an adult.

Instead of dealing with the things that bother you, you might find yourself allowing them to fester until the frustration causes you to reach your breaking point.

Anger and Mental Health Conditions

While your past might affect your responses and coping mechanisms, many aspects of your current circumstances shape how you experience feelings of frustration and anger. Certain mental health conditions, for example, may influence how often you experience anger and how you react to these emotions.

Anger can be a symptom of different mental health conditions listed in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM-5), the tool that clinicians use to diagnose different mental disorders. Some of the mental health conditions that can contribute to feeling angry all the time include:

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

While anger itself is not a distinct condition, repeated episodes of aggressive or violent behavior may be a sign of intermittent explosive disorder (IED). This condition is characterized by outbursts of extreme, disproportionate anger. 

These episodes of anger happen with little or no warning, last less than 30 minutes, and are accompanied by behaviors such as throwing objects, fighting, arguing, or engaging in physical violence. 

After an outburst, people with IED may experience feelings of embarrassment, shame, and remorse. However, they feel that they cannot control their anger and report feeling angry most or all of the time.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that causes symptoms related to hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. The condition is most often diagnosed in childhood, but symptoms frequently persist into adulthood, although these symptoms may affect adults differently.

Symptoms of anger, including physical expressions of aggression and feelings of irritability, can sometimes occur in children and adults with the condition.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition characterized by extreme changes in mood. Mood episodes can include periods of depression and mania, which can also result in feelings of irritability, agitation, anger, and recklessness.

Depression

Depression can cause feelings of sadness and hopelessness, but symptoms of irritability and anger are also common. Other symptoms of depression include loss of interest in normal activities, sleep disturbances, lack of energy, and feelings of worthlessness.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. These obsessions and compulsions can be distressing and disruptive, and research suggests that anger can often be a common symptom of the condition.

Substance Use

Substance use can also contribute to feelings of irritability and anger. Alcohol and other substances affect the brain in various ways, including reducing inhibition and increasing the likelihood that people will act impulsively. 

According to a report published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 15% of robberies, 26% of assaults, and 37% of sexual assaults are committed by people who have been drinking.

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Impact of Uncontrolled Anger

If you always feel angry, it can have serious consequences on your life in a wide variety of ways. While you might suppress your feelings, they can eventually lead to outbursts of anger that might harm you or others. 

Research has found that uncontrolled anger has a detrimental effect on both physical and mental well-being.

Poorly managed anger leads to increased stress, triggering the release of hormones, including cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. It also generates a stress response, resulting in increased blood pressure, heart rate, and other physiological changes.

Prolonged and repeated exposure to these physical changes can lead to lasting effects on health and well-being. Some of the consequences of always feeling angry include an increased risk for:

  • Anxiety
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure 
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Stomach upset

In addition to the effects on your health, other people are also likely to be affected by your anger. This can lead to conflicts, poor interpersonal relationships, social difficulties, problems at work, and feelings of isolation and loneliness.

How to Cope With Being Angry

If it seems like you always feel angry, there are strategies that you can use that may help relieve your anger and help you cope. 

  • Find the cause: If you are not sure what is causing these angry feelings, consider keeping a journal where you write down when you were angry and what immediately preceded these feelings, including what you were doing and the events that occurred. Over time, you might start to spot patterns or specific triggers that are likely to lead to anger.
  • Exercise: Physical activity can be a great way to channel feelings of frustration and potentially relieve angry moods. Getting regular exercise can also be great for your overall mental health. It can help you cope with stress and relieve feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Rely on relaxation techniques: When you feel anger building, look for ways to defuse these emotions before they get worse. Relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation can help induce a relaxation response to combat stress and anger.
  • Try cognitive reframing: Sometimes anger is the result of how you perceive a situation. If you are focused on negative thoughts or looking at a situation in a biased way, you are more likely to feel angry about it. Cognitive reframing is a strategy that involves changing how you look at a situation, often by considering alternatives or actively challenging your interpretations. 

Building effective communication skills can also be useful when you are feeling angry. Instead of letting feelings fester and grow, consider talking to the other people who are involved in the situation. Give yourself time to think through the situation and then discuss the situation in a way that will help you resolve the problem or arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.

Utilizing conflict management skills and presenting your feelings using "I statements" can prevent arguments from growing worse.

Should You Vent Your Anger?

While venting anger, which refers to expressing anger in various ways, has often been touted as an effective anger management tool, blowing off steam might actually make your anger worse.

Venting aggression using actions like yelling, stomping your feet, or punching a pillow reinforces the angry outburst. It essentially trains your brain and body to respond to feelings of anger with violence.

So instead of "venting" or "letting it out," a more effective way to deal with being angry all the time is to walk away until your feelings become less intense. Utilizing relaxation techniques can also be a more productive way to cope. 

A Word From Verywell

If your feelings of anger are causing distress or disrupting your life, it is important to talk to a healthcare or mental health professional. They can help determine what might be causing your anger and evaluate whether your anger might be related to a mental health condition such as depression, ADHD, or bipolar disorder. They can also recommend treatments that can help, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), anger management classes, and support groups.

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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kristen Fuller, MD
Kristen Fuller is a physician, a successful clinical mental health writer, and author. She specializes in addiction, substance abuse, and eating disorders.