Monday, June 22, 2009

I Think I'm Going to Lose It

We all get angry from time, but a recent study in the archives of general psychiatry, found that between 11 and 16 million Americans suffer from intermittent explosive disorder (IED), a psychiatric disorder that involves severe anger outbursts. The results of this study were pretty surprising in terms of how common IED actually is.

IED is a pretty severe condition that involves multiple episodes of violent anger outbursts. But we've all had the experience of losing it and not managing our anger very well. Even if you don't suffer from IED, anger outbursts can have a negative impact on your friends, family, and co-workers.

Anger is a very powerful emotion that can lead to aggression and sometimes violent behavior.  Poorly managed anger can increase your risk of hypertension, lead to musculoskeletal problems, stomach problems and even depression.

So here are three steps to keep your anger in check.


The first step is to relax- which is probably the last thing you want to hear when you are very angry. But- it is critical that you slow down the anger response. The simplest thing you can do is to take slow deep breaths when you feel yourself getting angry. This will slow your heart rate reduce your blood pressure, and relax your muscles which in turn will slow the anger response. You can also repeat to yourself something like, "just relax", or "calm down". The combination of breathing and self-statements will make a big difference.


Next, once you have calmed down a little, rethink the problem that is making you angry. Rethinking simply means coming up with another explanation for the problem that doesn't cause so much anger. So for example, when my five year old is overtired or hungry she frequently has what we call "the meltdown". She cries and screams, and is pretty much inconsolable.  I often get frustrated and annoyed, so I try to remind myself of why she is doing this. By focusing my thinking I can stay calm enough to try and solve the problem versus just being mad


The final step is to redirect. Take all that emotional energy that comes with the anger and do something with it. If at all possible, try to solve the problem. If the problem can't be solved take out your anger in a productive way exercise is probably one of the best ways, but anything that let's you release your energy will work.

 Anger is a normal part of life. What we do with anger and how we manage it is the key. These three steps can help you manage your anger in a healthy and productive way

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