When communicating with an individual diagnosed with bipolar disorder
about one of the site's webpages on that subject, he stated that "anger management" was a topic that he felt needed to be included in a discussion on the topic of bipolar disorder.
Though the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-V) does not list anger as a symptom of bipolar disorder, irritability is listed, and anger is often interpreted in terms of irritability and so is generally considered to be a symptom of bipolar disorder by mental health professionals
Anger management is an essential part of good mental and physical health. People who control their anger generally have better health and live longer. You can overcome problems associated 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.
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
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
encourages the following list of adaptive behaviors in dealing with anger:
"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", etc.)"
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, it makes sense that mania, as a state opposite to depression, may lead to anger turned outward.
Simon encourages, then, self-monitoring. By learning to recognize and avoid environmental "triggers" for anger, you may be able to manage this negative emotion better or cut down on the frequency of problem anger.
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 conflict/tension 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 from being passive, as 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 other educate himself/herself on the mental disorder in question—if that is an issue. You may find that they will be motivated to do this with some encouragement from you.
As your significant other can elicit strong emotional reactions in you, you may eliminate many future conflicts by cooperatively communicating. If necessary, communicate along with an 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
Family therapy has been found to be an effective primary or adjunctive therapy in the mental health arena, facilitating faster recovery times for major mental health disorders and in dealing with many forms of family crises.
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 may be someone such as a minister—will hear both sides of the story without judging or laying blame, and at the same time, may 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, let’s say an entire family might watch a film together wherein the angry hero's outbursts save the day. For most members, 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, those that may be contributing to emotions of anger, and make appropriate changes. Many films
, and much music, are filled with anger. Regularly watching films that evoke emotions
of anger can cause internalizations of said emotion, which can stimulate one's own anger.
Regularly listening to music laced with anger can contribute to internalizing emotions of anger in the listener
—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 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 anger problems. Sometimes teens with anger management issues 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 realize that it almost always leads to the destruction of relationships and a damage of the personal self-esteem of yourself and the one to whom your anger is directed. This can provide incentive for learning to control anger rather than to vent.
The American Psychological Association (APA) states that the idea of venting your anger as a positive way of dealing with it "is a dangerous myth." It further states that some people use this theory as a license to hurt others. Research has found that "'letting it rip' 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 anger on the pavement by walking or jogging or 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." It 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 or 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 rage. 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. A person with a mental health disorder may be treated with a lack of insight or feel as if they are being patronized. Anger might be an understandable response to this. It is of importance, then, for those with mental health difficulties to build healthy self-esteem as an important part of self-help.
A mental health disorder can afflict one in early adulthood. Just as one is starting to become independent and self-sufficient, he or she is 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 he/she has a chronic condition that will result in him/her 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 others' misunderstanding of it; try to take practical and positive steps to deconstruct your sense of grief and loss. In other words, try to repair what may have been lost, 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#