Call Us Now
Depression, thinking and anxiety in counseling with a healthcare professional

Could Your Anger Actually Be Anxiety

Table of Contents

When we’re in a bad mood, we tend to dismiss irritability or angry outbursts as simple stress, or even blame it on those around us. However, if you’ve been feeling this way for a prolonged period, it is important to consider that there could be something more serious behind your irritation.

It’s been going on for months – maybe even years: you are irritable, stressed out, and snapping at people so quickly you barely have time to register what you just said. Why can’t you seem to control your temper? Where is all your anger coming from?

An oft-missed symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder is anger. While some people manifest their anxiety in the form of worry or emotional upset, for others this comes out in persistent irritability. Not only is this negative state difficult for the person experiencing it, this symptom can also damage relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Understanding how your constant aggravation may relate back to an anxiety disorder is an important step towards uncovering and resolving the roots of your anger.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are a type of mental health condition that causes lasting, intense feelings of stress or worry often disproportionate to the subjects of concern. These consistent feelings of worry interfere with people’s ability to fully engage with their life, and can impact physical health as well.

Common types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder – excessive worry about everyday situations and events
  • Social anxiety disorder – fear of judgment around your interactions in social situations, including group activities or one-on-one conversations
  • Panic attacks – intense fear or anxiety that culminates in debilitating, short-term physical symptoms
  • Phobias – intense fear of a place or thing, such as enclosed spaces or spiders
  • Separation anxiety disorder – acute fear of being alone, or of losing a loved one

Some people develop anxiety disorders in childhood that then persist into adulthood, whereas others will notice them later in life. As with most mental health issues, anxiety disorders do not have a clearly defined cause, but can be linked to trauma, biological and environmental factors, certain medical conditions, substance abuse, other mental health conditions, and a family history of anxiety. Like any other medical condition, anxiety disorders benefit from professional treatment in order to manage and alleviate symptoms, and to better overall quality of life.

What are Common Symptoms of Anxiety?

  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Sleep disturbances, including troubles falling and staying asleep
  • Heart palpitations, sweating, rapid breathing
  • Trembling
  • Panic attacks
  • Overthinking
  • Avoidance of things that cause anxiety
  • Irritability

If you have been experiencing these symptoms consistently for a prolonged period of time, this is an indication that you should see a medical professional for an evaluation.

What Causes Anxiety to Manifest as Anger?

There are several aspects of anxiety disorders that can feed into irritability. For some, the root cause of their anxiety may play a role in how it manifests. For example, if feeling threatened as a result of abuse and trauma fueled the development of anxiety, that can provoke a persistently angry reaction as a way of defense. 

Anxiety can also seriously disturb sleep patterns, contributing to regular periods of insomnia. This lack of sleep can also fuel irritability and moodiness. Many people with anxiety feel unable to control their worries or the situations or people that trigger them, and this can also generate feelings of anger or frustration.

Signs of Anger-Related Anxiety

  • Persistent irritability and aggravation
  • Impatience
  • Angry outbursts or snapping at people
  • Passive-aggressiveness
  • Impulsive negative behaviour (like hanging up on someone)
  • Presence of other symptoms related to anxiety

How to Control Anger-Related Anxiety

Anger-related anxiety can cause significant problems at work and home. If you are unable to control your irritation, your outbursts can limit the quality of your interactions with other people and undermine what you are trying to accomplish. Learning how to manage anger-related anxiety is critical to improving your relationships and helping yourself relieve stress and let go of some of the negative feelings that are dragging you down.

Be Aware of the Physical Signs

Anxiety and anger share some similar physiological responses like a quickened pulse, shortness of breath, and muscle tension. If you start to notice these, this is your cue to consciously try to relax your body and pull your mind out of this agitated state. 

One way to do this is through breathing exercises. You can start by breathing in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth, making sure to your draw your breaths deeply all the way in to your diaphragm. Doing this helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which aids in relaxing muscles, slowing down the heartbeat, and reducing blood pressure, calming the anger-related response and allowing rational thought back into your mind.

Practice a Pause

We’ve all heard the old adage of “count to ten” when you’re angry, but it is for a good reason. This allows your brain to essentially re-centre itself, as opposed to it reacting from the “fight-or-flight” mode that anger typically stems from. When you are reacting solely from anger, you say things that are destructive rather than constructive, and may regret them later. This is also when blaming comes into play, even when your response isn’t really in reaction to the person being blamed.

Whether you’re counting to ten, making a trip to the bathroom, taking a few long, slow breaths, or even simply stating, “I need a minute to respond to that,” giving your brain that short time to shift out of a crisis state and into a thinking state will be beneficial in constructive and less stressful interactions with others.

Give Yourself a Healthy Outlet

Stress doesn’t always just dissipate on its own, and it’s important to find a way to alleviate it when we’re feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Identifying wellness practices that feel right for you – whether it’s some form of exercise, yoga, meditation, or even just spending time outside – is essential to coping with the triggers and stressors of daily life. 

Consider Professional Support

If you are struggling with anger and irritability and can’t seem to get these feelings under control, talking to a mental health professional may provide the support you need to move forward. An evaluation and discussion with a specialist can reveal if you have an underlying disorder that may be resulting in your anger, and suggest methods of treatment.

Treatment for anxiety disorders often includes cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy that has proven effective in treating anxiety. CBT focuses on identifying negative patterns of thought and exploring their root causes in an effort to better understand how these impact outlook and behaviour, and to then develop new, positive ways of thinking.

A mental health professional can also help you cultivate a strong physical and mental foundation upon which healing can occur. This can include developing a regular exercise routine to naturally increase mood-boosting endorphins and relieve stress, eating healthy, nutritious foods to nourish the mind and body, and practicing good sleep hygiene.

Medication may be another option for treatment. There are many medications available to treat anger-related anxiety; however, finding the right medication can take time. Medical professionals tend to agree that medication is most effective when it is combined with other healthy lifestyle changes such as seeking therapy and adhering to good diet and exercise routines. 

Finding Relief from Anger-Related Anxiety at The Dawn Thailand

client meditating at the dawn

The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is a unique inpatient treatment facility specifically designed to foster growth and healing for those looking to overcome mental health and addiction issues. Located on a lush riverbank amidst tropical gardens in stunning Northern Thailand, our internationally accredited centre offers an oasis of calm far from the stressors of daily life at home. 

Our experienced, internationally-trained staff welcomes the opportunity to talk to potential new clients about how they can develop a personalised treatment plan specific to your needs. Call The Dawn today to learn more about what we offer.

Scroll to Top