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I often wonder what the correlation is between anger and anxiety. Can anger sometimes be a manifestation of anxiety? I know when I experience anxiety, I’m a lot more irritable, easier to frustrate, and I tend to look and act angry. But, our generalized definition of anxiety is fear – something is scaring you and, in return, you’re anxious. So, how can they be related? I know I’m not alone with my anxiety-induced anger. Many people respond to their anxiety by getting angry – but, many sufferers have the more common responses, such as isolation, avoidance, and restlessness. These responses are caused by the “fight or flight” experience we go through when we’re anxious. Isolation, avoidance, and restlessness are all causes of “flight” – we’re anxious and we don’t want to deal with the trigger, so we flee, but some people get angry, a cause of the “fight” feeling. Their anxiety causes an angry reaction, or this overwhelming desire to fight.

Anxiety, as mentioned previous, can cause irritation. That irritation in and of itself can be a cause of anger. So, while you’re sitting in your anxiety, driving down the freeway, you may notice that you’re becoming irritable with other drivers and might even lash out verbally at them for not knowing how to drive. This reaction, while angry, goes back to you being anxious. Why does this happen? People experiencing anxiety tend to assume the worst, which causes increased anxiety, and increased irritability, which can manifest as anger.

If we take it back a notch, we’ll remember that anxiety comes from untruths we tell ourselves. Anxiety comes from our irrational mind and convinces us that we can’t do it, we’re not good enough, and that something bad is going to happen. As you can see, we create anxious thoughts all for ourselves when we give in to our irrational mind. So, the trick to with dealing with your anxiety driven anger is to also deal with the anxiety. It doesn’t hurt, though, to learn some anger management techniques along the way.

How to Deal with Anger

  • Remove yourself from the angering situation.
  • Take slow, deep breaths.
  • Think of the consequences to your angry behavior.
  • Journal your angry feelings.

As you can see, these are similar coping skills to dealing with anxiety. After you master dealing with your anger, you’ll have to confront your irrational mind and take control of your anxiety. The following are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) exercises that can help tremendously.

How to Take Control of Anxiety

  • Take slow deep breaths. In through the nose for 5 second, hold for 3 second, out through the nose for 5 seconds. Do this 3 times.
  • Stop your anxious thoughts. When the anxious thoughts come to mind, physically and verbally tell yourself to STOP and distract your mind by focusing on an inanimate object and reframing the anxious thought.
  • Externalize your anxious thoughts by journaling. Writing your thoughts down helps to get them out of your head so you don’t obsessively think about them in an attempt to remember them.

It’s perfectly normal to feel angry if you’re feeling anxious. For some people, anxiety and anger go hand-in-hand. This article provides you with some tools so you can effectively deal with both your anger and anxiety. Face to face individual therapy can also be a great tool to utilize so that you’re held accountable for practicing your exercises. The control is in your hands – do all you can with it!

Copyright © 2017 Michelle Dabach, LMFT. All Rights Reserved