Anger: Is Your Temper Getting The Best Of You?

By Joy Erlichman Miller, PhD, LCPC, MAC

Are some people just born angry or is it a behavior that is learned? Let’s explore some recent research related to anger and a behavior that you can’t afford to ignore.

Is anger something that is genetic or is it a behavioral disorder?
• Mental health professionals typically classify anger as a normal feeling, but when the actions are severe or it turns outward it is then classified as a disorder that is learned or behavioral.
• Anger is usually accompanied with feelings of depression, shame, guilt, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
• Many times anger is classified as Intermittent Explosive disorder when anger is against people or property out of proportion.
• Estimated that 1/20 have Intermittent Explosive disorder (mostly men) and is treated with talk therapy and some antidepressants.
• Many researchers believe that anger is correlated with impulsive control disorder.

What if your anger is out of check and things escalate? What things can YOU do to calm yourself down?
• Count. The old adage was correct. Breathe, count and allow yourself to calm down. When you are angry your blood pressure goes up. Take deep breaths and try to calm down.
• Reframe the situation into a way that is not so hurtful.
• Become aware of what makes you mad. Learn to identify your triggers and learn ways to calm yourself down when you realize you are being triggered.
• Talk to yourself in a new way. Change the message so you are not the victim.
• Try not to think of past affronts or past injustices and focus on how to calm yourself down.
• Never use alcohol. Drinking or drugging when you are mad will only make things worse.
• Will this matter tomorrow? Slow down and decide if this will matter to you tomorrow or next week.

Many times people lose their temper with their significant other. What are some tips to keep your anger in check?
• Call a “time out” if things start to get out of hand. Leave the situation for 30 minutes and come back to discuss.
• Leave the room and get some distance.
• Come back and try to acknowledge what you think the other person was saying.
• Try to compromise or negotiate and look for win-win situations.

Dr. Joy is an internationally known licensed psychotherapist, professional trainer, author, and the director of Joy Miller & Associates located in Peoria. She has appeared on Sally Jessy Raphael, Oprah Winfrey, Jenny Jones, Montel Williams and Geraldo Rivera. She has taught in the doctoral program at Walden University, as well as at Bradley University. Dr. Joy is part of the WEEK-TV team, and NBC affiliate, as their mental health consultant, with her early years hosting a radio show on WMBD1470. Currently she is the author of 7 published books and the Promoter of highly successful Women’s Lifestyle Show in Peoria for the past 25 years.