Explains anger, some possible causes and how it can make you feel and act. There's practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support. This includes advice for friends and family.
What is anger?
We all feel angry at times – it's part of being human. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion.
There are many different reasons why we might feel angry. We may feel anger at having been treated badly or unfairly by others. Our anger may be a reaction to difficult experiences in our daily life, our past, or in the world around us. Or it may be a way to cope with other emotions. For example, we may feel anger alongside feeling attacked, powerless, embarrassed or scared. Our page on causes of anger has more information.
We may not know why we feel angry and that's okay too. We don't always need to justify or explain why we feel a certain way.
Sometimes anger can be a helpful emotion. But sometimes it can be difficult to manage and make our lives harder.
Learning how to recognise, express and manage anger can make a big difference to our mental health. Our page on managing your anger has some tips on how to deal with anger.
Under 18? Read our tips on anger for young people
How can anger be helpful?
Feeling angry can sometimes be useful. For example, feeling angry about something can:
- Help us identify problems
- Help protect us from things that are hurting us
- Help us feel more energised or focused on a task
- Motivate us to push for changes in the world or to help others who are being treated badly
- Help us to challenge and stand against injustice or discrimination
- Help us stay safe and defend ourselves in dangerous situations by giving us a burst of energy as part of our body's natural response to threats
Anger is something I had always been discouraged from feeling. But a degree of protective anger can be really healthy and healing.
How can anger be unhelpful?
Anger can be a difficult emotion to cope with. And we all have times where we may struggle with anger. Sometimes, anger can:
- Distract us from what we need to do
- Make us say or do things we regret
- Make it harder for us to express ourselves clearly or calmly
- Lead to arguments or conflict with others
- Make us feel guilty and ashamed
- Stop us from recognising or dealing with other emotions
- Make it harder for us to take care of ourselves
- Impact our self-esteem
- Have an effect on our bodies, for example, impacting our sleep
- Lead to people making judgements about us
When is anger a problem?
We can all struggle to manage our anger at times. But signs that it may be becoming a problem for you include:
- You feel like you can't control your anger, or that it controls your life
- You express your anger through unhelpful or destructive behaviour, such as violence or self-harm
- You're worried your behaviour may become abusive
- Your anger is having a negative effect on your relationships, work, studies or hobbies
- Your anger is often hurting, frightening or upsetting the people around you
- You feel unable to get on with your daily life because of your anger
- You find yourself thinking about your anger all the time
- You're often doing or saying things that you regret afterwards
- Your anger is having a negative impact on your overall mental and physical health
- Anger is becoming your go-to emotion, blocking out your ability to feel other emotions
- Your anger regularly makes you feel worse about yourself or your life
- You can't remember things you do or say when you're angry
- You're using alcohol or drugs to cope with your anger
I internalise anger and punish myself by self-harm.
We can't make our anger go away. But if you feel that your anger is becoming a problem for you, there are ways that you can try to manage it. It's important to seek treatment and support, especially if you're worried your anger may put you or others at risk.
My brain goes blank and I absent-mindedly release my anger through physical violence towards myself or objects around me. I don't realise how destructive I've been until immediately afterwards.