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.
Why do I get angry?
We can feel angry for many different reasons. It might be because of a difficult situation we're experiencing. Or something that happened to us in the past. Sometimes, we might feel anger because of how we interpret and react to certain situations.
People can interpret situations differently. Something that makes you feel very angry may not make someone else feel angry at all. But just because we can interpret things differently, it doesn't mean that you're interpreting things 'wrong' if you get angry.
How and when you feel angry, and how you react to anger, can depend on lots of factors in your life, including your:
Whether your anger is about something that happened in the past or something happening now, thinking about how and why we interpret and react to situations can help. We can learn how to cope with our emotions better and find ways to manage our anger. See our page on managing your anger for more information.
Under 18? Read our tips on anger for young people
How we learn to cope with angry feelings is often influenced by our upbringing. Many people are given messages about anger as children. These messages may make it harder to manage anger as an adult. For example:
- You may have grown up thinking that it's always okay to act out your anger aggressively or violently. So you didn't learn how to understand and manage your angry feelings. This could mean you have angry outbursts whenever you don't like the way someone is behaving. Or whenever you're in a situation you don't like.
- You may have been brought up to believe that you shouldn't complain. You may have been punished for expressing anger as a child. This could mean that you tend to suppress your anger. If you don't feel you can release your anger in a healthy way, it can become a long-term problem. If you're not comfortable with new situations, your reaction to them might be out of place or ill-fitting. Or you might turn this anger inwards on yourself.
- You may have witnessed your parents' or other adults' anger when it was out of control. And learned to think of anger as something that is always destructive and terrifying. This could mean that you now feel afraid of your own anger. And you don't feel safe expressing your feelings when something makes you angry. Those feelings might then surface at another unconnected time. This may feel hard to explain.
Sometimes the anger we're feeling right now can be related to our past experiences. This might mean that we react more strongly to a situation we're experiencing in the present, because of our anger about what happened to us in the past.
If you've experienced situations in the past that made you feel angry, you might still be coping with those angry feelings now. Especially if you weren't able to safely express your anger at the time. Those situations could include abuse, trauma, racism or bullying (either as a child or more recently as an adult).
This might mean that you now find some situations very difficult, and more likely to make you angry.
Becoming aware of this can help us to find ways of responding to current circumstances in a safer or more helpful way.
We might feel angry about things that are going on in our lives right now. Or our current circumstances might make it harder to cope with or manage our emotions. There may be situations that make you feel angry, but you struggle to express or resolve your anger at the time. So you might find that you express your anger at other times.
Some experiences that may be difficult include:
- Stress. If you're dealing with a lot of other problems in your life right now, you might find yourself feeling angry more easily than usual. Or you might get angry at unrelated things. Our pages on stress have more information.
- Bereavement. Anger can be a part of grief. If you've lost someone important to you, it can be hugely difficult to cope with all the conflicting things you might be feeling. Our pages on bereavement have more information. Cruse Bereavement Support can also offer support and information if you've experienced a bereavement.
- Discrimination or injustice, such as experiences of racism, can make us feel angry. Particularly if you're being treated unfairly, if you feel powerless to do anything about it, or if people around you don't understand. We have information that may help if you experience discrimination based on your race or ethnicity, or your sexual or gender identity.
- Upsetting or worrying events. We might feel angry about things that are happening in the world right now. We may see things going on which we know aren't right but that we feel powerless to stop. Or we may feel angry at the decisions made by people in power, or by the attitudes of others about issues that matter to us. Our pages on coping with distressing events in the news have more information.
After a year and a half of lockdowns…Our house was so pressured, it was not a good environment.
Our physical and mental health can impact how we feel, and how we manage our emotions. This can include:
- Hormones. Changes in our hormones can have a big effect on our moods and emotions. This can include feeling anger which is stronger than normal, occurs in cycles, or is more difficult to control or understand. You may struggle with anger in the lead up to, during or after the menopause. Or you may notice links between your anger and your periods, or any contraception that affects your hormones.
- Physical pain. Ongoing or chronic pain can make us feel angry, especially if we don't get the support we need or feel we've been treated unfairly.
- Mental health problems. Some mental health problems may make us experience higher levels of anger. Or make it harder to manage difficult feelings. Our A-Z of mental health has more information on different mental health problems and experiences.
- General wellbeing. Things such as sleep, food and exercise can have a big impact on our moods, including our anger levels.
I tracked my symptoms over three months, and saw that there was a direct correlation between my monthly cycle and my mental health.