When Does Anxiety Turn into Anger?
We all get anxious and lose our temper from time to time. It’s part of being human in a world full of challenges and setbacks. But while anxiety and anger may seem like two distinct emotional states, they have more in common than you may think. Understanding this connection can help individuals manage their emotions more effectively and potentially stop anxiety before it transforms into anger and aggression.
The Connection Between Anxiety & Anger
Anxiety is characterized by an intense and persistent state of worry or dread about everyday situations. Anger, on the other hand, is characterized by an intense state of displeasure or antagonism towards a person or thing that has wronged us or blocked us from achieving a certain goal.
Some people refer to anger as a secondary emotion; this means that it arises from other emotions. One such emotion that triggers anger is anxiety. When it goes unaddressed and unexpressed, it can turn into frustration, which can then morph into anger.
Physiological Symptoms: Fight or Flight
Anxiety and anger are both connected to our body’s fight-or-flight response. When we encounter a stressful or threatening situation, our bodies release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare us to either confront the threat (fight) or flee from it (flight). In both anxiety and anger, these physiological responses are activated, leading to increased heart rate, muscle tension, and heightened alertness.
When Does Anxiety Turn into Anger?
Rapidly shifting from anxiety to anger is not unusual. This typically happens when you’ve been unable to calm yourself down or attempted to bottle up your anxious feelings in hopes they’d dissipate on their own. When you have not learned how to regulate the physiological and emotional symptoms of anxiety, your body decides to approach your worries with a different approach: lashing out.
For example, if you are anxious about a looming deadline at work, your anxiety may manifest as irritability toward coworkers or family members. If you are a socially anxious person worried about an upcoming event, you may react with anger toward a person encouraging you to attend or asking you why you’re not going to be there.
Irritability Can be a Symptom of Anxiety
Irritability is characterized by feelings of anger, frustration, impatience, annoyance, and agitation. Many people with anxiety also experience excessive irritability. In one study of 3,486 self-reported worriers, individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) reported more than twice as much irritability in their day-to-day lives.1 This may occur because anxiety can make a person feel depleted of energy, leading them to feel unable to shrug off even the mildest worry or annoyance.
How to Manage Anxiety Before it Turns into Anger
The first step in stopping anxiety before it turns into anger is to become aware of your anxiety symptoms. These may include the following:
- Persistent worry and dread
- Rapid heartbeat
- Upset stomach
- Lack of focus
The next step in learning how to ease anxiety is developing coping mechanisms to help you calm down in the moment. This may include mindfulness techniques like deep breathing, taking a mindful walk, journaling, using aromatherapy, or meditating.
Making certain lifestyle adjustments can also help you learn to manage anxiety more effectively over time. This includes following a healthy diet and avoiding too much sugar and caffeine, which can exacerbate anxious feelings. Getting enough sleep is also crucial to keeping anxiety and irritability at bay. Lastly, take a look at how much time you spend on screens. Excessive screen time is known to worsen anxiety and interfere with your sleep.
If you need more support, consider taking a non-prescription medication like Brillia. Free from harsh, synthetic chemicals and harmful side effects, Brillia reduces symptoms of anxiety, stress, restlessness, and irritability, while improving focus and clarity.
The magic in Brillia is rooted in antibody science. Our active ingredient consists of antibodies to the S100B protein, a neurotrophic factor that regulates nerve cell growth and plasticity and is secreted in response to stress.2 Brillia binds to this protein to stop symptoms of anxiety from manifesting without affecting any other systems in the body. This means the medication will not cause drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, or mask the personality in any way. And if you are already taking a medication or supplement for anxiety or another medical condition, you can add Brillia to your regimen without worry because there are no contraindications associated with the medication. In fact, some individuals choose to combine Brillia and prescription medication to address secondary symptoms or to avoid having to increase the dosage of their current medication.
Controlling Anger When Necessary
If your anxiety has morphed into anger, having some anger management techniques in your toolkit can be extremely valuable. In addition to the mindfulness techniques we mentioned above, it’s essential you learn how to utilize communication skills that will help you express your frustrations productively without lashing out. Embrace assertiveness over passive aggressiveness and practice expressing your needs calmly and respectfully while leaving room for others to express their own needs.
When to Seek Additional Help
With enough practice and coping mechanisms in place, many individuals can learn to manage anxiety and anger on their own, but there are situations where seeking professional help is crucial. It may be time to consult a mental health professional if your anxiety and anger are impacting your daily life and relationships, you’ve considered harming yourself or others, or you’ve consistently turned to substances to cope. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and it can lead to a healthier, happier life.
Find more resources on managing anxiety at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.
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