Everyone feels angry from time to time, but some people experience an intense or inappropriate rage that goes uncontrolled. This unhealthy type of anger is quite common. In fact, if you looked at 100 random adults in the United States, about eight of them will have uncontrolled, intense, or inappropriate anger. What happens if one of those eight is your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse?
These relationships can be complex and difficult to navigate. It’s hard to balance your desire to help them and your need for safety. The first step to take is to get a better understanding of anger issues, their causes, and possible solutions.
Unhealthy vs Healthy Anger
Generally speaking, there are four types of anger that people express:
Only assertive anger is healthy. People with this kind of anger:
- Are honest about their feelings
- Avoid threats, humiliation, or intimidation
- Do not blame others for their feelings
- Address others with respect, even when they disagree
- Try to resolve conflict
Aggressive, passive-aggressive, and suppressive types of anger are all unhealthy in different ways. If your partner intimidates, mocks, manipulates, threatens, or physically harms you when angry, this is unhealthy anger. If you’re worried about your physical or emotional safety when your partner is angry, it’s likely that they have aggressive anger. However, sometimes passive-aggressive anger can be demeaning as well.
What Causes Anger Issues?
A person’s immediate surroundings and life stressors can cause anyone to feel angry. However, the causes of unhealthy rage run deeper. Possible causes of anger issues include:
- Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)
- Unbalanced brain chemistry
- Untreated depression, anxiety, or other disorder
- Substance abuse
- Underlying trauma
- Lack of coping skills
Some people live with a combination of these risk factors that cause anger problems.
Are Anger Issues Genetic?
Researchers have not identified an anger gene. However, genetics may play a role in causing anger problems. Many mental health disorders that cause disordered anger are found in families.
Can Someone with Anger Issues Change?
People can and do change their behavioral patterns all the time–that’s often the goal of therapy. However, people with anger issues can only change if they make a commitment and put in the work. They have to want to change for themselves, not because someone else wants them to do it.
We do not recommend staying in a relationship in hopes that someone dangerous will suddenly change. Anger issues take time to get past, and some people with these problems never decide to put in the time to change. No matter what you decide, be sure to take care of yourself first and seek help if you need it. If you’re being abused, try talking to a therapist who can help you make a plan.
What Helps with Anger Issues?
Long-term solutions for anger issues involve addressing the underlying problem. The first step is often to undergo a full psychological evaluation. Depending on the situation, a treatment plan could include a combination of:
- Individual Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Lifestyle Changes
Because these treatment plans take time to work, it’s important for people with anger issues to find healthy coping mechanisms that can work in the short-term as well. A therapist can help with this.
What Can I Do If My Partner Has Anger Issues?
Most importantly, ensure your safety. You can’t help anyone if you are not safe. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 to get help and connect with resources.
When you are not in immediate danger, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for guidance. They can help you make a plan either for leaving safely or helping your partner get help. It can be helpful to get an outside, professional prospective on the situation.