What’s the difference between “normal” anger and problematic anger?

Anger is one of the basic human emotions. Anger-related feelings can range from minor irritation or annoyance, right up to feeling enraged and furious.

It is normal for people to feel angry from time-time, however, when anger is intense, frequent or expressed in an uncontrolled way it can sometimes lead to difficulties including:

  • Conflict with friends and family
  • Problems at work
  • Violence
  • Legal issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Physical side effects, such as high blood pressure
  • Problematic alcohol or drug use

Bottling up or pushing down anger, or behaving in a passive-aggressive way can also lead to difficulties in these areas.

Man in therapy receiving anger management counselling in Melbourne

Not sure whether to seek help for anger management?

If you are unsure about whether you should seek professional help and anger management counselling, consider working through the questions below. They will help you to identify the cost of anger in key areas of your life.

Relationship costs

In what way has anger impacted your relationship with family members? How about friends or romantic relationships? Spend time reflecting on any relationships that have changed or ended as a consequence of you expressing (or not expressing) your anger. Are there certain people that you avoid because of your anger? Are there certain people who might avoid you because of your anger? Have friends or family ever suggested that you have problems with anger? Do you family or friends ever say they feel intimidated or threatened by you? Do you have any regrets about how you’ve expressed your anger with friends, family or partners?

Emotional and psychological costs

What sort of emotional toll has anger taken on you? What secondary emotions does your anger trigger (e.g. depression, anxiety, guilt shame, hopelessness or helplessness)? How do you cope with these feelings? Does it feel difficult to let go of thoughts related to your anger? Do you find yourself stewing or obsessing over situations or people that make you feel angry? Do you worry about your anger a lot?

Work/career costs

How has anger impacted your work life? Has anger affected your relationships with colleagues, bosses or clients? In what way do you express your anger at work? Keep in mind that anger can be expressed directly (e.g. by yelling or intimidating others) or indirectly (e.g. by ignoring others or not doing a job you said you would do).

Physical costs

Research suggests that there is an association between anger and poor health outcomes. In what way might anger be having a negative effect on your physical health? When you feel angry what sort of physical symptoms do you find yourself experiencing (e.g. difficulty breathing, stomach pain or discomfort, tension, nausea, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, headaches, chest pain, dizziness or hot flushes)?

How can a psychologist help you to manage anger?

At Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology, all of our psychologists are experienced in anger management counselling. We will help you to understand more about the reasons behind your anger and the types of situations that trigger your anger. We’ll work with you to develop a plan for coping with your anger in a healthy and constructive way, equipping you with evidence-based strategies and techniques.