Imagine feeling nervous, stressed and worried most of the time, or so fixated on a particular perceived threat that it paralyzes you with fear. Living in this constant state of stress, it seems reasonable that you would become frustrated, irritable and even angry, right? For adults and children suffering from an anxiety disorder, this is a very real consequence. In fact, when left unacknowledged and untreated, anxiety can evolve into anger.
What Triggers Anger?
In many cases, anger is the result of witnessing, or being the victim of, a real or perceived injustice. Your mood simply boils over in reaction to a person or event that annoys or agitates you especially if that person appears to be the blame. However, anger is also triggered by underlying emotions. For instance, profound sadness or guilt can lead to anger, as can fear and anxiety. Blocked goals can cause anger especially if the block seems to be unnecessary, unjustified or avoidable. The more unnecessary, for example, the more potential anger.**
Here are some other potential correlations between anxiety and anger.
- Fight vs. Flight
Anxiety is based in fear, which is widely known to trigger the body’s fight or flight response. Rather than flee, some people with anxiety feel the desire to fight, which can manifest as anger.
- Lack of Assertiveness
Anger can be the result of feeling pent up emotions that a person is unwilling to express or deal with in a relationship. The fear of the confrontation could lead to avoidance and anxiety.
Anxiety disorders cause a tremendous amount of irritation, which makes adults and youth more prone to angry outbursts. This is particularly true, if the person experiencing the anxiety believes others are contributing to their stress.
- Loss of Control
Anger is a natural response for many people when they feel they are no longer in control. Since anxiety can essentially take over a person’s life and leave them feeling weak and powerless, anger is a common reaction to this perceived loss of control.
- Anger as the Cause of Anxiety
Conversely, anger can actually be the cause of anxiety. Those with anger issues may experience very deep anxiety as they worry about their ability to control their anger.
Treating Anger and Anxiety
While anger and anxiety do not always go hand-in-hand, some studies suggest that anger may actually be an indicator of the severity of a child’s anxiety. If you are unsure if your child has an anxiety disorder, take the anxiety quiz, but if you are looking for treatment options, check out Turnaround Anxiety. Our 10-part treatment program is designed by a psychologist and licensed professional counselor to help treat children and adolescents with anxiety in the comfort of their own homes. Contact us to learn more, or view our award-winning audio programs online.