It’s been a question of contention among many people for a long time, and perhaps you yourself have been asking why anger is bad for your health? After all, we have been told conversely as we grow up to stay calm, and by the same token, told not allow anger to become pent up, so which is it, explode or suppress?
The Short Answer.
The simple and very short answer to this question is “neither”. There you go, it can’t get simpler or shorter than that, can it? So, what is the answer then?
The Reality of Anger
Reacting to a situation, person, or feeling is a normal and healthy thing to do as we all have live in our environment and community, molding and creating our cultures and traditions. But without a structured and mindful approach we can fall pray to reactionary illness. Let me explain….
In a very fundamental way anger is not beneficial to you health as it affects our physical health weakening the immune system, affecting organs and shortening life span, but let’s take a closer at the mess anger can leave someone in.
We all know how important our immune system is and even more so now during the covid pandemic, it’s the foundation we build out health on and the first thing to put up a fight against infections, disease and injury. Individuals with compromised immune systems can suffer greatly from illness that would otherwise be of no great risk in healthy people, something we saw during the HIV AIDS years.
A study carried out by Harvard University scientists asked subjects to recall an angry experience from their past. The results saw the subjects experienced a 6 hour long drop in their antibody immunoglobulin A levels. These cells are first line of defense against infection. This shows a very real relationship between anger and the efficient functioning of the immune system that make anger a prime suspect in many cases of ill health in those who have difficulty in channeling or otherwise dealing with their anger.
So, if you find yourself easy to anger, you may well find that illness is a common situation. Being someone who’s habitually angry an effective way to counter this issue to protect the immune system, is by using coping mechanism such as restructuring your thoughts CBT, Assertive communication and problem solving, and using humor.
Anger And Anxiety
Another effect of anger on a person who suffers from anxiety is a heightened feeling of anxiety, as noted in a published study by the Journal Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
If you are a person who worries more than the next person you may already be aware that anxiety and anger can go hand-in-hand. In this study researches discovered anger exacerbate symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder which is a condition where individuals experience excessive and uncontrollable worry. This is so bad it is accepted that it interferes with the daily life of the sufferer.
Anger Puts Your Heart At Risk
This may come as a surprise but anger is one of the most damaging for cardiac health. Chris Aiken, MD, of Wake Forest University School of Medicine states that “In the two hours after an angry outburst, the chance of having a heart attack doubles,” in addition “Repressed anger — where you express it indirectly or go to great lengths to control it, is associated with heart disease”. Sobering quotes from someone who works in this area. In fact, the same study concluded that people with a propensity for anger are at twice the risk of coronary disease, than their calmer counterparts.
It really puts things into perspective when we realize that so much danger can be done to our health just be losing control, so what’s the answer?
Many things that are in our control can be achieved by slight changes in our attitude and reactions. Basically, the idea of being calm and actively seeking a different approach to an angry reaction is the main focus. For example CBT can help target feelings, triggers and reactions to give more controlled approach to problem resolution using ‘constructive anger’. This is the approach where the individual can speak directly to the person triggering anger in a considered and mindful problem-solving manner. This behavior is not associated with heart disease according to Dr.Aiken.
Anger Is A Stroke Risk
There seems to be a theme running through these pieces and that seems to be that lashing out having angry outbursts is really bad for your health.
An angry outburst has been found to be make the individual 3 times more likely to suffer a brain bleed form a blood clot in the brain, otherwise know as Stroke, with 2 hours of the outburst. Understandably, those with aneurysms are six times higher risk of rupturing this aneurysm following an angry outburst.
With odds like these it’s better to avoid the reactive outburst and as usual it’s about taking control. Better not to loose your temper, breath deeply, engage assertive communication skills to problem solve. This is the same exercise regarding the the triggers, feelings, and finding a mindful solution to the situation. Or be prepared to walk away dismiss the the problem as not important.
Anger Equals Depression
So there is another reason for angry outbursts apart from the primary cause of being in a state of constant engagement. Studies have linked depression with aggression and angry outbursts, more commonly seen in men. It is understood to manifest as the depressed individual stews in the issues causing concern without taking action to make any change, resulting in anger.
In this circumstance it would be advisable to take the mind off the thoughts of depression and anger by distraction in the form of a hobby, pastime, activity that takes full control of the mind, leaving not room or time to consider anger.
Anger Hurt Your Lungs
This is a surprising one, and as a non-smoker I thought my lungs would be ‘good to go’, but I had not counted on my ability to be ‘quick to anger’ at the sound of a dog barking or neighbors shouting, but sadly it’s also an issue for our lungs when we become angered. A study of 670 men over 8 years carried out be Harvard University scientists used a hostility scale to score anger levels in men, and got an interesting result.
The men with the highest hostility score were also the men with reduced in comparison. It was theorized the increase in stress hormones associated with anger where responsible for creating inflammation in the airways, increasing the risk of respiratory problems.
The Take Away
Just as we say eat less and live longer, we can say be happy, and live longer. All these bad habits we fall into whether that is poor diet, sleep, drinking, smoking, the list goes on…But looking after our emotional health is something we easier over look because we don’t always see that we have control of these learned responses.
Just as our parents teach us how to walk and talk, life teaches us that anger is met with results, some of them good and other no so. The over whelming out come is that the ‘squeaky wheel gets the oils‘ so if shouting at someone help you get your way, then why not continue. This is a simplest illustration of how we as adults navigate the would around us picking up unattractive habits, and ultimately, unhealthy habits that will almost guarantee an early death.
Basically, if you stressed and angry, you’ll shorten your lifespan, the same goes for suppressing your anger.
The way forward is rethinking our attitude, learning to express anger in a assertive and constructive way to resolve issues. This can be do using many different approaches such as CBT, Hypnosis, Herbal remedies, Yoga, Massage, Supplements, and other relaxation techniques.
If this was helpful or interesting please share with others who may benefit from this post. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to drop me a line.
Thanks for visiting. See you next time.
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