Anger is an emotion that is experienced in response to specific stressors. It is a very common emotion and each one of us must have had experienced it. Anger is the most common negative emotion that is experienced and is characterized by the short term feeling of displeasure and antagonism towards someone or something.
Every individual regulate anger in different ways and it can be classified into three types - anger suppression, outward anger suppression, and controlled anger expression.
- Anger suppression is a type in which an individual regulates the feelings in their own mind. This suppressing of anger causes them to withdraw from others. It is often accompanied by irritability, the occurrence of depressive symptoms, and reduction in life satisfaction.
- Outward anger suppression is a type in which an individual expresses their anger toward others. It can be shown through multiple ways such as by doing nasty things or abusing. It has been noticed that this type of anger regulation is associated with reduced perceived stress.
- Controlled anger suppression is the last type of anger regulation in which an individual reduces the internal experience of anger and run the risk of ignoring anger.
Although anger is a normal emotion if increases it can cause devastating effects on the health of a person. Its effects can range from mild, moderate, to severe and could lead to both acute and chronic diseases.
How anger contributes to psychological disorders?
Our emotions have a direct impact on the brain. Multiple studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of anger on the health of an individual and it was noticed that before any other part of the body, anger affects the brain. Whenever an individual is angry, its brain detects it and then signals to the body how to react. Anger is accompanied by the increased secretion of the stress hormone, cortisol. Although cortisol has many functions in the brain, more than the required amount of cortisol can have many negative impacts on the functioning of many systems. There are many mechanisms through which anger affects the brain.
- The human body consists of many cells and any abnormality or problem in the cells has a direct impact on the functioning of the part of the body where cells belong to. High level of cortisol in the body causes the neurons to absorb more calcium and its buildup leads to an increase in the functioning of cells which results in the death of the cells. It is believed that hippocampus and prefrontal cortex is more likely to get affected by it. As a result, the functioning of these parts in the brain is also affected.
- Depression is one of the common psychological disorders and research states that frequent and prolonged anger could contribute to its development. Too much cortisol in the brain is associated with a decrease in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical which is important for well being and happy mood. Therefore, decrease in the serotonin levels can increase sadness and also behavior that is associated with aggression, resulting in depression.
How anger contributes to cardiovascular disease?
In many studies, researchers have stated that anger has a direct impact on the heart of a person, and high blood pressure which is one of the most common causes of heart disease is one of the mechanisms that explain the correlation between anger and heart health.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension is one of the most common health problems faced by people across the world. It is a silent killer which has many deleterious effects on the body, especially the heart. Anger is believed to be one of the reasons in people who complaints of suffering from high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is defined as a pressure on the walls of the arteries. Generally, the pressure keeps on fluctuating the entire day, but when it stays high or long for a long time, it is considered to be a disease. When the pressure becomes higher than normal, it is known as high blood pressure.
Anger or any other emotional stress causes harm and whenever the brain senses any threat or harm, the nerve fibers in the brain releases many chemicals within the body. Anger causes the brain to release adrenaline and noradrenaline which helps the body to control heart rate and blood pressure. Fluctuations in the release of these chemicals affect blood pressure and heart rate.
Release of these chemicals also affects the glucose level in the blood. It increases the level of glucose in the body which is again a risk factor for the occurrence of heart or cardiovascular disease.
How anger contributes to thyroid disorders?
It is believed that people who experience frequent anger are more likely to suffer from thyroid disorders. The thyroid is a gland which is important for many functions in the body, but primarily it is important for the secretion of two important hormones - thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These two hormones are important for many functions in the body such as metabolism. Fluctuations in the release of these hormones contribute to the occurrence of thyroid disorders.
Anger often leads to a lack of these hormones and stress or stress hormone (cortisol) is the major cause of it. Cortisol affects the production of these hormones, resulting in hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland becomes underactive and fails to produce hormones that are sufficient enough to fulfil the needs of the body.