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Link Between Anger and Anxiety?

Posted by on Dec. 6, 2012 at 9:05 AM
  • 7 Replies


Link Between Anger and Anxiety?

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on December 5, 2012

A new study suggests anger is a powerful emotion that intensifies anxiety and compromises therapy leading to serious health consequences.

Researchers from Concordia University discovered anger can exacerbate symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition that affects millions of individuals.

Sonya Deschênes investigated the subject after conducting a literature review for her Ph.D. research. In her review of published studies she realized that anger and anxiety were linked, yet poorly understood.

“This was surprising to me because irritability, which is part of the anger family, is a diagnostic feature of Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” she explains.

GAD is a serious affliction characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry about everyday things.

It often interferes with a person’s ability to function normally. Individuals suffering from GAD typically anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about everyday issues, such as health, money, and relationships.

Deschênes and her colleagues reviewed how specific components of anger — hostility, physical and verbal aggression, anger expression and anger control — contribute to GAD.

To do this, the team assessed more than 380 participants for GAD symptoms and their tendency to respond to anger-inducing scenarios.

Researcher’s assessed individual response to statements as, “I strike out at whatever infuriates me” and “I boil inside, but I don’t show it.”

The study, which was recently published in the journal Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, found that in the 131 participants who exhibited GAD symptoms, higher levels of anger and its various dimensions were associated with worry and anxiety.

Furthermore, hostility and internalized anger contributed to the severity of their GAD symptoms.

Experts believe this suggests that anger and anxiety go hand in hand, and that heightened levels of anger are uniquely related to GAD status.

Even more, internalized anger expression — boiling inside without showing it — is a stronger predictor of GAD than other forms of anger.

Deschênes acknowledges that more research is needed to understand why anger and anxiety tend to co-occur.

Researchers believe a possible explanation for the associated between anger and anxiety link is that, “when a situation is ambiguous, such that the outcome could be good or bad, anxious individuals tend to assume the worst.

“That often results in heightened anxiety. There is also evidence of that same thought process in individuals who are easily angered. Therefore, anger and GAD may be two manifestations of the same biased thought process.”

Deschênes also argues that symptoms of anger could get in the way of the treatment for anxiety, which often employs cognitive-behavioral therapy.

“If anger and hostility are contributing to the maintenance of symptoms, and these are not targeted during treatment, these people may not be benefiting as much from that treatment,” Deschênes said.

“It’s my hope that, by furthering our understanding of the role of anger in GAD, we can improve treatment outcomes for individuals with this disorder.”

by on Dec. 6, 2012 at 9:05 AM
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Replies (1-7):
Tracys2
by on Dec. 6, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Very interesting, although I hate the anger. I don't want to be angry. My father was angry and I prefer to internalise it against myself, rather than subject others to it (well, we all know that doens't work, but it can to some extent and sure beats 'I'm angry at the world' attitude)

matreshka
by Ruby Member on Dec. 6, 2012 at 10:58 AM

I can be angry too, and I usually take it out on myself. I don't think anyone wants to be angry.  My therapist recently told me that tehre is always an underling emotion behind anger, be it hurt, sadness, frustration.

Quoting Tracys2:

Very interesting, although I hate the anger. I don't want to be angry. My father was angry and I prefer to internalise it against myself, rather than subject others to it (well, we all know that doens't work, but it can to some extent and sure beats 'I'm angry at the world' attitude)



rhodaj
by rho on Dec. 6, 2012 at 11:27 AM

This is good info. I don't like anger but when I am angry with someone I have learned to tell them why I am angry. This were my boundries start. When someone has made me angry I start using the boundries of the limit of time spent with them and what I allow from them

deltathree
by Gold Member on Dec. 6, 2012 at 3:23 PM

hmmm...interesting - thx!

AnayaFatima
by on Dec. 6, 2012 at 3:33 PM
I personally know the relationship between anger and anxiety. Every time I get angry and take it out on someone I experience great anxiety afterwards. So now I try to calm myself and talk peacefully instead of yelling and shouting.
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Lunatic6997
by on Dec. 6, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Great info and know in my case it's true. I have always struggled with anger and when I can't or don't express it, I feel like I'm having a heart attack!

lyrick24
by Ruby Member on Dec. 6, 2012 at 5:14 PM

 i can relate to this.

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