Anger Disorders

Anger Disorders and Anger Control

Assessment through diagnostic interviewing and psychological testing may reveal the underlying problem leading to effective treatment.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

When an individual impulsively and repeatedly loses control over their temper, they have intermittent explosive disorder. These angry individuals may drive aggressively, get into frequent arguments, get into altercations at work, and act irritably at home with their spouses or children and result in domestic violence, property damage, etc.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

A disorder of childhood, the oppositionally defiant child refuses to follow instructions, frequently argues with parents, teachers, and peers, and may act-out aggressively, bully others, getting into fights. As these behaviors continue into adolescence, we often see an intensification of the disorder which we refer to as Conduct Disorder. Fire setting, shop-lifting, cigarette smoking, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, sexual promiscuity,violating the rights of others, such as stealing, gang affiliation. When the behaviors seen in conduct disorder extend into young adulthood, we consider that to be (Antisocial) Personality Disorder.

Individuals that repeatedly and impulsively act in a violent and aggressive manner have Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). Anger may be inappropriately and disproportionately expressed by driving aggressively, getting into frequent arguments, getting into altercations at work, and acting abusively at home with spouses and/or with their children. They may get fired from their jobs for disrupting the work place, or even threatening or bullying others. They may have legal difficulties as a result of physical assaults.

Treatment for anger disorders includes Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), psychiatric medications. With CBT, understanding the triggers of explosive anger is essential to developing control over it. Clients are taught how their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and faulty logic intensifies anger, and causing them to rage and act impulsively and aggressively.

With therapy and self-exploration, clients learn how to move from emotion to language for more effective and mature means of satisfying their needs. Thinking ahead, planning and action strategies are used to help control their temper.  When mental illness is part of the picture, referral to a psychiatrist for medical evaluation and medication in combination with CBT is the best practice.

Anger is an interesting emotion. We understand that the emotional system is located in a part of the brain stem called the limbic system in an organ called the amydala. The amydala is deaf and blind. It has no connections to the sense organs so it cannot see or hear. The only way it can react to things outside of the body is through connections to language center. What you think informs the amydala to “feel.” When we are unable to get what we want we feel frustrated or “angry.” As emotion intensifies, the ability to think rationally decreases. We begin using irrational distorted thoughts (opinion, beliefs), such as (we)”should get what we want” intensifies the emotion. In fact, when believe that not getting what we want is dangerous or unfair, we convert that anger into rage. Rage or failure to manage anger is referred to as a “disorder” when we act on that anger and get into arguments with others, fight with others, drive aggressively, even dangerously and bully others. We can see angry rage in major depression in the form of suicidal or homicidal ideation. It can result in jealous rage. It can be seen in delusional thinking, such the persecutory ideation in paranoid states. We may see it in psychosis with command hallucinations. Anger management can be seen in oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder and in anti-social personality disorder and erupt in intermittent explosive behaviors. Anger disorders can cause serious relationship problems, result in criminal charges, job loss and even death.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) For Anger Disorders

Understanding the underlying perceptions, beliefs and opinions of the person experiencing intensive and uncontrollable anger helps clients to see the distortions in their thinking which result in the intensification and amplification of their emotions.

Additionally, educating clients to recognize their emotions and the language used to express them provides the first step in anger control. Clients learn the importance of language in self-control. With therapy and self-exploration, clients learn the meaning of their anger and develop the maturity to control it. Self-control becomes possible when thinking comes before acting and thinking is rational and logical based on facts and actual experience. Sometimes clients are referred to a psychiatrist to join the treatment team for medical evaluation and medication.

Call now for an appointment for an initial interview at (770) 729-0123.

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