If you constantly feel angry for no reason, it’s important to identify potential causes and learn how you can control your anger before it escalates
Anger is a natural response to negative situations, and sometimes a healthy outlet for expressing your feelings about something that has hurt you. To some degree, anger is also helpful in that it can motivate you to find solutions to certain problems.
However, anger can become a problem if you find yourself frequently feeling hostile for no reason, or when your anger becomes overwhelming, uncontrollable, or violent.
How is anger typically expressed?
People express anger in various ways, including:
- Ignoring people, becoming withdrawn or quiet
- Snapping, shouting, yelling, name-calling
- Swearing, making threats
- Lashing out physically, such as throwing objects or hitting others
- Inflicting self-harm, such as cutting oneself or banging one’s head
What causes anger and anger problems?
Finding the root cause of anger is one of the most important steps to managing it.
Common triggers for anger may include injustice, stress, financial issues, family or personal problems, traumatic events, or feeling unheard or undervalued. Sometimes, physiological processes, such as hunger, chronic pain, fear, or panic can also provoke anger for no apparent reason.
Anger can also be a symptom of a mental health issue, such as bipolar disorder, a mood disorder, or eurosis. It can also be caused by hormonal imbalances, such as elevated levels of cortisol due to drugs or tumors, lowering levels of estrogen just before menses, thyroid hormone imbalances, etc.
What can cause someone to be angry for no reason?
While there are many reasons a person can get angry, due to either physical or mental factors, sometimes there is no obvious cause. You may be left wondering why you feel this way and why you are on edge all the time.
Some potential causes of unexplained bursts of anger may include:
- Weak boundaries: If you say yes to things when you really want to say no, or feel forced to do things for others that you don’t feel happy doing, you may feel that people are taking advantage of you. Being a people-pleaser can cause you to feel exhausted and frustrated.
- Lack of sleep: You may not be getting enough sleep, drowning in things to do and staying up too late. This can make it more difficult to manage emotional problems.
- Anxiety: People with anxiety issues usually feel overwhelmed because they need to work hard to manage their emotional state. If you have anxiety and a challenging situation arises, you may blow up without really understanding why.
- Feeling invisible: Feeling unappreciated or unacknowledged can cause anger. You may get angry with your spouse, kids, parents, friends, or coworkers because you feel invisible or undervalued in a relationship.
- Depression: Anger is a lesser-known symptom of depression. About 10% of people with depression experience irritability and 40% have outbursts of anger.
- Control issues: For some people, anger stems from wanting to control everything and getting upset when they are unable to do so.
- Bottling up emotions: Because anger is not a socially accepted emotion, many people try to suppress their true feelings. If you do so often, you may find yourself feeling more and more resentful the more you push away or swallow your rage.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): Anger is a common symptom of OCD and affects about half the people with the condition. A person with OCD has disturbing obsessive thoughts, urges, or images that cause compulsive behavior.
- Alcohol abuse: Alcohol abuse can increase aggression. Alcohol impairs your ability to think clearly and make rational decisions. It also affects impulse control, making it harder for people to control violent behavior.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): People with ADHD can get angry for no reason. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and a short temper.
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD): A behavioral disorder that affects school-age children, ODD can cause a child to become defiant, argumentative, and easily annoyed by others.
- Bipolar disorder: Sometimes, anger, irritability, aggression, and rage can be symptoms of bipolar disorder, which is a brain disorder that causes dramatic shifts in mood. These mood shifts can range from high-energy manic episodes to depressive bouts of deep depression.
- Intermittent explosive disorder: People with this disorder have unexpected angry outbursts accompanied by physical aggression or violent behavior. They may overreact with anger that is out of proportion to the situation at hand.
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD): This disorder is characterized by depersonalization, mood swings, difficulty with relationships, and sometimes self-harm or suicide attempts. Many people with BPD experience anger due to abandonment issues.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): Anger can be a symptom of hormone fluctuations that can occur with PMDD, which is characterized by extreme premenstrual strain that may come with intense mood swings and feelings of anger.
- Schizophrenia: Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations and delusions. The disorder is sometimes associated with anger caused by the perception that others want to harm the person. Paranoid schizophrenia can lead to violent behavior.
When to seek professional help
Controlling anger, whether the reasons are obvious or not, can be challenging at times. Dealing with an anger problem early is crucial, as it can help you to avoid it escalating to the point where you end up hurting yourself or others.
You should seek help if your anger affects your relationships, causes you to constantly feel negative or hostile, you are unable to control your anger, or you become physically violent.
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Medically Reviewed on 7/12/2021
Kids Health. Why Am I in Such a Bad Mood? https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/bad-mood.html
RAND. Are You Feeling… Tired, Sad, Angry, Irritable, Hopeless? https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/2005/MR1198.11.pdf