Anger is a normal human response to negative or threatening events. Doctors have known for decades that sustained or recurrent anger takes a huge toll on your health. During episodes of anger, the adrenal glands release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin. Your body tolerates these well for a few minutes, but when sustained for days and months, or when constantly repeated, certain bodily systems begin to breakdown.
What Anger Does to Your Body
Health problems linked to anger include: headache, digestion problems, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and skin problems such as eczema. People who often exhibit anger and hostility also increase their risk of accidents and engaging in unhealthy behavior such as smoking.
Anger affects you mentally as well. Negative thoughts and feelings enter into your subconscious and, when sustained over long periods, can actually re-wire your brain in ways that change your personality and the way you view the world around you. You become increasingly pessimistic, cynical, impatient and irritable. The longer angry feelings are harbored, the worse they become, giving birth to a spiral of worsening mental health, leading to insomnia, increased anxiety, depression, and eating disorders such as bulimia.
Finding the Cure
Too often people end up requiring various types of anxiety medication and anti-depressants to manage the symptoms of sustained anger. While this may ease some of the symptoms, it does not prevent all of the physical and mental damage described above. As in many other diseases, managing symptoms may be helpful, but it is not a cure. Some will try to self medicate with alcohol or illegal drugs. This only makes the problem worse.
For many, the answer may involve professional counseling or anger management groups, especially, when the anger stems from childhood, a traumatic event or has a long history. When accompanied by violent behavior or thoughts of suicide, this is certainly needed. For less acute problems, however, simpler approaches such as exercise or relaxation techniques may do the trick. For many, the answer will include a spiritual dimension. In addition to the above, practice this.
Several studies suggest that if you learn to forgive, you will likely enjoy lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, less stress, less back pain, less stomach problems, fewer headaches and less depression and anxiety.