Anger, like any emotion, needs to be recognized and acknowledged. If we don't pay attention to it, it becomes a source of chronic stress. An itch we can't scratch. A secret that eats away at us. We need to do something constructive with it, or risk developing a cycle of anger, discouragement and defeat.
Directing your emotions inward rather than addressing them as they happen is also called repressing emotion. We might repress a feeling because we feel shame about experiencing that emotion, because we feel hurt or simply because we don't know how to express the feeling. It's vital that we learn how to regulate and balance our emotional expression.
Take, for instance, road rage. Maybe it's your daily commute that fires you up. You may, as many people, merely curse other drivers from the safety of your car. Or you could, as Jack Nicholson famously did, lose control and (golf) club another car in an outward act of rage. Or maybe your road rage takes the form of a panic attack. You know you shouldn't let your emotions get the best of you, but what about when they do?
We need to know how to express our emotions to be healthy humans. Allowed to linger below the surface, anger and other ignored emotions can fuel some potentially big problems including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other chronic psychological and physical disease as well as social and relationship problems.
The most common depression treatments, such as psychotherapy and prescribed medications, are often successful. Psychotherapy, specifically, offers a safe place for people to express their anger -- and any other feelings that may need to be acknowledged and understood, as well as an opportunity to learn how to recognize negative thought patterns and behaviors and learn emotion-regulation skills.
More Great Links
- Anxiety Disorders Association of America. "Depression." (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression
- Dryden-Edwards, Roxanne; and Dennis Lee. "Depression." MedicineNet. 2011. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.medicinenet.com/depression/page14.htm
- Hirsch, Jameson K.; Webb, Jon R.; and Elizabeth L. Jeglic. "Forgiveness as a moderator of the association between anger expression and suicidal behavior." Mental Health, Religion & Culture. 2001. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13674676.2011.571666
- Johnson, Sue. "Suppressing/Expressing Emotions." Hold Me Tight. Psychology Today. 2010. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hold-me-tight/201004/suppressingexpressing-emotions
- National Institutes of Health - MedlinePlus. "Major depression." 2005. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000945.htm
- National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Mental Health. "Depression." 2011. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml
- Pelusi, Nando. "Anger, Pain and Depression." Psychology Today. 2006. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200311/anger-pain-and-depression
- Scheff, Thomas. J. "A Social Theory and Treament of Depression." Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. Vol. 11, no. 1. Pages 37-49. 2009. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/springer/ehpp/2009/00000011/00000001/art00005
- Spielberger, Charles D.; and Eric C. Reheiser. "Assessment of Emotions: Anxiety, Anger, Depression, and Curiousity." Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Vol. 1, no. 3. Pages 271-302. 2009. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1758-0854.2009.01017.x/full
- Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE). "Symptoms of Major Depression." (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_ID=A806E240-95E6-44BB-C2D6C47399E9EFDB
- WebMD. "Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Depression." 2010. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-depression
- Williams, Kristi. "Domestic Violence Often Comes From Men Who Repress Emotions, Feel Threatened, Study Finds." Research News. The Ohio State University. 2002. (Feb. 24, 2012) http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/violstres.htm