The Relationship Between Anger and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Anger and PTSD: What Happens and What Can Be Done to Help

Anger and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often occur together. Common in this condition, anger is one of the hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. How much do you know about anger and PTSD?

It's important to know that the anger of people with PTSD can become so intense that it feels out of control. When that happens, they may become aggressive toward others or even harm themselves.

But that doesn't always happen, and not everyone with PTSD lashes out angrily. Keep in mind that anger is only one symptom of PTSD; in fact, it's not a requirement for receiving a PTSD diagnosis. It's not always violent, either, although it can be. More often than not, someone with PTSD who tends to feel extreme anger tries to push it down or hide it from others, which can lead to self-destructive behavior.

This article presents information about anger in PTSD, situations where it tends to occur, and some ways to help keep it under control.

Hyperarousal Symptoms of PTSD

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Anger and irritability are hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. Think of hyperarousal as a constant state of "fight or flight." Learn about the other hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD.

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Constructive and Destructive Anger in PTSD

People often view anger as primarily a negative or harmful emotion. But that's not always the case. It's true that anger can often lead to unhealthy behaviors (for example, substance abuse or impulsive actions). But feeling angry isn't "bad" in itself. It's a valid emotional experience--and it can provide you with important information.

You may have heard anger classified into two types: constructive anger and destructive anger. Constructive anger can help with healing, forward movement, and recovery, while destructive anger can cause harm. Learn more about this important difference, as well as ways of managing constructive and destructive anger, in this article.

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Anger and PTSD in Combat Veterans

As the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, we are learning more about their impact on  men and women in military service. It's become clear that these veterans are at risk for a number of mental health problems, including PTSD and extreme anger. Learn more about anger among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with PTSD.

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PTSD and Relationship Violence

Unfortunately, research has found a connection between PTSD and relationship violence. Intimate-partner abuse happens more often than you may think: On a yearly basis, between 8% and 21% of people in serious intimate relationships take aggressive actions against their partners. This article presents some research on the relationship between PTSD and relationship violence and explains why they may be connected. It also offers resources for seeking help if you or someone you know is a victim of relationship violence.

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Self-Destructive Behaviors in PTSD

Although intense anger can cause people with PTSD to be aggressive toward others, more often than not they'll try to push down or hide their anger. This can be effective in the short-term, but in the long-term, it can build up the anger until it's out of control. When that happens, some people turn their anger on themselves in the form of self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse or deliberate self-harm. Some common self-destructive behaviors typical of anger and PTSD, along with ways to cope with them, are presented in this article.

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Anger Management Techniques

As you probably know, anger can be a very difficult emotion to manage, especially if it feels intense and out of control. This article presents some basic coping skills for managing anger.

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Taking a Time-Out From Anger

Because anger and PTSD often occur together, many PTSD treatments incorporate anger management skills, which may include taking a "time-out" when you feel yourself starting to get angry. It's an easy skill to learn. This article takes you through the steps of using a time-out to control your anger.

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Using Self-Soothing Skills for Anger

Have you heard about using self-soothing skills to help manage your anger? They're easy to learn and use because they're designed to make you feel better, and you do them on your own. Self-soothing skills make use of your five senses--touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. This article shows you how to use some basic self-soothing skills to help keep your anger under control.

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Seeking Out Social Support

Talking with others as a way of "getting your emotions out" can be effective in preventing anger from building up inside. For one thing, it can help you see another person's point of view; for another, it gives you the opportunity to express your frustrations in a constructive way. Of course, it's important to make sure that you reach out to people you trust who will understand and support your feelings. Learn some ways of establishing healthy types of social support here.

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Anxiety Management Skills for Anger

Believe it or not, coping skills for managing anxiety can also help you manage your anger effectively. Why? Because intense anger and anxiety are similar emotions in that both tend to ignite a "fight or flight" response. So when you learn skills for coping with intense anxiety, you're also learning ways to keep your anger at less intense levels. Some basic anxiety coping skills are presented here.

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