What is anger?
Anger is one of a range of emotions that we all experience. It’s ok and perfectly normal to feel angry about things that you have experienced. Sometimes, though, you can feel angry and not know why.
Anger can start to become a problem when you express it through unhelpful or destructive behaviour – either towards yourself or other people. It can also contribute to mental health problems developing and make existing problems worse.
If you find yourself doing these sorts of things, it might be a sign that you need some support:
- Hitting or physically hurting other people
- Shouting at people
- Breaking things
- Losing control
- Spending time with people who get you into trouble
- Constantly ending relationships or getting in trouble at school or work
Why do you feel angry?
Everyone feels a variety of emotions, including anger. Problems at school or at home may make you feel angry. You might feel unhappy after falling out with a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend and these emotions come out as anger.
You may feel misunderstood by your parents or carers, or be confused about your sexuality. You may even have experienced neglect or abuse.
How anger can affect you
When we get angry, it can be hard to think things through – especially if that anger seems overwhelming or uncontrollable. And if we feel angry a lot of the time – in other words, if we get into constant patterns of thinking angry thoughts about ourselves or others – it’s hard to take a step back and communicate in a healthy and productive way
We may tense up and clench our teeth. Our hearts pump faster, our stomachs might churn, and we may clench our fists. These are useful early warning signs that we are getting wound up.
When you’re feeling angry, it can be especially difficult to see these things in yourself.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to recognise just how much anger you are feeling, and how it is affecting you. This might be because you have lots of things going on in your life.
After getting angry about something you might start to feel guilty about it, and this can make you feel worse.
Drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs might be seen as ways of coping with anger issues but they make you feel worse and are likely to create bigger problems later.
Get help for anger
If you often feel angry there are things you can do to help yourself. Other people can help too.
Talk about how you are feeling. Parents or carers and other family members, such as grandparents, may be good listeners. Your close friends and other family friends may be able to help.
At school, find a teacher, mentor, counsellor or school nurse who you trust. In the community, social workers, youth workers and leaders will also be able to listen.
You can also see your GP. They may be able to suggest some treatment or recommend a counsellor.
Your GP may refer you to your child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) where you would talk to a specialist about your feelings and behaviour. The specialist may advise you how to deal with these. They may also suggest counselling if there are problems or things that happened in the past that may be causing your anger issues now.
If counselling is your best option, the specialist arranges a series of confidential one-to-one sessions with a counsellor or therapist.
You can talk with them about concerns or problems you might have. The counsellor will help you work through your issues and give you skills and strategies to deal with your anger better.
Over time, you’ll learn to manage your anger better yourself. When you feel angry or stressed you can try out different relaxation techniques to help you calm down, such as:
- Going for a walk
- Listening to music
- Taking deep breaths
- Doing some exercise
- Doing something you enjoy - skateboarding, painting, swimming
- Talking to someone about how you are feeling
- Playing computer games to take your mind off it
- Reading a book
- Having a hot bath
If you have a problem with someone, talk to them calmly rather than jumping in aggressively. Think about what you want to say beforehand and how you want to get your point across. Listen to their point of view and put yours across too.
You can learn to cope with your anger. Walk away from a situation to calm down, rather than saying or doing something you might regret later. We can help you.
If you are a parent or carer of a child or young person who has anger issues, take a look at our parents guide to anger advice page. We can also support you through our Parents Helpline. We are here to listen to you, and give you free, confidential advice and information.
Helplines and services available
Ditch the Label
- If you're under 19 you can confidentially call, email or chat online about any problem big or small
- Freephone 24h helpline: 0800 1111
- Sign up for a childline account on the website to be able to message a counsellor anytime without using your email address
- Chat 1:1 with an online advisor
- A place for you to get advice and information about counselling in the UK, if you're aged 12-25.
- If you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need.
- Freephone: 0808 808 4994 (13:00-23:00 daily)