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How to Help Someone with Anger Issues?

Anger Issue couseling

Anger is a normal human emotion, and can even serve a healthy purpose. Anger alerts us when we are in an unsafe situation or when a boundary has been crossed and we're not being treated well. Anger protects us and helps us stand up for ourselves and others. But, like any emotion, too much anger can be a problem. Anger issues occur when your anger becomes too big to control and it lashes out at others or yourself. 

The Mental Health Organisation’s ‘Boiling Point’ report found that one in five people (20%) have ended a relationship or friendship with someone because of uncontrolled anger or anger issues. Living with someone with anger is not easy – it can drain your energy, impact your mental health, and damage relationships beyond repair. When angry emotions are expressed negatively, it affects your well-being and leaves you feeling frustrated and unheard.  

Anger issues hurt everyone involved. If you love someone who deals with anger issues and want to help them in their quest for peace and stability, read on for our best tips. 

Signs of Anger Issues

Anger presents differently in everyone. And remember that just experiencing anger does not mean you have a problem. It is when anger becomes a maladaptive response to uncomfortable experiences that anger issues arise.

You might be experiencing anger issues if you:

  • Feel constanty irritated with others 
  • Are quick to snap, like your anger is always just under the surface waiting to blow up
  • Are angry in multiple situations across multiple triggers (there aren't just one or two things that make you mad)
  • Entertain thoughts or daydreams about revenge 
  • Hold grudges 
  • Frequently raise your voice 
  • Throw items 
  • Punch walls when you're upset
  • Verbally hurt people
  • Become extremely irritated at minor inconveniences

This is not an exhaustive list, and anger may look different for you. While some may exhibit classic signs of anger—slamming doors, punching walls, shouting—others may display more passive-aggressive symptoms that seek to undermine, hurt, and exact revenge through words or behavior like stonewalling, gaslighting, or insulting. 

7 Steps to Help Someone with Anger Issues

Oftentimes, society paints anger as an all-encompasing and evil thing, but anger does not make up someone's entire person. If you love someone with anger issues, you know this, and you may want to find a way to help them with their anger issues. 

The first thing you should do is make sure they want help. Do they acknowledge they have anger issues? Do they want to work on their anger? Are they willing to make changes? 

Your love cannot save anyone. They have to be willing to do the work themselves. Also, you have to draw firm boundaries and keep yourself safe. It's easy to give everything we have to someone we love, but you can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first. 

With that said, here are seven things you can do to help someone with anger issues:

1. Give them space to calm down.

When someone is angry, they are operating from their amygdala – the area of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response and fear processing. When someone begins to feel angry, they are not thinking with their higher brain; they are thinking with their ‘lizard’ brain. Give them the time and space to calm down and have a rational conversation. The calmer you remain, the quicker they will calm down.

There's no use trying to reason with someone who is feeling incredibly angry. They don't have the capacity to think clearly in that moment, so the best thing you an do for them is give them space to calm down. 

2. Have Open Conversations

A big part of anger management is learning what the core of our issue is. We are never just angry because of nothing; we are angry because underneath that we feel dissapointed, rejected, betrayed, embarassed, or afraid. Once the person has calmed down, you can have a more rational conversation that explores what triggered their anger, why they felt angry, and how they can better express their emotions in the future. Now is also the time to express your own needs and wishes and speak honestly. But remain respecful, remember that anger is hiding a deeper wound that you are helping them heal. If you are experiencing your own anger at their reaction, take some time. Only have a conversation when you are both open and ready for it.

Go beneath what they are saying to understand why they might be saying it: what has led to this situation? What could this anger be an expression of? What are their deeper emotions? Ask clarifying questions such as; “you are saying… is that correct?”. Active listening doesn’t mean agreeing with everything that they are saying. It is about recognizing and considering the other’s perspective.

3. Have Compassion and Patience

Understanding the more vulnerable emotions that anger could be hiding, such as fear, hurt, sadness, or pain, is essential. Likely, the person cannot safely access these emotions or address them, an issue potentially stemming from other mental health problems. 

Anger can make a person feel powerful and in control in the face of these unwanted vulnerabilities. Be patient with them, and remember to take deep breaths. It may be too painful for you to confront them with these deeper emotions, but understanding the reasons behind the anger might help you to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation.

4. Help Them Implement Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are skills we can use when we start to feel angry that calm us or provide a different outlet for our anger. They are often key to overcoming anger issues. For example, encouraging them to go for a walk when they start to get frustrated, sitting with them through breathing excercises, or engaging in a distracting activity until the anger calms down. 

Have a plan intact for when they start to get angry. They'll know if sitting and meditating will only make their anger worse.

5. Use "I" statements when you need to address the anger.

Living with someone who has anger issues is hard. They won't be perfect all the time, and there might be times where you feel hurt, betrayed, or offended by their anger outbursts. When this happens, confront the issue using "I " statements. 

For example, don't say "I can't believe you would do that to me." say "I feel like you crossed my boundary when you [insert action]. I felt really hurt." 


6. Encourage them to go to anger management classes or counseling.

Healing from anger issues takes time and a lot of support. Anger management classes or therapy for anger issues are great ways to learn coping mechanisms, get to the root issue of the anger, and be supported by others who have been through similiar expereineces. If you have a loved one who experiences anger, encourage them to seek out therapy for it. Therapy is not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength. 

7. Set boundaries and take care of yourself.

At the end of the day, you have to prioritize your health and safety. Have strict boundaries in place outlining what you are willing to do and when and what helping looks like will keep you from being burnt out. It won't help them to become overly reliant on you; they have to learn to manage their anger on their own.

If their anger is routinely directed at you or becomes aggressive or violent, leave the relationship. Abuse is never okay, even if it is caused by mental health issues. No, anger does not make up a person's whole personality, but if that anger threatens your safety in any way you owe it to yourself to leave. 

What causes anger issues that lead them to take anger management therapy?

Anger has many triggers – it isn’t restricted to just one. Things like stress, family issues, and financial issues are just some of the common problems. While anger might not be considered a disorder, it can be a symptom of several mental health conditions. It can also be some underlying disorder like alcoholism or depression.


Thinking about how to deal with someone with anger issues? Treat their depression first. Often it has been found that people with anger issues have deep underlying depression – persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest lasting at least two weeks. 

Anger can be suppressed or overtly expressed. The intensity of the anger and how it’s expressed varies from person to person. Symptoms can be: 

  • irritability 
  • loss of energy 
  • feelings of hopelessness 
  • thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. A person with OCD has unwanted, disturbing thoughts, urges, or images that drive them to do something repetitively. In 2020, an estimated 3 million people suffered from OCD in the U.S., as per NAMI.
A 2011 study by Trusted Source found that anger is a common symptom of OCD. It affects approximately half of people with OCD.
Anger may result from frustration with your inability to prevent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors or having someone or something interfere with your ability to carry out a ritual.

Alcohol abuse

According to NAMI, 1 in 15 U.S. adults experienced both a substance use disorder and mental illness. Moreover, it has been found that drinking alcohol increases aggression.
Alcohol impairs your ability to think clearly and make rational decisions. It affects your impulse control and can make it harder for you to control your emotions.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. 

Symptoms usually start in early childhood and continue throughout a person’s life. Some people are not diagnosed until adulthood, sometimes referred to as adult ADHD. 

Anger and short temper can also occur in people of all ages with ADHD. Other symptoms include: 

  • restlessness 
  • problems focusing 
  • poor time management or planning skills

Bipolar disorder

Living with someone with anger issues might also mean you are dealing with someone with bipolar disorder. A changing shift in mood characterizes the bipolar disorder.  

These intense mood shifts can range from mania to depression, although not everyone with bipolar disorder will experience depression. Many people with bipolar disorder may experience anger, irritability, and rage periods. 

During a manic episode, you may: 

  • be easily agitated 
  • feel euphoric 
  • have racing thoughts 
  • engage in impulsive or reckless behavior 

During a depressive episode, you may: 

  • feel sad, hopeless, or tearful 
  • lose interest in things once enjoyed 
  • have thoughts of suicide

Intermittent explosive disorder

A person with the intermittent explosive disorder (IED) has repeated aggressive, impulsive, or violent episodes. They may overreact to situations with angry outbursts that are out of proportion to the situation. 

Episodes last less than 30 minutes and come on without warning. People with the disorder may feel irritable and angry most of the time. 

Some common behaviors include: 

  • temper tantrums 
  • arguments 
  • fighting 
  • physical violence 
  • throwing things 

People with IEDs may feel remorseful or embarrassed after an episode.


Anger is one of the stages of grief. Grief can come from the death of a loved one, a divorce or breakup, or losing a job. The anger may be directed at the person who died, anyone else involved in the event, or inanimate objects. 

Other symptoms of grief include: 

  • shock 
  • numbness 
  • guilt 
  • sadness 
  • loneliness 
  • fear

Impact of Anger management Issues

Anger can feel satisfying: it expels the negative energy and often gets results. However, the negative impacts are never worth it. Anger can destroy our health and relationships if we let it. 

Impact on Relationships 

Anger issues have a heavy impact on relationships. Friends, family members, and co-workers may feel like they must walk on eggshells when dealing with a person who has anger issues. Explosive anger can make it hard for others to trust the person, speak honestly to them, or feel comfortable around them, negatively impacting their relationships.

The person’s anger issues can make them feel socially isolated because people don’t want to be around this behavior. Aggressive and violent tendencies can put the person’s family and friends at risk for harm and make them feel unsafe. These factors can disrupt the harmony in the person’s family and social circle and make it hard for them to hold a job. 

Impact on Physical Health 

Anger is an emotional and physiological state accompanied by a surge of energy and specific biological changes in the body. These changes include: 

  • Muscle tension 
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • A surge of hormones, such as adrenaline

Frequent, intense, or prolonged bouts of anger can affect the person’s physical health. Long-term effects include: 

  • Headaches 
  • Anxiety 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Increased risk of heart disease


Though anger issues can be a challenge for some people and a strain on mental health, there are several things you can do to help them control an anger problem. Therapy can help with long-lasting results, make impactful changes to the person's thought process and interpersonal skills, and enable them to live balanced lives.

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