We get anxious. We get angry. But we don’t always know why. We also don’t usually see the relationship between these two emotions. Anxiety and fear? Yes, certainly these two emotions are frequently linked. However, researchers working in the field of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) have also found a clear and important connection between anger and anxiety.
What is GAD?
GAD is a condition that impacts roughly 7 million American adults and is twice as likely to occur in women. Its hallmark is a persistent, excessive, and uncontrollable worry.
- It usually manifests gradually and can begin at any point in our lives.
- Many factors can play a role but no exact cause is known.
- Besides the emotional issues with worry, GAD presents with physical symptoms, too.
- In extreme cases, even basic daily activities are a struggle.
The connection between anxiety and depression is often recognized. Anxiety as an engine for anger may be less discussed but just as common.
5 Ways Anxiety is Fueling Your Anger
- Irritation is a form of anger
GAD puts us in a perpetual state of agitation and irritation. Such a state may not present like rage but it’s absolutely on the anger spectrum.
- The Blame Game
Anxiety leads us to find someone to blame. Once a scapegoat is identified, well, here comes the anger again.
- Feeling out of control
When our worry is out of control, we feel out of control. Such perceived helplessness causes us to lash out.
- Creating a cycle
In a 2012 study, researchers found that high levels of anger intensify GAD symptoms. It’s not unusual to experience prolonged anxiety about an anger episode. We feel guilt, shame, doubt, anxiety, and yes…more anger.
- Loss of patience with oneself
To maintain its power, GAD tells you lies. It tells you, “you can’t change,” “it’s your fault,” and “you’re not good enough.” You lose patience with your situation and aim your anger inward. Then the cycle starts all over again.
5 Things to Do About It
- Create a healthy mind-body foundation
There’s never a bad time to start a self-care regimen. For our bodies, we can focus on healthy sleeping, eating, and activity habits. As for stress management, relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, meditation, Tai chi, and yoga
- Identify your triggers
Both anxiety and anger are less daunting when we can see them coming. Try journaling to keep track of your patterns. Reassess your behaviors, social circles, and daily life. Identify who or what may set off the negative cycles.
- Identify your reactions
When you’re anxious on the inside, you can appear angry on the outside. Whether you’re angry or not, this perception can and will provoke counter-reactions that inspire more anger and anxiety.
- Remember that a negative emotion cannot manage another negative emotion
Anger cannot soothe anxiety…and vice versa. Create a support system to call on when GAD acts up. Choose to find positivity amidst the discomfort.
- Practice mindfulness
In the past is where regret lives. When we look to the future, we feel doubt. In the present, you can find more peace. Mindfulness teaches us to embrace and experience each moment. In this moment, you can begin the journey of recovery.
Find the Anxiety-Anger Road Map
When navigating new terrain, we often hire some kind of guide. When trying to decipher the role your anxiety plays in your anger, working with a guide is an excellent choice. Weekly therapy sessions become a form of exploration. Patterns, connections, and solutions suddenly become clear. The more we understand our journey, the easier it is to change paths. You don’t have to go it alone. Help is just a phone call away.
By Counseling Wise on December 11, 2017