How Fear and Trauma Contribute to Anger

Figure points angrily at another due to their unmanaged trauma and fear that can be treated at the Mental Health Center at Destination Hope

Feeling upset or angry about a situation is a normal reaction; however, certain forms of anger result in self-destructive or potentially dangerous behaviors, such as substance abuse. According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, around 70% of all adults face at least one traumatic experience in their lifetime.

Depending on the factors contributing to the traumatic experience, the way an individual reacts will vary. In some cases, the fear associated with traumatic experiences directly cause feelings of anger.

What is Trauma or Fear?

Trauma stems from a specific experience that leaves a lasting impression on an individual’s mind. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when someone experiences something shocking or threatening that leaves them feeling helpless.

Types of trauma that impact an individual’s lifestyle include:

  • Severe accidents that cause an injury, such as a car accident
  • Going to a war zone and engaging in a battle
  • Witnessing a crime
  • Facing severe and lasting traumatic experiences, such as physical or sexual abuse during childhood
  • Being betrayed by a loved one, close friend or intimate partner
  • Being the victim of a violent crime

The fear associated with the traumatic situation impacts a loved one’s emotional response. When a loved one develops post-traumatic stress disorder (which occurs in almost 8 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs), he or she responds with fear and worries. In some cases, the fear develops to the point that he or she acts out in anger.

The Self-Defense Response

The cause of the anger stems from the feelings of helplessness or vulnerability associated with the situation. For example, when a loved one fears the behaviors of another individual, he or she reacts with anger to try reducing the feeling of vulnerability or fear.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, anger gives a loved one the energy to cope with the stress and danger associated with a traumatic experience. It provides the energy a loved one needs to continue moving forward after a difficult or challenging situation.

As a result, it commonly occurs after a someone faces a traumatic experience or even in the middle of a traumatic experience.

Anger is a response to the danger associated with trauma. It disassociates the feeling of fear so that an individual focuses on survival in an extreme and dangerous situation. By reacting with anger, a person can survive the situation.

How Fear and Trauma Contribute to Anger

Fear causes a someone to react with anger, particularly when it stems from post-traumatic stress disorder or the lingering effects of a traumatic experience. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, anger causes problems when it stems from trauma and fear because a loved one reacts without a life-threatening situation.

Essentially, a loved one becomes angry in inappropriate situations. Since the reaction often contributes to substance abuse, encouraging a loved one to seek professional help for fear or PTSD helps the individual learn better ways to handle vulnerability, fear and personal behaviors.

Fear directly causes anger to help a loved one survive a dangerous situation. Feeling angry is a natural response; however, it also causes harm when the anger persists. Treating PTSD helps a loved one learn better coping strategies and limits the risk of self-destructive behaviors. If you or someone you love is experiencing the side effects of trauma or PTSD, we are here to help. Mental Health Center at Destination Hope specializes in treating PTSD and dual-diagnosis through specialized programs that help individuals learn how to cope with their feelings in a healthy way that allows them avoid bursts of anger.

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