Men and Mental Health: Anger Management
Anger is a normal human emotion that can be useful in dealing with threats and protecting group members from danger. However, constant anger or uncontrolled rage may require anger management counseling or other therapies.
Sometimes when men experience mental health issues, they choose to cover up their emotional distress with anger. Anger is one of the few emotions that men are culturally permitted to display. It often serves as a catch-all reaction for more complex feelings, such as depression. Unfortunately, too many men do not learn how to control their anger and act out in aggressive or abusive ways that disrupt their careers and undermine their relationships.
Why Men Experience Anger More
Anger is an emotion that everyone experiences at one time or another. However, from puberty onward, men are under the hormonal influence of the hormone testosterone, which is related to feelings of power, dominance and social status.
High levels of testosterone are associated with increased anger levels and outward displays of anger in situations that involve conflicts of power and status. This biochemical fact can make men more vulnerable to reading social interaction in terms of challenges to status and may cause them to react with anger more readily.
Learning to Recognize Angry Feelings
Cultural constraints sometimes make men strangers to their own feelings. Men are often encouraged to be stoic—get the job done and don’t complain. Men often distance themselves from their true emotions and are taken unaware when the reactions come bubbling to the surface. Individuals with anger management issues can learn to recognize anger as it builds in their minds and bodies and apply techniques to neutralize these feelings that often lead to an angry outburst.
Techniques to Deal with Anger
Once a person understands the process of becoming angry, they can then learn techniques that derail the negative emotions and replace them with more constructive behaviors. Common techniques include:
- Deep-breathing exercises when angry can help to relieve stress and allow the individual to re-adjust their reactions.
- Changing your viewpoint to see the issue from the other person’s perspective can provide insights that defuse anger.
- Leaving the environment for a short period of time can help to reduce stress and allow a moment to cool down before an outburst occurs.
- Getting some physical exercise to help work through the stress and emotion.
- Using humor to defuse the intensity of the emotions. Finding the absurd in a situation can allow you the time and calmness to find other solutions.
Getting Help for Anger Problems
Men might be reluctant to admit they have a problem with anger and may resist getting the professional counseling they need to learn new behaviors that will help them deal more successfully with their feelings. Spouses, family members, friends and co-workers can encourage these men to seek anger management counseling and provide the support they need as they increase their understanding of themselves and how their emotions affect their behavior.
Although men may not readily acknowledge that their emotions play a significant role in their relationships and careers, they can be more effective at work and in their personal interactions when they understand the underlying issues behind anger and develop practical tools for dealing with this powerful emotion.