ANGER – TO EXPRESS OR CONTROL? WHICH IS HEALTHIER?

In the past it was often felt that expressing our anger was a healthy option rather like turning on a tap to relieve pressure. More recently there is more evidence to suggest that expressing anger with outbursts can damage our physical health. Even feeling unreleased anger is not a healthy option as there’s quite a bit of research indicating the role chronic and protracted anger plays in undermining heart health. In a really influential study at Stanford University Medical School (Ironson G, et al. (1992) ‘Effects of anger on left ventricular ejection fraction in coronary heart disease.’ American Journal of Cardiology, 70′) it was found that when heart patients were asked to just recall past incidents that had made them angry their hearts started pumping at least 5% less efficiently-cardiologists consider a drop of 7% in pumping efficiency as bad enough to cause a heart attack.

Angry people may also be more disconnected from society, have fractured relationships and be overly self referential. Isolation is also harmful to health. So, to express or control anger is not really the issue. We need to find ways to lead a non-angry life.

Therapy is useful for those experiencing anger by helping them find coping mechanisms, learn relaxation techniques, visualise more positive behaviour when triggers are present or discover how to release past trauma related to the cause of their anger. Like most learnt behaviour, which anger can be classed as, it is possible to unlearn.

See also: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20410251 https://circ.ahajournals.org/content/101/17/2034.full http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0906a.shtml http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109708041259 http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/09.21/01-anger.html

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