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How Anger Affects Your Brain and Body

March 27th, 2023

Anger has many dimensions and unfortunately, its consequences can be immense and of a completely different nature - mental and moral, material and physical. The effects that anger has on the different parts of the human body and brain are the subject of research in this post.

Stress Levels Image

Stress Levels Image

It is natural to get angry when you feel like you’ve been wronged by another person, by pure chance, or even by your own self. This negative emotion serves the important purpose of giving us an impetus to act and right the wrong that we believe has been done to us. However, the purpose of fiery emotions such as anger and rage is to give us a short burst of mental and physical energy through the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline in our bodies. Thanks to the effects of these two hormones, we get in a sort of an “action mode” that usually evokes some sort of immediate reaction from us. Once we’ve reacted to whatever angers us, the release of these hormones stops, and we return to a more neutral state of mind. 

However, if we get angry too often and/or if our anger tends to always be very strong, that can have certain negative effects on both our mental and physical health. For this reason, it’s important to have a good understanding of the mechanics of this emotion and to be able to control and contain it whenever something invokes it within you. Below, we’ll look at some common examples of the negative effects that anger can have on both our body and brain, and then we’ll quickly give a few examples of useful habits that can greatly help establish a better inner control of this emotion.

The Heart

Even if you know nothing else about the effects that anger can have on your body, you’ve surely heard that getting angry too often or too strongly is bad for the heart. There are, indeed, numerous studies that confirm this to be the case, and it makes a ton of sense. When a person gets very angry, their blood pressure goes up and their blood vessels constrict, which could cause a plaque inside a coronary artery to rupture. This could, in turn, lead to a heart attack if the plaque gets stuck and forms a clot that cuts off the blood supply to a portion of the heart.

Excessive anger is especially risky in people who already have underlying conditions in their cardiovascular system, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arrhythmias, and so on. In such cases, the chances of suffering a heart attack from a sudden angry episode are significantly higher, which is why it is crucial to find ways to avoid such episodes.

The Digestive System

Have you ever felt a tightness in your stomach after someone or something has angered you? That is no coincidence, as intense feelings of anger and rage can strongly affect a person’s digestive system and cause them to feel a heaviness in their stomach, lose appetite, get cramps, or even diarrhea. The reason for this is that the adrenaline released during angry episodes causes hypermobility in the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract. This is the reason a lot of people feel significant discomfort in their abdomen after they’ve been made angry. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but if you are among the people who experience this type of discomfort, then you know well just how unpleasant it can be. It can mess with your daily routine, cause you to miss meals, and lead to having irregular bowel movements, and lacking energy throughout the day. Another possible issue that could result from the effects that anger has on your gastrointestinal tract is acid reflux (also known as heartburn), which is very annoying and often rather painful, especially when it happens at night. 

The Mind and Brain

In a way, what causes us to get angry is our brain, as a response to some external stimulus, and not the actual stimulus to which the brain is reacting. As mentioned, anger is supposed to motivate us to take action and do something about what has made us angry. It is, in a way, a self-preservation response that’s supposed to help us make things better. However, the real-life effects of getting angry are not always in our favor.

You see, the angry emotion comes from our reptilian brain and so it’s a very primal response to a given situation. However, in today’s world, acting on our primal instincts is not a great idea, because those instincts aren’t adjusted to the nuanced norms and interrelations in modern society. For this reason, such primal emotions such as anger can put us in trouble if we fail to tame and control them. 

This is not to say that we should never take action when something has made us angry, quite the contrary. However, the action must first be considered by our rational minds, so that we are sure that what we do next is proportionate to what has been done to invoke our anger. This is the only way to actually make a positive change in the situation we are in. On the other hand, if we act on pure emotion, without taking a moment or two to think about our actions, this will more often than not make things worse for us and probably cause us to regret what we have done while under the effects of anger.

Dealing with Anger

It’s inevitable to get angered by something or someone - it’s just a part of life and a part of the human psyche. However, to avoid the issues that come with excessive anger, what you can do is practice techniques and adopt habits that will make your mind more resilient to stimuli that have the potential to make you angry. These will also help you control and tame your anger when it inevitably arises within you. Here are some examples of things that are guaranteed to help with managing your anger, provided that you practice them consistently and diligently:

Regular exercise

This is a great and healthy way to relieve anger and stress, which also boosts your confidence. It’s scientifically proven that physical activity helps release the build-up of tension in your mind and body and puts you into a more relaxed and neutral state of mind, where you can think more clearly.

Breathing techniques

Practicing mindful breathing and other breathing techniques is a great way to distance yourself from your emotions while also letting your body fill with oxygen. Feeling anger or any other strong emotions causes us to have short and rapid breaths, so forcing ourselves to breathe deeply and intentionally in such situations can greatly aid us in shaking off those feelings.


Similarly to practicing breathing techniques, meditating is another great way to let intrusive feelings and thoughts fade away and leave you in a neutral and balanced state of mind. There are many types of meditation, but in most cases, the idea is to focus on a single thing, such as a monotone sound, and keep your focus on it, while trying to avoid any intrusive thoughts. Meditation can be difficult, but practicing it and staying consistent can really help become calmer and more resilient to anger and other strong negative emotions.

Finally, people these days often turn to anger management classes as a means of dealing with stress and negative emotions. Such courses are offered in different lengths, with the idea of matching your individual needs, and teach participants a large number of useful techniques and strategies for managing stress and preventing its negative consequences. © · 2024