Anger!  It’s an uncomfortable emotion we have all felt at some point in time. Recognizing anger and controlling our reactions to it are very important to mental and physical health, including successful diabetes self-care. Understanding what anger is, its symptoms and effects on the body, and ways to manage it can be helpful in not letting it get the best of us.


What is Anger?


According to the American Psychological Association, anger is defined as “an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” Symptoms of experiencing anger may involve:


  • headache
  • increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
  • sweating, namely in the palms
  • stomach distress
  • shaking or trembling
  • dizziness
  • hot feeling in the face and neck
  • jam clenching and/ or teeth grinding
  • muscle tension
  • loss of energy
  • and, for those with diabetes, increased blood sugars


Sometimes anger occurs as part of a group of emotions- feeling irritable, frustrated, anxious, guilty, grief and overwhelmed can accompany anger as well.


What Causes Anger?


The causes of anger are complex and unique to each individual.  Common causes or triggers of anger include:


  • chronic stress
  • problems/arguments with family or friends
  • financial issues
  • experiencing social injustice
  • an underlying disorder such as alcoholism, obsessive compulsive disorder or depression


How Do We Express Anger and what are Anger Issues?


In addition to having a range of symptoms and causes, the way each person expresses anger can also differ. Examples of different ways people manifest anger are:

  • Outward anger- expressing anger in a very outright way such as shouting, cursing, throwing/breaking things or being physically or verbally abusive to others
  • Inward Anger- directing anger inward towards oneself, such as negative self-talk, physical self harm, or withdrawing/not allowing self to have things that are enjoyed
  • Passive Anger- being passive aggressive, subtle and indirect such as sulking, giving others the silent treatment


Being angry occasionally is one thing but if it gets out of control it can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Identifying your anger issues, is the first important step to realizing and admitting there may be a problem. You may have chronic anger issues if you:


  • experience anger outbursts often
  • have constant hostile and negative thinking
  • get out of control mentally or physically when angry
  • your anger is hurting others and damaging relationships
  • feelings of anger disrupt your daily life


What is Anger Management and Why is it Important for Diabetes Self Care?


Being angry at times about having diabetes and dealing with it day in and day out is actually common and understandable, but not dealing with anger properly can be harmful to health and diabetes management in the long term.  It is important to be able to recognize issues with anger and develop strategies to cope in a healthy and productive way.  Chronic anger issues can wreak havoc with your physical health, causing problems with blood sugar and your cardiovascular system, along with being very taxing to mental health- all of which make it difficult to focus and stay on track with your diabetes self-care plan.


Fortunately, there are ways to get help and work on anger issues, so you don’t need to feel alone in trying to deal with the challenges of the emotion.  Below are some anger management options to help:


  • mindfulness techniques such as meditation, yoga and relaxation exercises to help let go of anger
  • working with psychotherapist 1:1 for behavior therapy and utilizing medication management if warranted (namely in cases of co-existing depression or OCD)
  • support groups to connect and discuss similar issues being experienced anger management classes led by a qualified instructor to work on regulating emotions, coping strategies and healthy communication techniques