Anger & A Troubled Past: Post Traumatic Stress & Anger

counselling for anger and agitation

Anger is a primary component of a person’s survival instinct. When your survival is threatened, anger helps you manage the situation by injecting extra adrenaline and energy into your body.

However, in situations where a person has had a prior experience of trauma, the body and mind can be so deeply affected or traumatized by the experience, that it becomes difficult to let go of the anger, or to know when is a good time to let it out. People who experience post traumatic anger might:

–    be quick to anger over trivial matters;
–    misinterpret threats and be easily fearful;
–    become easily aggressive in their communication;
–    express their anger inappropriately, and in serious cases, with physical violence.
–    feel emotionally unrestrained and overwhelmed

Essentially, the trauma sufferer finds it difficult to switch the survival mechanism off, with the result that they are likely to react to any difficult situation as if it was a life threatening one. This can cause a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD considerable trouble in their familial relationships, their friendships and at work because their emotional reactions tend to be outrageously inappropriate.

Types of trauma that can lead to these symptoms of PTSD include a variety of hurts or negative experiences, such as:

–    being the victim of physical or sexual violence, or the being subject to a serious threat of violence,
–    war, and
–    loss (e.g. loss of a child), and
–    domestic violence, including physical violence but also emotional and psychological scarring.

All of these situations can impact on a person’s capacity to regulate their emotions, which leads to inappropriate emotional behaviour, including rage or angry outbursts.

The symptoms of post-traumatic anger can be dreadful. They include:
–    feel tetchy, revved up and ill-tempered most of the time,
–    being easy to provoke
–    heavy use of drugs or alcohol
–    aggressive behaviour, including passive-aggressive conduct and also behaviour that is self-harming
–    lacking trust in others
–    feeling fearful

All these symptoms are indicative of a person who is unable to adapt to normal life, which is essentially non-threatening.

A professional counsellor, psychologist or psychotherapist can work with you to:-

–    alter the way you perceive certain situations to be threatening;
–    challenge the way you respond to these perceived threats
–    recognise your thought patterns and replace these with more positive, less threatening thoughts;
–    help you to be more flexible in your responses;
–    teach you to have greater control over your angry reactions.

Contact Sydney Anger Management Counselling to discuss how our counsellors and psychologists can work with your unique experiences to try and help you lead a calmer and less agitated life.

Call Sydney: (02) 8002 1040.