Anger is a healthy emotion, and one that we tend to feel, to one degree or another, on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s just a quick flash, like when someone cuts you off in traffic. And other times it can turn into a full blown rage fest, where you hardly recognize yourself. Either way, just like other strong emotions — like sadness or joy — anger can do some weird things to your body.
“When someone is angry there are actual physical and mental changes taking place in your body,” psychologist Dr. Michele Barton, director of clinical health at Psychology Life Well, tells Bustle. “You’re releasing different hormones and neurotransmitters and many more than usual, so the body is overwhelmed with adrenaline and other chemicals that create the rush that people feel physically when they’re angry. These chemicals also affect your brain, so your brain acts differently than it usually does when those different chemicals and hormones aren’t present.”
Again, the occasional bout of anger is perfectly healthy. But if it’s particularly intense, or you’re perpetually upset, it can be detrimental. “The effects on the body are very similar to those for people experiencing anxiety over the long-term,” Barton says. “All of the changes that take place in your body when you’re angry are meant to be for a short-term. When the anger persists longer than that, these changes start to affect your all organs, digestion, sleep, mood, and the list goes on and on.” Below, a few weird ways anger can affect your body, both in the short- and long-term, as well as what to do if you think you might have an anger problem.
1. Your “Warning Bells” Go Off
Again, anger isn’t inherently a bad thing; it’s just a “warning signal” from the body that something’s off. “Anger is often responsible for letting us know when our boundaries have been crossed, when our values are at risk, or when we are not being true to ourselves,” consultant and coach Dr. Barbara Cox tells Bustle. That’s a big reason why it’s a healthy emotion to have, as well as one you need to pay attention to.
2. You Can Turn Into A Different Person
Have you ever been so mad you lost touch with yourself for a minute? “Anger is a highly physiological emotion,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow. “There are so many changes going on when we are angry that we literally become a different person — if only temporarily — if we are angry enough. Adrenalin rushes through our body causing us to feel strong and ready to act. We very much go from ‘normal’ to an ‘Incredible Hulk’ state.”