SWISS MEDICAL EXPERTISE: MALLORCA, ZURICH, LONDON, OFFSHORE

10 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Anger issues in women are one of the most complicated and least understood aspects of women’s mental well-being. All women and men are capable of feeling anger, but cultural and societal values may affect how they handle this emotion. 

Facts about women’s emotions suggest that they are encouraged to be caring and docile, and therefore they may not express their anger or other aggressive emotions. Even when women do display anger, it is not well received, which adds to the complexity of the issue. This suppression and the ensuing bottled-up anger can manifest in different ways, either as passive-aggressive behavior or chronic stress. 

To effectively assist women in managing their emotions positively and productively, it is imperative to comprehend these specific concerns.

Anger is an intense feeling that is caused by a series of physiological responses within the body. To comprehend why people, get angry, one has to look at how the body functions and reacts.

The Brain And Anger

Amygdala: The amygdala is a small, almond-shaped structure in the brain that is involved in the processing of emotions, including anger. This is the body’s alarm system, which identifies danger and causes the anger reaction.

Hypothalamus: It controls many of the body’s functions and the secretion of hormones among them. The hypothalamus is informed by the amygdala that there is danger, and the body’s fight or flight mechanism is triggered.

Prefrontal Cortex: The prefrontal cortex, which is located in the frontal lobe of the brain, is responsible for decision-making and controlling emotions. It assists in regulating the outrageous responses that are instigated by the amygdala and enables us to evaluate situations calmly [1].

Hormonal Responses

Adrenaline: When the hypothalamus is activated it triggers the adrenal glands to release adrenaline (epinephrine). Adrenaline readies the body for a fight by raising heart and breathing rates, blood pressure, and energy levels.

Cortisol: The hypothalamus also releases cortisol which is a stress hormone into the bloodstream. Cortisol is useful for keeping the body awake and active during a stressful event [1].

Physiological Changes

Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: Adrenaline increases the heart rate and blood pressure as it stimulates the heart and constrains the blood vessels. This helps to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles in preparation for physical activity.

Rapid Breathing: The body speeds up the rate of breathing to allow more oxygen to be inhaled and transported to the muscles and other organs.

Tensed Muscles: Muscles tense up when one is angry, especially in the jaw, neck, and shoulders. This is part of the body’s readiness for possible physical combat or resistance [1].

Sweating: The body may start sweating to cool the body in readiness for activity in anticipation of physical activity.

Anger is an emotion that is inherent in everyone and may arise at some point in life. It is a reaction to perceived threats or unfair treatment and can be as mild as annoyance or as severe as anger. However, if anger becomes severe and persistent, it becomes a problem, commonly known as anger issues. These problems can affect relationships, work, and general health in a given society or among people.

It is also important to note that anger is not necessarily a negative emotion. It can be used to create awareness and compel people to act on matters of rights violations. However, how anger is dealt with and channeled can define whether it becomes an issue. Uncontrolled anger results in acts of aggression, social relationship breakdown, and health complications.

Anger Issues in Men

Anger is more acceptable for men to display than for women because men are taught to be aggressive. Anger is also seen to be associated with masculinity and this is why people of this gender are more expressive of this emotion. Anger might be used by men as a way of asserting control or dominance because there is pressure on men to do so. This can lead to more often and severe temper tantrums, and most of the time, it may involve physical or verbal violence. Society does not allow men to be vulnerable or sad and therefore, when they are, they turn into anger.

Anger Issues In Women

In contrast, women are expected to be calm and not to express anger even if they feel it deep within them. If women do display anger, then they are likely to be punished more severely than men are punished. This can cause the build-up of anger which is internalized. The signs of anger issues in a woman may include passive aggression, resentment, or feelings of hopelessness. Another factor that makes it difficult for women to deal with anger is that they might feel guilty or shameful for being angry [2].

Gender Differences In Display Of Anger

Anger is a human emotion that is felt by both genders, but how it is displayed and regulated depends on the culture and socialization. Men may display assertive aggression as opposed to women who may show passive aggression. These differences are not fixed and may greatly differ from one person to another, but they do show how social expectations affect one’s emotions.

The question of whether women are more likely to have anger problems is not that simple to answer. It entails analyzing the biological, psychological, and social aspects that affect the experience and expression of anger in men and women.

Biological Factors

Hormonal Influences: Some of the hormones such as estrogen and progesterone are known to affect mood and emotional behavior. For example, hormonal changes that occur in the course of menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause can influence how women perceive and act out anger.

Brain Structure and Function: Studies have indicated that there are disparities in the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of males and females that may affect the level of emotional intelligence [2]. Such differences may influence the way people experience and deal with anger.

Psychological Factors

Personality Traits: Some people are more likely to get angry due to some personality characteristics that they possess, like neuroticism. Research shows that women may be higher on neuroticism which might be a reason for a higher prevalence of anger problems

Coping Mechanisms: Thus, women and men learn different ways of dealing with stress and anger. The anger might be expressed in a passive-aggressive manner in women while in men it might be expressed more aggressively [3].

Social And Cultural Factors

Socialization: In many cultures, boys and girls are raised differently from their childhood, which is a fact. The boys are allowed to show anger and assertiveness while the girl child is trained to contain herself and not show anger as this is seen as being aggressive.

Gender Roles: Gender roles are a normative practice in any society and dictate how anger can be manifested and experienced. This may make women socially conform to roles that deny them the freedom to express anger hence leading to internalized anger and related problems.

Support Systems: Gender differences may exist in terms of social support where women may have different support systems than men. Women are likely to have more emotionally supportive networks but may also have more responsibilities and stressors which may lead to anger.

Societal Expectations And Stereotypes

Emotional Expression: Men and women are expected to display emotions in different ways and this is what society expects from them. When women show anger, they are likely to be described as being irrational or emotional, which may cause more anger in them.

Workplace Dynamics: In professional settings, women may encounter factors that may lead to anger and these include; Discrimination based on gender, low wages, and restricted career mobility can cause women to become frustrated and angry.

Research And Studies

Prevalence Studies: According to some research, women claim to experience anger as often as men do, but there are differences in how women act on it. It will establish that women may engage in communication and social support seeking to display anger and men may use physical or verbal aggression to display anger.

Mental Health: Studies show that women are more at risk of developing some mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety which are strongly associated with anger problems. Knowledge of such relations can be useful to tackle anger management more effectively.

Dealing with an angry person requires patience, understanding, and effective communication. Here are some practical tips for handling a situation with an angry woman:

Stay Calm And Composed

Keep your voice steady and your demeanor calm. This can help de-escalate the situation and prevent further escalation.

Take a few deep breaths to stay calm and centered. This can also serve as a model for the other person to calm down.

Listen Actively

Show that you are listening by maintaining eye contact and nodding. Avoid interrupting or getting defensive.

Acknowledge her emotions by saying things like, “I understand that you’re upset.” Validating her feelings shows empathy and understanding.

Use Open Body Language

Keep your body language open and non-threatening. Avoid crossing your arms or clenching your fists.

Give her personal space to avoid making her feel cornered or threatened.

Communicate Effectively

Be polite and avoid using any harsh language with the patient. Soft speaking can go a long way in calming the situation.

When sharing your thoughts and feelings, make sure not to use accusatory language by using phrases such as ‘I feel’. For instance, instead of using “You always …” use phrases such as “I feel concerned when …”.

Make her talk about her emotions and ideas and use probing questions such as, “Could you elaborate on what is bothering you?”

Show Empathy And Understanding

Apologize for not being able to understand her and make her feel that you are willing to listen to her. Things like ‘I understand that you are annoyed’ will go a long way.

Instead of getting angry at her and telling her that she is wrong, try to listen to her emotions and try to comprehend why she is like that.

Offer Solutions And Support

Tell her to tell you what she wants and how you can assist her. Cooperate to resolve the problem in question.

Remind her that you are here for her, whenever she needs you. Sometimes it is just good to know that someone is available to assist, this can help lower anger levels.

Give Space If Needed

If she wants time to herself to calm down, let her have it. This can help avoid a more serious confrontation and provide her with the time she needs to cool off and think.

In case the conversation becomes abusive, recommend that both of you pause the conversation and resume it after some time when everyone is cool-headed.

Be Patient And Understanding

Accept that anger does not always go away in a few minutes. Do not interrupt her and let her say all she wants to say.

The problem of inconsistency in your actions can be solved, and this will help to avoid conflicts in the future.

Anger should be managed to ensure that the relationship between two or more people as well as their general well-being is not affected. 

Here are some practical tips and strategies tailored for women to help manage anger:

Understand Your Triggers

Maintain a diary where you record instances or occurrences that make you angry. Knowing what triggers you can assist you in avoiding situations that make you angry or respond negatively.

Identify any patterns in your anger responses. By identifying these patterns, one can be able to find ways of handling such situations in the future.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

If you experience the feeling of anger, count to ten and breathe in deeply. This assists in soothing the nervous system and decreases the level of anger that you have.

Contract and then relax muscles in your body starting from the head down to the toes. This can help let off the physical manifestation of anger that people experience [4].

Engage in mindfulness or meditation to help in focusing and avoid stress. Daily practice can assist you in learning how to regulate your feelings better.

Develop Healthy Communication Skills

Learn to use assertive language by speaking to the other person and not about them; avoid the use of a third person. For example, instead of saying “You make me angry by…”, one should say “I feel upset when…”

Do not interrupt the other person while he or she is speaking. This makes you learn their side of the story and probably you will be more composed in responding to them [4].

Learn how to say no, how to ask for something, and how to say how you feel without being aggressive. Do not use passive or aggressive communication behavior.

Cognitive Restructuring

Replace negative or irrational thoughts that cause anger with positive and rational ones. Try to think if there is another perspective on the matter.

Do not focus on the problem, try to think about a solution to it. This shift in focus can help to decrease the level of perceived hopelessness and anger.

Physical Activity

Exercise is a great way to ease stress and change your mood. Exercises that can be recommended are walking, jogging, or even simple yoga.

Engage in activities that you like doing. It is important to find something that you enjoy doing as this may help you release your frustrations.

Build A Support Network

Sharing your feelings with trusted friends or family members can provide emotional support and perspective.

Consider joining support groups where you can connect with others who understand your experiences and can offer advice and encouragement.

Seek Professional Help

A therapist or counselor can help you understand the root causes of your anger and develop strategies to manage it.

Enroll in anger management classes to learn more about anger and how to control it effectively.

Self-Care And Lifestyle Changes

Make time for activities that nurture your body and mind, such as reading, taking baths, or spending time in nature.

Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol, as these can affect your mood and stress levels.

Set Boundaries

It’s important to set boundaries and not overcommit yourself. Saying no when necessary, can reduce stress and prevent anger from building up.

Minimize exposure to people or situations that consistently trigger your anger.

1. Better Help. Anger – how it affects people. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/anger-how-it-affects-people

2. Healthline. 4 Facts About Women’s Anger That’ll Help You Keep It Healthy. https://www.healthline.com/health/what-you-should-know-women-anger

3. Psychology Today. The Power and Shame of Women’s Anger. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/nurturing-self-compassion/202002/the-power-and-shame-women-s-anger

4. Choosing Therapy. Anger Management for Women: 15 Techniques That Work. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/anger-management-for-women/

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