Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Anger management

13-minute read

Key facts

  • Anger is a normal human emotion that can range from mild annoyance to intense rage.
  • If you don't control your anger, it can lead to aggressive behaviour and violence.
  • Problem anger can be addressed by psychological support and therapy.
  • Frequent unmanaged anger can damage your health and relationships.

What is anger?

Anger is a normal human emotion. It is often triggered by a sense of injustice to yourself or others. It can range from feeling mildly annoyed to intense rage. Everyone feels angry sometimes.

Anger can be healthy when expressed assertively. Sometimes anger can motivate you to change a situation.

It's what we do when we're angry that can cause problems. For example, anger expressed as violence can cause physical injury and even death.

If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger of hurting themselves or others, call triple zero (000).

What are the signs and symptoms of anger?

Anger makes your heart rate and blood pressure go up. This happens as your body produces more of the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. This is your body's 'fight or flight' response.

You may feel:

  • hot, flushed and start sweating
  • your muscles clench
  • pressure building in your head
  • your heart start to pound
  • that you are breathing faster than normal

Emotionally, you may feel like you're:

  • losing patience
  • irritated or on edge
  • frustrated
  • overwhelmed

Is anger a mental health condition?

Anger is not a mental health condition itself, but it can be a symptom of some mental health conditions, including:

What causes anger?

Anger may be triggered by situations that we think:

  • are unfair
  • someone has wronged us
  • someone has humiliated us
  • someone has put our social status at risk

You may find that certain situations are likely to trigger an anger response. If you feel resentful or overwhelmed, you may be at risk of anger.

Do I have an anger problem?

Everyone feels angry from time to time. But it's how you show your anger that matters. If you don't control your anger, it can lead to aggressive behaviour like yelling, throwing things or storming out.

It's not okay to express anger in ways that can hurt you, other people or objects.

If you think you have problems managing your anger, it may help to ask yourself these questions:

  • Has anger caused any problems in your relationships or work life?
  • Do you sometimes have trouble controlling your behaviour when you're angry?
  • Have you ever been angry and later regretted what you did?
  • Have you ever become so angry that you damaged things or became abusive or violent?
  • Have other people mentioned that anger might be a problem for you?

If you answer 'yes' to any of these questions, consider talking to your doctor or a mental health professional. They can help you learn how to better manage your anger.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

What are the treatments for anger?

There are many different types of anger management therapies and training courses. These can be individual, group and online.

Anger self-management

You can control your anger by recognising when you become angry. If you notice you are getting angry, you can learn how to calm yourself down.

It's possible to express anger in an assertive and respectful way. Other people are not responsible for making you angry — you can choose how you react.

If you feel yourself getting angry, there are techniques you can try to stop yourself becoming violent or abusive. If you practise these techniques — you'll be able to use them when you're losing control.

Identify the things that make you angry

If you know the things that frustrate you and make you angry, you may be able to avoid them or do things differently.

When you start to feel angry, ask yourself what is causing it. If it's a valid reason, then you can acknowledge that. But also ask yourself if your reading of the situation is correct — maybe there's another perspective.

Spot the physical warning signs of anger

If you can identify the physical warning signs of anger, you will have a chance to calm yourself before the situation escalates.

Time out

'Time out' means stepping away from a situation and giving yourself space. It may help to say, 'I need to take a break — I'll come back in half an hour'. This gives you a chance to 'cool down'.

Controlled breathing

Try taking 5 long, deep breaths and slowing your breathing. Making your exhale longer than your breath in helps. While you're breathing, try to relax the muscles in your arms and face.

Talk yourself down

Telling yourself you can handle the situation can help calm you down.

You might try saying things like 'Okay, I can handle this' or 'I'm not going to let this get to me'. Or you might try words like 'relax' or 'take it easy' while you breathe deeply.

Try to avoid negative statements that might make you feel angrier. These can talk up the situation, such as 'she's always doing that' or 'how dare he!'.


Shifting the focus from the situation to something else, even briefly, can be enough to defuse a situation. Try distracting yourself by:

  • listening to music
  • counting to 10
  • calling a friend

This may be enough to distract you from what is making you angry.

Use imagery

Picturing yourself in a relaxing situation may help. This may be swimming or lying on a beach, sitting on a mountain top, or reading to your children.

Gentle exercise

Gentle exercise, such as yoga, or other forms of stretching can relax your muscles and make you feel calmer.

Taking your dog out for a walk can be a circuit breaker and change your perspective.

Other treatment options

Problem anger can be addressed by psychological support and therapy. This can help you change your way of thinking or how you respond to situations which trigger your anger.

Counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may help you change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

Relaxation skills training can decrease tension in your body.

Problem solving helps you identify a situation that might trigger an angry response.

Communication skills training can help you learn calmer ways of handling situations which may trigger an angry response.

Anger management training does not dismiss your anger. It tries to help you develop techniques to manage the anger in a healthy way.

If you feel that your anger is out of control, it may help to talk to a doctor or psychologist. You may be eligible for a Medicare rebate if your doctor refers you to a psychologist.

For advice and to get connected to local mental health services, call Head to Health on 1800 595 212. Check the operating times.

What are the consequences of uncontrolled anger?

Long-term, unmanaged anger can damage your health and relationships. It can lead to loss of control and regret.

Anger can lead to:

Resources and support

Here are some online resources that may be helpful:

Alternatively, you can call helplines such as:

You can also call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2024

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Anger management toolkit | MensLine Australia

Do you have trouble managing your anger? Use our interactive toolkits as a starting point to develop your anger management skills.

Read more on MensLine Australia website

Anger & anger management ideas for parents | Raising Children Network

Anger is a natural human emotion. Managing your anger positively is good for children. Anger management techniques and health professionals can help you.

Read more on website

How counselling can help with anger management

Learning anger management techniques, including new ways to communicate and how counselling can help | MensLine Australia

Read more on MensLine Australia website

How to manage anger | Anger management

It's OK to feel angry sometimes. It's how we respond to & express anger that can cause problems | MensLine Australia

Read more on MensLine Australia website

Managing anger | MensLine Australia

Do you have trouble controlling your temper, or have you ever become so angry you've regretted it later? Visit MensLine Australia for support & tips on managing anger.

Read more on MensLine Australia website

Helping others manage anger | MensLine Australia

An interview with Ken Nathan from Interventions Plus about helping people to manage anger | MensLine Australia Changing for Good

Read more on MensLine Australia website

10 tips to manage anger - The SANE Blog

Do you struggle to deal with your anger? Anger isn't wrong in itself, the important thing is having healthy strategies to manage it.

Read more on SANE Australia website

Managing Anger

Read more on Project Air Strategy website

How to calm down an angry teenager - ReachOut Parents

A step-by-step guide to anger management for your teen

Read more on website

Managing your thoughts to minimise anger | MensLine Australia

Tips on spotting negative thoughts & how to manage them | Managing anger is not about denial or suppression, it is learning to express it in better ways.

Read more on MensLine Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.