NOTE: After 26 years of marriage to an abusive man, my therapist diagnosed me with not just PTSD, but complex PTSD (C-PTSD) stating that I’d “seen more ‘action’ than any veteran [she] had ever worked with.” There is no shame in survival. However, you may have to undo the dark coping mechanisms you took on.
You’d probably name fear and anxiety as symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, anger is another common sign. Knowing what to expect can help you or a loved one to get the help you need.
There are many reasons why PTSD may make you feel angry. It can be a reaction to past events or it can be tied to your current circumstances if you feel misunderstood and frustrated. You may be angry at others or yourself. You may also use anger to cover up other feelings.
While anger is natural, it can interfere with your happiness and relationships. It’s important to learn how to manage your emotions, so you can feel more comfortable and in control.
Anger Management Techniques You Can Use on Your Own
External events may sometimes be beyond your control, but you can choose how to react. Changing your thinking and behavior can help you to feel calmer and cope with your emotions.
Try these strategies:
- Stay active. Regular exercise reduces stress. Lifting weights or taking a walk outdoors may also provide relief if you’re starting to feel irritated. I love yoga and cardio, but I’m going to start lifting kettlebells and going to Pound classes. My sister is a personal trainer and she says those activities disappate aggression.
- Rest and relax. Your body and mind need time to heal. Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night and find relaxation practices that work for you, like listening to music. Hydrate too!
- Reach out. Talk about your feelings with family and friends you trust. Let them know how they can help you.
- Slow down. Anger can make you say things you’ll regret later. Count to ten or spend some quiet time alone. It will be easier to react constructively if you give yourself a chance to cool down.
- Know your triggers. Do traffic jams or uncooperative coworkers make you see red? Plan ahead for challenging situations. Soothe yourself with a cup of tea and rehearse different ways to respond.
- Think positive. Look on the bright side. Notice the pleasant things that happen each day. Watch the sun rise and play with your children. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Use kind and encouraging words.
- Enjoy a laugh. Suppressing anger can backfire, but sincere humor helps. Find something funny to say about slow wifi and noisy neighbors.
Anger Management Techniques You Can Use with Your Therapist
If you’re experiencing intense anger, it may help to talk with a therapist who specializes in PTSD and will be familiar with your symptoms. Effective treatment is available.
Consider these ideas:
- Try CBT. Are you concerned about how long and expensive therapy might be? Many experts agree that cognitive behavioral therapy is preferable for PTSD, and it usually requires only a few months to reduce anger and anxiety. Havening is now getting more recognition for working on PTSD, so try whatever therapy works, especially with the blessing of your therapy team.
- Join a group. You may also benefit from talking with others who have had similar experiences. Ask your primary physician or therapist for a referral or call a local hospital to ask about what support groups are available in your area.
- Keep a journal. Writing about your feelings can help you to clarify your thinking and evaluate your progress. You can keep your journal private or share it with your therapist. FYI, I blog. Same concept and I keep it anonymous.
- Make art. Creative activities are another way to deal with strong emotions. Working with an art therapist can give you more insights and an opportunity to discuss what’s on your mind.
- Consider medication. Your therapist may recommend medication to help you manage anger and other symptoms at least temporarily.
Developing compassion for yourself and getting the treatment you need can help you to manage anger and other symptoms of PTSD. Let it be the first step in helping you to lead the happy and fulfilling life you deserve.