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Family Guidance Blog

Break the Cycle and Learn Anger Management

Anger 2The family of origin is a powerful place of influence. If the family unit is a positive and healthy example, then members will work hard to emulate the dynamics modeled for them. If, on the other hand, anger is a common part of family interactions, members may need to consciously work to learn more positive ways of relating. Anger management is a skill and it can be learned.

It may be helpful to note that while anger is a serious problem, it is not an unusual relationship problem. Many marriages and families struggle with one or more individuals who don’t know how to modulate their angry feelings. The hopeful news is that it’s possible to learn coping skills when you struggle with anger management. The real danger is not experiencing trouble with anger, but in assuming that it is an unchangeable character trait.

Everyone experiences anger, but not everyone allows it to flow unchecked or damage key relationships. Since everyone experiences anger at some point, how can you know if your anger is out-of-bounds?

  • Do you or others around you feel your anger is disproportionate to circumstances?
  • Do you often say or do things in anger that you later regret?
  • Do you frequently find yourself in the midst of angry confrontations?
  • Do you have stomach pains, anxiety or high blood pressure?
  • Do others mention your need to better control your anger?

If these describe you, you may feel embarrassed or ashamed and therefore hesitate to reach out and ask for help. But reaching out for help to learn coping skills is important. Even if you come from an angry family it isn’t too late to break the cycle and learn healthy anger management skills.

At Family Guidance we can help you to develop new ways of responding and relating that keep anger in check and family relationships intact. Call us today and find out how we can help.

Positive Anger Management

Every human being experiences anger. It is an acute and powerful feeling which people can experience across a wide spectrum of intensity. Some people allow their anger to be expressed outwardly in an explosive way. Others, who shun this kind of demonstration, may choose to hold their anger within. Implosion (internalizing anger) and explosion (externalizing anger) are both problematicAnger 2 ways of dealing with the strong but common emotion of anger.

It’s Healthier to Let it Out than Hold it in
As uncomfortable as it is when people erupt into angry outbursts, it is actually better to express anger than it is to ignore it. Holding anger inside without expressing it will not make your anger go away. Instead, suppressed anger will make itself known in other ways.

It can turn into depression, frequent headaches, high blood pressure, anxiety, digestive illness or skin conditions. Even if it doesn’t manifest in a physical or psychological illness, be assured that stuffed anger will still infect your relationships. In some cases, suppressed anger may come out in violent or criminal behavior.

Don’t Explode, Do Practice Anger Management
While it is better to give expression to anger rather than to pretend it isn’t there, it’s not likely to be helpful to explode all over the people around you. Rather than give in to explosive outbursts of anger or silent avoidance of anger’s presence, there is a healthy middle ground in which anger is acknowledged and managed.

1. Self Talk
Recognize your anger, then talk yourself through it. Spend a few minutes telling yourself to “be calm” until the strength of emotion passes. Then turn your angry thoughts into a more positively directed direction.

2. Journal
Write down when you feel angry. Over time you will see what commonly triggers your anger and can work on that issue.

3. Empathize
Admit to yourself that you feel angry and then ask yourself how the other person may feel. Empathizing with others can diffuse angry feelings.

4. Assertiveness
There is an important difference between aggression and assertion. An important part of healthy anger management is learning to be assertive – calmly and orthrightly explaining how you feel – without becoming aggressive toward others.

Assertiveness is a skill which can be practiced. To find out how to develop this valuable skill, contact the professionals at Family Guidance Center . We can help you establish your own solutions for healthy anger management.

Anger and Alcohol: What is the Connection?

Anger 1For a certain number of drinkers, anger problems are just a few sips away. Why is it that alcohol makes some people aggressive rather than passive?

There are several explanations offered by experts.

1. Narrowed Judgment
When a person drinks, their ability to sort through input from several directions becomes impaired. Without alcohol most people can take several factors into account when evaluating someone else’s words or actions. However, alcohol narrows a person’s field of view so that they are less able to process
several pieces of information at once. If someone makes a mistake, the person drinking is less apt to conceptualize several explanations for that person’s error and may instead jump to the conclusion that the other person’s behavior was intentionally malicious.

2. Unrestrained Impulses
Not only can a drinker not collate multiple pieces of information, neither can they check impulsive behaviors as they normally might. Sober, the individual might feel tempted to yell at or strike another person who has offended them, but the certainty of negative consequences to follow checks
their anger. After a few drinks, that ability to pause and weigh the outcome of actions is less active.

3. Social Expectations
Studies show that not only are people who drink more aggressive, but even people who mistakenly believe they’ve been drinking behave that way. People given placebo beverages they thought were
alcoholic demonstrated a similar increase in expressed anger to those actually consuming alcohol. Part of the reason for this could be that drinkers expect to be excused for their bad behavior since they would not normally behave poorly without alcohol. In other words, there is an assumption that drinkers get a
pass for aggressive behavior.

If you or someone you know has anger problems when they drink, encourage them to seek
. And if the person has trouble with anger before they drink, it’s likely alcohol only compounds the problem. The staff at Family Guidance understand the connection between alcohol and anger and they can help. Contact them today.

Know the Warning Signs: When to Seek Professional Help

Mental Health 5For many people, it’s hard to admit the need for help. But throughout the course of life, everyone at some point could use some help. Certainly not every problem warrants professional help. How then do you differentiate between issues that could be improved from mental health treatment and those which could subside on their own?

An article found at Psychology Today provides some insight into when to seek the help of a mental health professional. Here are a few signs that may indicate a need for assistance:

Experiencing trauma In the midst of a traumatic situation, the body’s fight or flight response takes over and helps us self-preserve. It isn’t until after-the-fact that the presence and symptoms of trauma are noticeable, in many cases. If your history includes neglect, abuse, witnessing a horrific event, or if you were a victim of an incident yourself, there is healing in recognizing the presence and impact of trauma with a professional and moving toward healthy coping strategies.

Coping with personal loss Situations like losing a loved one or going through a divorce can literally take the life and energy out of a person. Even losing a job can severely impact personal self-esteem and the will to move forward. Grief from these types of situations can continue for extended periods of time and impact other relationships as well.

Using drugs or alcohol to avoid dealing with problems Relying on drugs or alcohol only serves to make problematic situations worse. If you have trouble giving up substance use despite a desire to do so, or continue to use substances even though doing so yields negative consequences, this could be a sign of an addictive or compulsive disorder that merits further attention.

Warning signs usually start with a person feeling unlike themselves. Perpetual sadness, anger or despair, or continued problems eating or sleeping, should not be ignored. Other signs warranting expert help include loss of interest in things that were once important, a withdrawal from loved ones, or suicidal thoughts. Family Guidance Center is a source of professional help and support and offers services to all income levels. Most mental health problems can be greatly improved with proper diagnosis and treatment. Contact the Family Guidance Center for more information about first steps toward getting help from an experienced mental health professional.

Tantrums More Likely in Children With OCD and Depression

Children Mental Illness 1Any parent of a small child is probably familiar with temper tantrums. Most all children throw a tantrum at some point in their lives, but for children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), these outbursts are likely more frequent. A new study originating out of the United Kingdom also says that tantrums in children with OCD may be tied to depression.

According to a News Medical report online, British researchers reviewed data for over 380 patients receiving treatment from a pediatric clinic specializing in OCD between the years 2005 and 2011. They also examined information collected in the British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Surveys from 1999 and 2004, which included health information for over 18,000 children, 40 of whom had OCD.

Both the clinical and community data supported the fact that children with OCD were more likely to have temper outbursts than children without the disorder. Considering reports of tantrums logged by both children and their parents, 28.6 percent of kids with OCD admitted to outbursts as opposed to only 11.7 percent of their non-OCD peers.

Meanwhile, numbers were also higher from the parental viewpoint with 38.5 percent of parents reporting outbursts for their kids with OCD as compared to only 11.3 percent of parents whose children did not have OCD.

Interestingly, severity of disorder was not a factor in determining outbursts. However, depression symptoms were found to be a predictor of tantrums. Children diagnosed with clinical depression did experience more outbursts than children without the diagnosis. This was true for both reports made by parents and children.

Perhaps the most significant finding was that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was able to reduce the likelihood of outbursts in children with OCD. Treatment also minimized the symptoms of OCD and depression in affected children.

Family Guidance Center is an excellent community resource for addressing concerns with childhood mental health. If you are a parent concerned about outbursts or think your child might have OCD or depression, it’s never too early to look into a professional assessment. The team of mental health professionals at Family Guidance Center can assist in identifying symptoms and developing a plan that addresses both emotional and social aspects of mental health. For more information, contact Family Guidance Center.