How is this for a head turner – the best anger management technique for some people may be to treat them for depression.
Depression, goes the old saying, is anger turned inward. In my experience, its just the opposite – anger is depression turned outward.
Where am I coming from? Well, everyday life for people who are depressed is experienced as being much more stressful than for people who are not depressed. When you get stressed out, adrenaline and cortisol, which are the hormones which prime you for flight or fight, are released. Your brain looks at this release of these hormones and literally thinks “if these hormones are there, danger must be afoot” and starts to look for it. Now, remember anger, while an emotion, is functionally a protective response to a perceived hurt or threat.
So, here you are, depressed, your body feels stressed by everyday life, your brain looks for danger and along comes one of those little bumps in the road that we all have every day. What happens? The stress level becomes too much and your brain thinks there is a real danger and you get angry.
There are some studies which have indicated that roughly 40 – 60% of people who are depressed appear to struggle with anger management. These people may oftentimes seem chronically crabby or edgy because life is experienced as so stressful. The sad part is that, since the anger management problem is not recognized for what it is, these people are often shunned which makes them feel worse about themselves, more depressed and more crabby. Its a self perpetuating cycle.
As I’ve written about before – anger management problems are often misinterpreted as a character flaw or as the problem itself when in reality the anger management problem is a symptom of something else.
So, if there is someone you know who is perpetually crabby, try to help them evaluated for depression. It may be the best anger management technique you can show them.