Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

Anger management a lifesaver?

At Psychology Melbourne we've put a lot of effort over many years into helping clients learn how to manage their anger, with individual anger counselling and highly effective, affordable separate anger management classes for men and for women (because each experiences anger differently).

The most recent of those classes ended recently, and will be repeated shortly. 

We've been advising clients for at least a year that the widespread belief that expressing acute anger is better than "bottling it up" is completely wrong, and that "letting it rip" doesn't diminish anger at all. It intensifies it.

We've pointed out on our web site that there are serious health risks associated with angry outbursts and that your anger can literally kill you. 

We based that advice on a research study of thousands of heart attack victims that showed that those who recalled having flown into a rage during the previous year were more than twice as likely to have had their heart attack within two hours of that episode … and the more extreme the anger, the greater the risk.

We were therefore slightly bemused back in 2015 to read reports in newspapers around the world that research at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital and the University of Sydney published in Europe showed that ... displays of intense anger could trigger a heart attack within two hours of the episode. Sydney University has a press release on the topic.

While it's great to see research results confirmed, it gave us a distinct sense of deja vu. If journalists have been so slow to catch up with the news that anger can kill, it's hardly surprising that so few people are taking active steps to manage their anger.

But there is another interesting finding in the report: high levels of anxiety are even more likely to trigger a heart attack than anger. According to the report, people suffering anxiety attacks had a 9.5-fold higher risk of having a heart attack in the two hours after the episode.

We have regular classes throughout the year on managing panic attacks and anxiety.

It's very satisfying for our psychologists who teach these courses to realise that they may well have saved lives.