How can you tell the difference between being upset and having a real anger management problem?
We asked Dr. Redford Williams, professor of psychology at Duke University Medical Center and author of "In Control," for seven signs you or someone you love may be on overload.
If you think you might have an anger management problem, it's important to seek the help of a trained medical professional.
Getting Mad over Little Things
Anger can have a positive effect. "A lot of time, anger tells us we need to take action," says Dr. Williams.
"If there were no such thing as anger, Rosa Parks would still be sitting on the back of the bus," he says. "But racial discrimination was a big deal. Someone who gets miffed about comparatively inconsequently things, like being cut off by another driver or having to wait for an elevator is likely to have an 'anger problem.'"
Angry people tend to be impatient people. Often they have trouble waiting for others to finish what they are saying. And even when they are able to let the other person talk, they might not actually be listen - but just pretending to listen.
Being a Complainer
People who spend a lot of time complaining about the transgressions and shortcomings of other people may have an anger "problem," says Dr. Williams.
Some angry people rant about politics, others about sports or the local PTA. But the venom comes has the same source: anger.
Holding a Grudge
Relationships can suffer when someone has trouble forgiving someone who has wronged him/her in the past. And people with anger issues often have trouble doing just that.
Instead, they continue to re-experience the frustration, pain, and resentment each time they recall the wrong - whether perceived or real.
Getting Red in the Face
Getting hot can make your face red - and that goes for emotional "heat" as well as hot temperatures as measured on a thermometer. Anger can also cause labor breathing, fidgeting, and even pacing back and forth. Anger clearly effects the body as well as the mind. In fact, numerous studies have shown that angry people are more likely to have high blood pressure and to suffer a stroke or heart attack.
Being Overly Sensitive
Angry people are quick to take offense. Comments that others might laugh off can get under the skin of someone who has an angry disposition. Some people with an anger "problem" are hyper vigilant, always waiting for others to screw up.
Angry people tend not to be very compassionate or empathetic. Some take pleasure in the misfortune of others - a phenomenon known as schadenfreude. And some are quick to condemn and slow to praise.