Effects of Anger: What Anger Does to Your Body and Brain


I came across the effects of anger first hand. A friend I knew lived most of her life in anger and resentment.

It came as no surprise to us when she developed cancer and passed away before her fiftieth birthday.

This might seem like a simple cautionary tale, but according to medical research, the correlation between anger and illness is fast becoming a 21st century truism.

Anger does kill. A study in the journal "Circulation" finds that those who explode with anger are at a greater risk of strokes and sudden death.

What are the Effects of Anger on Your Body?

Emotional stress and anger trigger the release of stress hormone cortisol in the body. Small releases of cortisol can give the body a quick burst of energy.

However, higher and more prolonged increases can bringinto the body a host of negative effects.

It can create a blood sugar imbalance; it can decrease bone density, suppress the body's immune response and make it susceptible to chronic inflammation; it can suppress thyroid function, slowing down the body's metabolism; it can impair the brain's thinking ability and increase blood pressure.

According to Christina Boerma, the physiology of anger is something we all need to be aware of. We cannot afford to ignore the effects of anger on the body.

Anger can raise your heart rate to 180 beats a minute. It can raise your blood pressure from 120 over 80 to 220 over 130, perhaps even higher.

Your breathing becomes rapid as you try to get more oxygen into your body.

Your body tenses and and your muscles become tight.

When you become stressed, your mind is in survival mode and your body releases chemicals to clot the blood, creating a potentially dangerous situation: a clot can travel through the blood vessels the brain or heart, resulting in a stroke or heart attack.

Anger also impedes circulation. Lack of oxygen can cause severe chest pains. Uncontrollable anger can trigger the bursting of a brain artery resulting in a stroke.

Tight neck and head muscles can cause tension headaches, migraines or lead to insomnia.

Even your metabolism is at risk. Anger is blocked energy that can slow down your body`s metabolism. Stress and anger can trigger eating binges and weight gain.

Anger stimulates the release of acids in the stomach causing acid reflux and gastric ulcers.

Anger can also compromise lung function.

What are the Effects of Anger and Stress on the Brain?

Anger comes from the amygdala, the reptilian part of our brain.Resilient people are able to make rapid recoveries from stress, with their prefrontal cortex working to calm the amygdala--which is the remnant of our reptilian emotional brain, the brain that cannot negotiate itself out of an emotional rut; instead it floods the body with a cascade of cortisol or stress hormones.

The effects of anger and stress on the brain cannot be ignored.There is evidence that chronic stress can alter brain function at the cellular level. Researchers at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Calgary have discovered that one of the effects of anger on the brain is that neurons in the hypothalmus, the brain's command center for stress responses can be compromised.

Normally these neurons receive different chemical signals that prompt them to switch on or off.Stress and anger compromise these functions and jeopardize the brain's ability to slow down.

Other studies also show that stress blocks the growth of new neurons in the brain resulting in neuronal death or depression.Increased stress hormones can also lead to memory impairment and learning difficulties.

A link has also been established between emotional stress and the transmission of uneven signals from the brain to heart.

University College London Scientist discovered that the normal coordinates of signals for the brain to the heart can be disrupted by anger and emotional distress. This disruption triggers abnormal heart rhythms which account for well over 400,000 sudden deaths a year.

New studies also suggest that stress can cause neurons to shrink and disconnect. In short, stress promotes the death of neurons, which can explain why stress is the leading cause of depression.


Laughter Dissolves Anger and Stress

There is no doubt that laughter minimize the effects of anger and stress on body and brain. Evidence suggests that simply anticipating laughter releases health protecting hormones and reduces the detrimental effects of stress hormones.In one study, researchers had volunteers anticipate watching a humorous video. Their bodies released stress regulating hormones simply from anticipation.

Beta-endorphin associated with the alleviation of depression increased by 27 percent; Human growth hormone which boosts immunity increased by a whopping 87 percent. All from the promise and anticipation of laughter. In the control group which was not given the option of anticipation, no such increases occurred.

A second study using the same protocol showed that anticipation reduced the stress hormone cortisol by 39 percent, adrenaline by 70 percent and dopamine catabolite which produces adrenaline by 38 percent.

These findings strongly confirm the beneficial effects of laughter and joy on body and brain.


What Can You Do about Anger in Children?

The latest research in brain development and kids anger management can bring solutions to your anger situation at home.

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You can help your child overcome anxiety, worries, and fears.

By ending your child's battle with anxiety, his or her whole life can move quickly in a much more positive direction and change for the better. In the next few minutes, you’re going to learn how you can help your child feel more confident, secure in body and mind, and most of all, be happy again by discovering how to shatter the anxiety, nervousness, and fear that may be holding him or her back.

Check out the Anxiety-Free Child Program.

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