What Is Suppressed Anger? (2023)

Everyone gets angry occasionally. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anger is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. Anger can range from faint annoyance to outright rage.

Anger can be triggered by people, events, objects, situations, feelings, or memories. For example, a traffic jam, a pushy coworker, a broken zipper, or the memory of a rude comment can make you angry.

People react to anger in different ways. Some people express their anger verbally (shouting, cursing, arguing, or yelling), whereas others express it physically (throwing things, breaking objects, hitting walls, or getting into fights). However, some people don’t express their anger at all, and choose to suppress it instead.

Suppressed Anger

Suppressed anger is when you experience anger but do not express it—in either constructive or destructive ways, says David Klemanski, PsyD, MPH, a psychologist at Yale Medicine.

This article explores the characteristics and impact of suppressed anger, as well as some coping strategies that might be helpful.

Manifestations of Suppressed Anger

While there is no specific set of symptoms or characteristics of suppressed anger, there are some of the potential ways it could manifest, according to Dr. Klemanski:

  • Substitute emotions: Some people might substitute other emotions for anger. For instance, they might feel sad, depressed, anxious, guilty, or ashamed, rather than feeling angry.
  • Numbness: Some people may deny their emotions to the extent that they may feel numb or shut down entirely.
  • Passive aggression: Some people seek to avoid experiencing anger in order to avoid conflict. However, they may employ passive-aggressive behaviors instead. For instance, they may often pass sarcastic or snide comments, appear perpetually hostile and cynical, criticize everything, put others down constantly, or try to get back at people in indirect ways without telling them why they’re upset.
  • Outbursts: After suppressing their anger for too long, some people eventually explode and have a major outburst of anger.

What to Do If You Feel Angry

Impact of Suppressed Anger

Suppressing emotions can be harmful to physical and mental health. Below, Dr. Klemanski explains the impact of suppressing anger.

It Puts the Body in a State of Stress

On a physical level, suppressing emotions, anger included, can lead to physical stress on the body.

Anger is a biological response to perceived threats, so your body goes into a hyper alert state that is designed to help you survive. In this state, your blood pressure and heart rate increase and your body releases certain hormones, which give you a burst of energy.

Frequently bottling up anger can put the body in a prolonged state of stress that can lead to health issues such as hypertension.

It Affects Emotional Processing

All of our emotions are messages to us. Each time we overlook an emotion, we lose the opportunity to reflect, learn from it, and develop insights into our priorities and values.

(Video) 5 SIGNS You Have Repressed Anger

Ignoring or suppressing emotions can create issues whereby people don't adequately learn how to express themselves in critical moments or when emotions are experienced with greater intensity than usual.

Suppressing anger can prevent people from appropriately regulating, processing, and expressing their emotions.

It Can Lead to Mental Health Conditions

Anger can be a particularly intense negative emotion that might come from feeling disrespected, diminished, shamed, or belittled, or feeling a loss of power or control.

Ignoring anger and the issues that caused it can lead to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or even controlling behaviors related to habits, food, substances, etc.

It Can Damage Relationships

Suppressed anger can also wreak havoc on your personal relationships. It can cause you to act in ways that might be contrary to your personal values, thereby impacting your boundaries and your ability to be genuine and authentic with others.

According to the APA, people who suppress their anger often have difficulty with relationships.

Coping With Suppressed Anger

If you tend to suppress your anger rather than expressing it in a healthy manner, it may be helpful to see a mental healthcare professional who can help you cope with it. Dr. Klemanski outlines some of the treatment approaches that may be helpful:

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness can be a healthy approach to developing awareness about when you experience an emotion, how intensely you experience it, and how you manage that emotion in the moment. Mindfully observing what triggers your anger and how you characteristically behave when you're angry can help you express your emotions more constructively.
  • Emotional management: Learning emotion management skills can be useful, including educating yourself about your emotions, understanding how emotions show up in your everyday life, and identifying triggers to your emotions. It can also be helpful to learn how to both acknowledge and accept your emotional experiences rather than trying to rid yourself of them, so that you can learn how to manage them when it counts.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Using principles of cognitive behavioral therapy can also be useful, such as learning to replace unhelpful thought patterns with helpful ones, as well as practicing skills and strategies for managing intense emotions when they occur. Research shows that cognitive behavior therapy techniques can effectively treat anger and aggression.
  • Journaling: It can be helpful to maintain a journal where you note down things that made you angry, how they made you feel, and what you did at the time. This can help improve your emotional awareness.

Best Anger Management Programs

(Video) Dr. Gabor Maté on How to Process Anger and Rage | The Tim Ferriss Show

A Word From Verywell

Sometimes we get angry for valid reasons, whereas other times we get angry for trivial reasons. However, regardless of the cause, it’s vital for us to be able to regulate our emotions and express them in healthy ways. While having angry outbursts isn’t the answer, it’s important to learn how to set boundaries and communicate negative emotions constructively.

Suppressing anger can harm our relationships and affect our mental and physical health. If you tend to suppress your anger, it can be helpful to start being more mindful about what causes you to feel angry, how you respond in those situations, and how it affects your life and your relationships. A mental health professional can help you work through some of the anger-related issues you’re facing.

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. American Psychological Association. Understanding anger.

  2. American Psychological Association. Controlling anger before it controls you.

  3. National Library of Medicine. Learn to manage your anger. MedlinePlus.

    (Video) Gabor Maté and Gordon Neufeld - Making Room for Anger

  4. American Psychological Association. How to recognize and deal with anger.

  5. Kim AS, Jang MH, Park KH, Min JY. Effects of self-efficacy, depression, and anger on health-promoting behaviors of Korean elderly women with hypertension. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(17):6296. doi:10.3390/ijerph17176296

  6. de Bles NJ, Rius Ottenheim N, van Hemert AM, et al. Trait anger and anger attacks in relation to depressive and anxiety disorders. J Affect Disord. 2019;259:259-265. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2019.08.023

  7. Lee AH, DiGiuseppe R. Anger and aggression treatments: A review of meta-analyses. Curr Opin Psychol. 2018;19:65-74. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.04.004

What Is Suppressed Anger? (1)

By Sanjana Gupta
Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

Was this page helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

What is your feedback?

Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management

×

The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.

(Video) Gabor Maté: How Repressed Anger Affects Your Health

FAQs

What does suppressed anger mean? ›

Anger suppression refers to the frequency with which angry feelings are experienced but not expressed (Spielberger, 1999).

Is suppressing anger healthy? ›

A 2021 study conducted in Italy during the first wave of lockdowns showed that when we regulate or ignore our emotions, we can experience short-term mental and physical reactions as well. “Suppressing your emotions, whether it's anger, sadness, grief or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body.

What are the 3 types of anger? ›

There are three types of anger which help shape how we react in a situation that makes us angry. These are: Passive Aggression, Open Aggression, and Assertive Anger.

How do I know if I'm suppressing anger? ›

Feeling bitter, envious or resentful of others. Ignoring things that bother or upset you rather than addressing them. Holding grudges and ruminating on things that upset you. Feeling guilty, ashamed or bad when you are angry.

What causes suppressed anger? ›

You hate rejection. The habit of repressing anger often stems from growing up in a household where showing emotion led to being silently ostracised. This can leave you a grownup with a deep fear of being rejected that surfaces in your relationships.

Where does repressed anger go? ›

Psychoanalysts have long known that when anger is repressed and turned inward, it turns into depression. People who have this tendency find themselves feeling sad and down about everything when actually they are angry about something specific.

Does suppressing anger make it worse? ›

Suppression cannot decrease anger, and rumination worsens anger (50).

Where is repressed anger stored in the body? ›

When we chronically repress emotions, we create toxicity in our body, mind, and heart. This unprocessed emotional energy is stored in our organs, muscles, and tissues. It leads to inflammation and chronic health problems, and it undermines our overall well-being.

How do I know if I'm suppressing emotions? ›

How do I know if I have repressed emotions?
  • regularly feel numb or blank.
  • feel nervous, low, or stressed a lot of the time, even if you aren't sure why.
  • have a tendency to forget things.
  • experience unease or discomfort when other people tell you about their feelings.
31 Mar 2020

What is the difference between repressed and suppressed anger? ›

Repression is often confused with suppression, another type of defense mechanism. Where repression involves unconsciously blocking unwanted thoughts or impulses, suppression is entirely voluntary. Specifically, suppression is deliberately trying to forget or not think about painful or unwanted thoughts.

Where is guilt stored in the body? ›

Body and Mind

The positive emotions of gratefulness and togetherness and the negative emotions of guilt and despair all looked remarkably similar, with feelings mapped primarily in the heart, followed by the head and stomach.

What does silent anger look like? ›

Silent Anger

Although you may not verbally express it, it is possible for others to read that you are angry. People who experience silent anger tend to keep these feelings inside and allow them to build up, which can lead to increased stress, tension, and behavior related to overwhelmed anger.

What's the highest form of anger? ›

Enraged. This is the stage when you feel completely out of control. You may exhibit destructive behavior when your anger reaches this point, such lashing out physically, excessive swearing, or threatening violence.

What personality type is anger? ›

The ISFP. These types tend to have varying responses to anger. According to the MBTI® Manual, they are the type most likely to get angry and show it, as well as the type most likely to get angry and not show it. This goes to show that no two people of the same type are exactly alike.

What does repressed anger look like? ›

As they divert their anger towards themselves, they often suffer from depression, anxiety, and somatisation (emotions turning into bodily pain or physical ailments). People with repressed anger may find that they rarely feel angry, but experience chronic lethargy and numbness.

What does healthy anger look like? ›

Healthy anger means observing and experiencing anger without being overwhelmed by it and reacting to it. Healthy anger means recognizing our anger as a signal to explore the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations that precede it.

What emotions does anger hide? ›

The feelings that anger commonly masks include fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, embarrassment, betrayal, jealousy, sadness, hurt, and worry. When you feel angry, take a second to stop and ask yourself if you feel any of these emotions that may be causing your anger.

Why do I cry when im mad? ›

When you get mad, your body produces a flood of hormones that stimulate strong reactions in your body — everything from a racing heart to sweaty palms to short-term memory loss. In response to the elevated stress level, you may cry.

What happens if you hold your anger too much? ›

Studies have linked anger to loneliness, chronic anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleep disorders, obsessive-compulsive behavior and phobias.

Is anxiety repressed anger? ›

And a study from Concordia University shows that for millions of sufferers of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), anger is more than an emotion; it's a conduit that intensifies anxiety. Specifically, when the anger is internalized rather than expressed—think seething inside without showing it.

What happens if you don't release your anger? ›

Constantly bottling up our frustration can lead to physical and emotional reactions, including like high blood pressure and anxiety. The good news is that you can learn to manage and channel your anger constructively.

Which organ is responsible for anger? ›

Amygdala. The amygdala helps coordinate responses to things in your environment, especially those that trigger an emotional response. This structure plays an important role in fear and anger.

What organ gets affected by anger? ›

The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. The brain shunts blood away from the gut and towards the muscles, in preparation for physical exertion. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increase, the body temperature rises and the skin perspires.

How do you know you are traumatized? ›

Intrusive memories

Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event. Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks) Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event. Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event.

What do you call a person who hides their pain behind a smile? ›

This condition in psychological terms is rarely known, it is called an eccedentsiast. Eccedentsiast means those who hide behind a smile to convince others that they are happy. Also known as smiling depression which is a type of depression that is often not detected.

Can suppressing emotions cause brain damage? ›

According to a study out of Stanford University, when we hold back our emotions we are doing a lot of damage to our brains and our health, and the effects can be long-lasting. Addicts and those affected with depression and other mental disorders commonly suppress feelings and emotions.

What happens when you don't talk about your feelings? ›

Pretending you don't have certain feelings might help you avoid expressing them publicly , but it doesn't make them go away. In fact, holding back your emotions can actually intensify them. A classic example of this involves anger. Many people believe it's better to tamp down anger than express it.

What is a suppressed personality? ›

Repression usually refers to the tendency to avoid uncomfortable feelings. You unconsciously push painful feelings, thoughts, or memories out of your consciousness. This lets you forget them. You may do this for fear of damaging your positive self-image.

What is an example of suppression? ›

He struggled to suppress his feelings of jealousy. She could not suppress her anger. I had to suppress an urge to tell him what I really thought.

What happens if you bottle up your emotions for too long? ›

Bottling up negative emotions like anxiety and anger can disrupt the normal function of your stress hormones called cortisol. This results in lowered immune function and an increased risk of developing a chronic illness. Not expressing your emotions is also a gateway to developing mental health conditions.

What is toxic shame? ›

Toxic shame is a feeling that you're worthless. It happens when other people treat you poorly and you turn that treatment into a belief about yourself. You're most vulnerable to this type of poor treatment during childhood or as a teen.

What trauma is stored in the hips? ›

The hips are an important storage vessel of emotional stress because of the psoas' link to the adrenal glands and the location of the sacral chakra.

How do I heal myself mentally? ›

  1. Value yourself: Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. ...
  2. Take care of your body: Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. ...
  3. Surround yourself with good people: ...
  4. Give yourself: ...
  5. Learn how to deal with stress: ...
  6. Quiet your mind: ...
  7. Set realistic goals: ...
  8. Break up the monotony:

Why do people go silent when mad? ›

Sometimes, a person may give someone the silent treatment because they are too angry, hurt, or overwhelmed to speak. They may be afraid of saying something that makes the situation worse. In these cases, it can be helpful for each person to take some time to cool off before getting together to discuss the issue calmly.

How can you tell if someone is secretly angry? ›

8 Signs Someone is Secretly Angry With You
  1. They send you mixed signals. ...
  2. They try to outdo you. ...
  3. They're overly critical of you. ...
  4. They act more defiant. ...
  5. They subtly try to pick fights. ...
  6. They seem more irritable. ...
  7. They spend less time with you. ...
  8. They're unusually quiet around you.
2 Apr 2020

What are 3 signs of an anger problem? ›

You may be experiencing issues with anger management if you:
  • Are hurting others either verbally or physically.
  • Always find yourself feeling angry.
  • Feel that your anger is out of control.
  • Frequently regret something you've said or done when angry.
  • Notice that small or petty things make you angry.
23 Nov 2020

What are the 4 root causes of anger? ›

People often express their anger in different ways, but they usually share four common triggers. We organize them into buckets: frustrations, irritations, abuse, and unfairness.

What does God say about anger? ›

"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil." "But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." "Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly."

Why do I get so angry so easily? ›

Factors such as your personality, your coping style, your relationships, and your stress levels can all play a part in determining how much anger you experience in response to different situations and triggers. Some things that can trigger anger include: Conflicts in relationships. Family problems.

Do introverts get angry easily? ›

Angry Introverts are in a sensitive state, and they can easily become overstimulated by too much social contact. Interestingly, Introverts won't usually respond to their anger by leaving altogether.

What type of mental illness is anger? ›

Abstract. Anger is present as a key criterion in five diagnoses within DSM-5: Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder.

What personality type gives the silent treatment? ›

INTPs do sometimes give the silent treatment as a way to express what they are feeling. They aren't naturally good at expressing themselves or their emotions, and so they do sometimes give the silent treatment. Taking time to themselves to really process things and be on their own is often important for INTPs.

› topics › anger › recognize ›

Anger is a negative feeling state that is typically associated with hostile thoughts, physiological arousal, and maladaptive behaviors.
Anger is an intense emotion you feel when something has gone wrong or someone has wronged you. It is typically characterized by feelings of stress, frustration,...
Assertive anger is a really constructive type of anger expression. If this is your type of anger, you use feelings of frustration or rage as a catalyst for posi...

What is the difference between repressed and suppressed anger? ›

Repression is often confused with suppression, another type of defense mechanism. Where repression involves unconsciously blocking unwanted thoughts or impulses, suppression is entirely voluntary. Specifically, suppression is deliberately trying to forget or not think about painful or unwanted thoughts.

What does suppressed emotion mean? ›

Repression usually refers to the tendency to avoid uncomfortable feelings. You unconsciously push painful feelings, thoughts, or memories out of your consciousness. This lets you forget them. You may do this for fear of damaging your positive self-image. These are unprocessed emotions.

Does suppressing anger make it worse? ›

Suppression cannot decrease anger, and rumination worsens anger (50).

What happens when emotions are suppressed? ›

Suppressed emotions stay in the body. The effects of suppressed emotions include anxiety, depression, and other stress-related illnesses. Such suppression can lead to alcohol and substance abuse. (Read more about the link between childhood trauma and addiction here.)

What does healthy anger look like? ›

Healthy anger means observing and experiencing anger without being overwhelmed by it and reacting to it. Healthy anger means recognizing our anger as a signal to explore the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations that precede it.

Where is guilt stored in the body? ›

Body and Mind

The positive emotions of gratefulness and togetherness and the negative emotions of guilt and despair all looked remarkably similar, with feelings mapped primarily in the heart, followed by the head and stomach.

How can you tell if someone is suppressing emotions? ›

Some signs of repressed emotions are:
  1. Nervousness.
  2. Feeling numb.
  3. Becoming annoyed or stressed when others ask about your feelings.
  4. Forgetfulness.
  5. Having a sense of calm because you don't let yourself dwell on any thoughts for any length of time.
  6. Stress without cause.
8 Apr 2022

What does suppressed emotions look like? ›

General signs you are emotionally repressed

You will find that youL: feel uncomfortable around highly emotional people. secretly think anger and sadness are 'bad' rarely if ever cry or yell.

What is an example of suppression? ›

He struggled to suppress his feelings of jealousy. She could not suppress her anger. I had to suppress an urge to tell him what I really thought.

What happens if you hold your anger too much? ›

Studies have linked anger to loneliness, chronic anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleep disorders, obsessive-compulsive behavior and phobias.

Is anxiety repressed anger? ›

And a study from Concordia University shows that for millions of sufferers of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), anger is more than an emotion; it's a conduit that intensifies anxiety. Specifically, when the anger is internalized rather than expressed—think seething inside without showing it.

What happens if you don't release your anger? ›

Constantly bottling up our frustration can lead to physical and emotional reactions, including like high blood pressure and anxiety. The good news is that you can learn to manage and channel your anger constructively.

Can suppressing emotions cause brain damage? ›

According to a study out of Stanford University, when we hold back our emotions we are doing a lot of damage to our brains and our health, and the effects can be long-lasting. Addicts and those affected with depression and other mental disorders commonly suppress feelings and emotions.

What do you call a person who hides their pain behind a smile? ›

This condition in psychological terms is rarely known, it is called an eccedentsiast. Eccedentsiast means those who hide behind a smile to convince others that they are happy. Also known as smiling depression which is a type of depression that is often not detected.

What are the effects of suppression? ›

Suppression also has negative social consequences, such as reducing access to social support resources, lowering “social satisfaction,” and harming relationships (Amirkhan et al., 1995; Srivastava et al., 2009; Von Dras and Siegler, 1997).

Videos

1. Is Suppressing Anger Bad for You? | Anger Management
(Howcast)
2. The Purpose of Pain—Using Rage to Heal | Misti Burmeister | TEDxUMD
(TEDx Talks)
3. Repressed anger.
(Frank James)
4. How to Release Emotions Trapped in Your Body 10/30 How to Process Emotions Like Trauma and Anxiety
(Therapy in a Nutshell)
5. Ask a UT Psychologist (Suppressing Emotions and Aggression) -- Art Markman
(The University of Texas at Austin)
6. Anger and Complex Trauma - Part 10/11 - Unresolved Anger
(Tim Fletcher)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Moshe Kshlerin

Last Updated: 11/29/2022

Views: 5911

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Moshe Kshlerin

Birthday: 1994-01-25

Address: Suite 609 315 Lupita Unions, Ronnieburgh, MI 62697

Phone: +2424755286529

Job: District Education Designer

Hobby: Yoga, Gunsmithing, Singing, 3D printing, Nordic skating, Soapmaking, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Moshe Kshlerin, I am a gleaming, attractive, outstanding, pleasant, delightful, outstanding, famous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.