Families and Caregivers – Anger Management

Everyone experiences feelings of anger at some time. It can be anything from mild annoyance to full-blown rage. When a person's anger becomes too intense or too frequent, or is expressed in hurtful or overly aggressive ways, anger has become a problem. For some service members and Family members, the stresses associated with military life, such as the emotional toll of repeated deployments, can make anger more of a problem in their lives. Anger is more likely to result when problems aren't properly addressed and stress piles up. Honest self-inspection can help determine whether you or your Soldier are holding onto and building up angry feelings and how these feelings are eventually released.

Reasons for out-of-control anger may include one having trouble expressing him or herself or being exposed to traumatic events or high levels of stress.

For help finding anger management programs in your local community, contact the Army Community Service (ACS), Soldier and Family Assistance Center (SFAC), or call Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647.

Out-of-control anger can be a destructive force that leaves lasting scars on Family members and partners, alienates friends and coworkers, damages careers and leads to physical and emotional illnesses. Anger is out of control when it simmers nearly all the time and frequently boils over in explosive rage. Out-of-control anger puts a person at serious risk for destructive behavior toward others, him or herself, animals or property and can be very frightening. It may be a sign that a person is unsuccessfully dealing with personal issues much deeper than the event that set off an outburst of rage – this can be a very real problem for service members returning from deployment in a war zone; therefore it is important to know how to control and manage anger.

Learn and Practice Anger Management Techniques

It's easy to find books, articles and websites devoted to tips and techniques for managing anger. Some common anger management techniques include:

  • Relaxation Tools – use deep breathing and relaxing imagery to help calm down angry feelings.
  • Take a timeout. There’s nothing wrong with stopping to count to 10 or say a prayer to calm yourself.
  • Take a break by going for a walk or listening to music. If you're involved in a conflict with another person, be sure to make it clear that you'll return after you calm down.

Take an Anger Management Class

Anger management courses and groups can help you learn and practice anger management skills with others who have similar stories to tell. They also provide the opportunity to get feedback from an anger management specialist. These anger management classes are often open to Soldiers as well as Family Members and are widely available on military installations and in civilian communities. For help identifying an anger management class, contact the Army Community Service (ACS) or the Soldier and Family Assistance Centers (SFAC). You can also call Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 for help finding anger management programs in your local community.

Work with a Counselor

Soldiers can find help managing their anger through their Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Cadre, nurse case manager or social worker, as well as their unit chaplain. Family members may also contact the WTU for guidance or consider contacting their local Military Treatment Facility (MTF) on ways to obtain non-medical counseling. Non-medical counseling may help you learn more about the reasons behind your or your Soldier’s anger, as well as provide helpful techniques in preventing and managing anger. It is designed to address short-term issues such as improving relationships at home and work, stress management, adjustment issues (like, returning from a deployment), marital problems, parenting, and grief or loss issues. You can receive confidential non-medical counseling through Military OneSource (up to 12 no-cost sessions in person, telephonically or online). For additional information, contact Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647.

Anger Management Resources

For additional information on anger management, including understanding and finding ways to control your anger, the following resources can provide additional information:

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any healthy ways to express anger?
What are some warning signs that my Soldier or I have an anger problem?
I find that my Soldier is very defensive. Is this a sign that he/she has issues with anger?
At times I feel like I cannot control my anger. What are some anger management techniques?

Are there any healthy ways to express anger?

Yes, the healthiest way to express anger is in a calmly assertive, non-aggressive manner. To be able to do this, you have to know how to describe your feelings to yourself and others and how to make clear what you need from others without being hostile or demanding.

What are some warning signs that my Soldier or I have an anger problem?

Sometimes it’s not easy to know if you have a problem with anger or to recognize in others if they have an anger problem; however, the following signs may indicate that anger is becoming a problem for you or your service member:

  • You or your Soldier often feel angry about something.
  • The intensity of your or your Soldier’s anger is out of proportion to its cause. For example, you get furious if someone cuts you off in traffic, or you come home from a bad day at work and blow up over the slightest thing.
  • Anger lasts longer than it should. People who hold anger in have a hard time getting rid of it, because the feelings are not being addressed.

I find that my Soldier is very defensive. Is this a sign that he/she has issues with anger?

Yes, this can be a possible sign of anger issues.  People who have not learned how to constructively deal with their anger may develop rigid psychological defenses that allow them to express it without acknowledging it, thus avoiding direct confrontation. Passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people in indirect ways while denying anger) is a classic example. Expressing anger indirectly often causes people to come across as cynical, sarcastic, bitter or hyper-critical.

At times I feel like I cannot control my anger. What are some anger management techniques?

There are a number of outlets that can help you deal with anger or your Soldier’s anger as mentioned above. Anger management skills may take some time and practice, but the rewards will be worth it. You'll find that you're better able to get your needs met, achieve your goals and have a more satisfying life.

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