Which Is Best? Medication Or Therapy For Anger Disorders | BetterHelp (2023)

Nearly everyone gets angry sometimes, and occasional feelings of anger can be a normal part of life. However, if you or someone you know has frequent angry outbursts, this behavior might be a symptom of underlying mental health disorders.

Inappropriate anger can be a common psychological issue, and multiple effective treatment options may be available, including therapy and various types of medication for anger. Online therapy with mental health professionals may also be an accessible way to get the mental health help you deserve.

Learn To Manage Your Anger

Work With A Therapist Online

Mental Health Conditions Linked To Anger

While the fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not currently have a mental illness diagnosis specifically for anger issues, anger can be a symptom of several mental disorders, including the following:

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)

This mental health disorder is usually characterized by repeated and sudden explosive episodes ofaggressive behavior or extreme reactions to situations that can lead to violent behavior. Those with Intermittent Explosive Disorder may feel they lose control during explosive outbursts and are unable to manage anger.

According to research, intermittent explosive disorder may be more common than people once thought, with more than 7% of the U.S. population potentially experiencing this type of anger in their lifetimes. This study revealed that the average age of onset for IED may be 14 years old. The fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders clarifies that IED typically consists of at least three destructive outbursts within 12 months.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

This behavioral disorder is primarily diagnosed in children and is usually characterized by aggressive episodes and frequent defiance toward others.

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is another diagnosis for children who exhibit difficulty following rules and engaging in socially acceptable behavior. Symptoms can include physical violence and inappropriate expressions of anger.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

DMDD is usually a childhood mental disorder, often characterized by frequent, intense outbursts of anger, prolonged tantrums, and mood dysregulation.

Bipolar Disorder

This mental disorder can cause frequent mood swings, racing thoughts, and changes in energy levels, including angry outbursts.

Psychotic Disorders

People with these types of mental illnesses usually have abnormal perceptions and thinking that can cause them to lose their connection to reality. This disorder may also be characterized by hallucinations and delusions that can cause a person to become violent.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders, such as narcissistic, borderline, antisocial, and paranoid personality disorders, can be chronic mental health conditions involving long-term patterns of unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, which can sometimes include an inability to control anger.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

This mental health condition frequently causes physical and psychological hyperactivity, with symptoms such as racing thoughts and a lack of impulse control that can involve inappropriate expressions of anger.

Other Conditions

In addition to these mental health conditions,chronic diseaseslike cancer and chronic pain can contribute to people experiencing angry outbursts. Chronic stress can be another condition that may contribute to a person losing control of their anger.

Anger Management And Domestic Violence

Therapists do not usually recommend anger management therapies for situations involving domestic violence. Edit Sign Anger management therapy typically involves understanding emotions when a person is feeling stressed, tired, depressed, or fearful, and learning how to manage these emotions in healthy ways, rather than perceiving them as an attack or threat that leads to anger.

Anger associated with domestic violence is often related to an imbalance of power in a relationship, gender socialization issues, drug and alcohol abuse, and child abuse. Anger management therapies are generally not successful in stopping domestic violence.

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence or abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Choosing The Right Therapy For Anger Management

Treatments for anger management can differ depending on the person, their situation, and any underlying mental health conditions. In addition, a person may need to seek treatment in more than one way before finding one that works.

According to theAmerican Psychiatric Association, the most promising therapy treatment options for anger management can include the following:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT usually focuses on helping a person identify and change negative thought patterns. One type of CBT therapy frequently used for anger management is stress Inoculation. In this therapy, the person may imagine various anger-provoking incidents and practice productive coping strategies. A mental health professional will guide these types of cognitive restructuring exercises.

Family Therapy

Anger management problems often involve unhealthy family dynamics. Family therapy can help you control anger directed at a spouse, intimate partner, child, or other family. It may also teach ways to resolve interpersonal conflicts without expressing anger.

Psychodynamic Therapy

This talk therapy often uses self-reflection to discover the underlying causes of a person’s emotional distress that may lead to inappropriate expressions of anger. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, and depression are often linked to anger management problems. This form of therapy may treat those issues related to anger management.

Group Therapy

Many therapists use group therapy to help people learn to control their anger. In group therapy sessions, participants can confer their challenges, experiences, and triumphs with other group attendees, who can provide support, encouragement, and understanding.

Residential Treatment Centers

Residential anger management treatment centers are usually places for people with severe, debilitating problems with anger. This type of treatment can enable participants to temporarily escape daily life, reducing the triggers that may lead to angry outbursts. By providing support groups, residential anger management treatment centers can also help people with psychiatric disorders feel less isolated in their diagnosis. At the same time, participants can gain control over their symptoms through psychotherapy relaxation training, and medication.

Medications For Anger Management

In addition to therapy, support groups, and in-patient treatment centers, doctors and psychiatrists can also prescribe medications to treat anger disorders, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications can include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti-seizure medications, antipsychotics, and other drugs as prescribed by a psychiatrist.

Medications often come with the risk of side effects and possible reliance. Therefore, taking medications as prescribed and communicating with your medical provider about any concerns or side effects can be crucial. Doctors often do routine health checks to monitor patients’ reactions to medications closely. Always consult your doctor before starting or stopping medicines for anger or other conditions.

Learn To Manage Your Anger

Work With A Therapist Online

Internet-Based Therapy For Anger Management

Online therapy platforms can connect you with licensed professional therapists who may specialize in helping people with anger management.

Recent research has determined that cognitive-behavioral talk therapies delivered via the internet can effectively treat anger management issues. In addition, this study noted that often, people who experience uncontrollable anger feel ashamed about their condition. Connecting with a therapist online is an exceptionally comfortable way for them to receive help.


Inappropriate anger can have various causes, including an underlying mental health condition, excessive stress, and physical health problems. In addition, anger management problems are generally distinct from domestic violence, and therapists do not usually recommend anger management therapies for domestic violence situations*. For anger management issues not involving domestic violence, individual psychotherapy, group therapy, residential treatment programs, and medication can all be helpful, and which one is best can depend on the individual involved. However, research shows that online therapy can be particularly beneficial for treating anger control issues.

* If you are experiencing domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 800 799-SAFE (7233.)

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is there a mental disorder for anger?

Anger itself is not usually considered to be a mental disorder. However, there are mental health conditions that can have anger or irritability as potential symptoms. These can include Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and others.

How do you treat anger issues?

To treat anger issues, a person will typically need to start by finding the root cause of their anger and addressing it. Often, various types of therapy and medication may be used to alleviate symptoms of anger.

What is extreme anger a symptom of?

Extreme anger can be a symptom of a mental health condition such as intermittent explosive disorder. Many other mental health conditions can have anger as a symptom as well. For instance, people who experience depression can feel irritable at times. Another mental health condition that could cause anger is PTSD. Those who have bipolar disorder may also experience anger. There may be many other examples of mental health conditions that include anger as a symptom as well.

What is the best medication?

The best medication for those experiencing anger issues generally depends on the individual. Never start or stop taking medication unless under the guidance of a medical professional.

Why am I so easily angered?

There may be several reasons why you are easily angered. For instance, people living with chronic pain can grow irritable. People with intermittent explosive disorder, borderline personality disorder, or other mental health problems may also experience anger. But something as simple as being canceled on for dinner can cause someone to grow angry as well. It can be important to remember that feeling angry from time to time can be normal. However, when this anger becomes uncontrollable or out-of-proportion, it can become a major problem in your life.

What environmental factors can trigger extreme anger in people?

Environmental factors such as physical discomfort, poor communication, and overstimulation can trigger extreme anger. How a person was raised or taught to manage their emotions can also contribute to their inability to properly manage their anger.

What medications are used to treat intermittent explosive disorder?

Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), mood stabilizers, antipsychotic drugs, and antianxiety drugs can be used to treat intermittent explosive disorder. While there may be no specific medication designed to treat IED at the time, other medications can be prescribed to help patients manage their symptoms. Never start or stop taking medication unless under the guidance of a medical professional.

What category does the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) place IED in according to the American Psychiatric Association?

According to the American Psychiatric Association and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IED falls under the category of “Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders.”

How can I instantly reduce anger?

Practicing deep-breathing exercises or repeating a calming mantra may help you reduce your anger.

How do you release repressed anger?

Learning techniques such as keeping your mind in the present, engaging in positive self-talk, and releasing anger through a healthy fitness regime can help you release your repressed anger.

Are temper tantrums only prevalent in children?

Adults, as well as children, can experience temper tantrums.

What happens if I don’t seek treatment for my anger?

There can be several risk factors associated with unmanaged anger. People with anger issues may develop high blood pressure and other symptoms. Untreated anger may also damage personal relationships.

Are there support groups available for people with IEDs?

People experiencing problems with anger may join anger management support groups.

Does anger play a role in situations involving domestic violence?

Anger and domestic violence often have a complicated relationship. Domestic violence doesn’t usually result from one partner’s inability to control their anger. Instead, anger is often used to manipulate or exert control over another. Because anger management programs usually focus on anger that stems from external factors or misaligned emotions, they are usually not appropriate for treating someone who has engaged in domestic violence.

What meds help with anger outbursts?

Can you control your anger without medication?

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kerri Lueilwitz

Last Updated: 03/20/2023

Views: 5799

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kerri Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1992-10-31

Address: Suite 878 3699 Chantelle Roads, Colebury, NC 68599

Phone: +6111989609516

Job: Chief Farming Manager

Hobby: Mycology, Stone skipping, Dowsing, Whittling, Taxidermy, Sand art, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Kerri Lueilwitz, I am a courageous, gentle, quaint, thankful, outstanding, brave, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.