Anger is a particularly powerful emotion that can be expressed in many ways. Mental health professionals have identified more than a dozen different types of anger people may experience. If you’re having a hard time understanding why you’re so angry, you’re not alone. A recent poll reports that a staggering 84% of Americans believe we’re angrier today than were a generation ago.
Knowing which type of anger you’re experiencing can help you learn ways to manage and properly express the emotion, without risking damage to your health and your relationships.
Read on to learn more about the various types of anger, and to see what you can do to control each one.
1. Assertive Anger
Assertive anger, considered to be a constructive type of anger, can be beneficial in that it might spur people on to make positive changes in their lives. This is the anger that expresses itself with phrases like “It makes me angry when…” instead of throwing tantrums, yelling, or resorting to physical violence.
Tip to manage it: This is the only constructive type of anger on our list. Keep doing what you’re doing, expressing your anger in a non-confrontational, healthy way.
2. Behavioral Anger
Behavioral anger is anger that jumps the boundary of emotional to physical. This type of anger is impulsive and can result in someone hitting a wall, throwing something, or worse, striking another person.
Tip to manage it: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be very effective in helping people who suffer from behavioral anger. A therapist can help you learn new skills to manage your anger impulses. In addition, being able to recognize the signs of an impending outburst can help you avoid losing control in the future.
3. Chronic Anger
Chronic anger, as the name implies, is low-level anger that runs continuously under the surface of a person’s other emotions. It can manifest itself in the forms of frustration, resentment, or irritability.
“Chronic anger can have an effect on our physical health. Stress, as we know, can lower our immune system which makes us vulnerable to illness. Chronic anger would put tremendous pressure on our bodies and can set us up for chronic diseases. It’s important to get the help that you need by engaging in therapy.”
Tip to manage it: Since chronic anger has deep roots, psychotherapy is recommended to manage this type of anger. Positive journaling for mental health and meditation can also be useful strategies you might want to try.
4. Destructive Anger
Destructive anger can be described as a beefed-up version of behavioral anger. It’s an extremely dangerous type because, in addition to being potentially violent, destructive anger expresses itself as intense hatred, even in cases where it may not be warranted.
“Destructive anger could turn into violent behavior toward another person or group. This anger can fuel behaviors that are dangerous and should not be ignored or minimized. Therapy can help address this type of anger.”
Tip to manage it: This is another one of the several types of anger issues where you can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. You can also focus on learning strategies to identify triggers and signs of impending outbursts.
5. Moral/Judgmental Anger
Moral or judgmental anger is sometimes also called righteous anger. This kind of anger stems from a real or perceived injustice against you or someone else. It can also be a moral flaw that’s observed in another person. While someone who experiences this type of anger may believe they’re justified in feeling as they do, this type of anger can also be isolating.
Tip to manage it: Moral/judgmental anger is difficult to recognize in yourself. Being honest about the root of your emotions can help. While this type of anger isn’t as destructive as many of the other types of anger disorders, it can be alienating to those around you.
6. Overwhelmed Anger
This type of anger is something that builds up over time when a person doesn’t have a way to express themselves when anger hits them. Overwhelmed anger can be very detrimental to a person’s mental health and can cause them to suddenly explode in anger when the burden becomes too great.
Tip to manage it: One of the best ways to manage this type of anger is to take good care of yourself. You’re less likely to feel overwhelmed when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet. In addition, give yourself permission to not be perfect. None of us are. This will relieve some of the pressure you might be experiencing. Learning your anger triggers and managing your exposure to them can also help with this type of anger.
7. Passive Aggressive Anger
Passive aggressive anger is an avoidant type of anger. People with this type of anger show their emotions in ways other than confrontation, such as sarcasm, an intentional lack of response, or passive-aggressive comments.
Tip to manage it: Manage your passive-aggressive anger by exploring your fear of confrontation and working to improve your communication skills.
8. Retaliatory Anger
This form of anger involves lashing out and wanting to hurt the person who hurt you, whether that hurt is real or perceived. The retaliation can be verbal, emotional, or physical. While retaliating may seem fair in your own mind and make you feel better initially, it’s almost always detrimental to any relationship.
Tip to manage it: The best way to navigate retaliatory anger is to train yourself to stop and think before you act. That might mean imposing a “wait 24 hours” rule before you send that angry email or confront a family member who wronged or upset you.
9. Self Abusive Anger
Self abusive anger is usually associated with shame and negative thoughts. People who experience this type of anger might internalize what they’re feeling and take it out in ways that are harmful to themselves, such as drug or alcohol abuse, unhealthy eating (or not eating), or negative self-talk.
Tip to manage it: Anger therapy, like cognitive behavior therapy, is recommended to combat self-abusive anger. Other helpful coping strategies you can try include practicing meditation and reciting positive affirmations to get rid of negative thought patterns.
10. Silent Anger
People who experience silent anger tend to keep things that upset them inside. They don’t often express their emotions when they first feel them. These are the people who scowl at you in the grocery line or the partner who gives you the “side eye” over dinner. This is a classic “if you don’t know what you did, I’m not going to tell you” type of anger.
Tip to manage it: Silent anger is similar to passive-aggressive anger in that it doesn’t express itself directly. As with that type of anger, improving your communication skills and increasing your self-awareness will help you learn to manage your silent anger.
11. Verbal Anger
Verbal anger, as the name suggests, is anger that erupts in verbal exchange and usually involves yelling, sarcasm, and/or criticism. One of the most common types of anger disorders, this type of anger can be abusive and damage a person’s relationships if it continues to go unchecked.
Tip to manage it: Manage this verbal anger by teaching yourself to take a breath (and then another one) before responding to someone who has made you angry. Learn to respond using assertive anger techniques (see point #1).
12. Volatile Anger
People who experience volatile anger fly into a violent rage with little to no warning. These outbursts can be triggered by small annoyances or larger frustrations. This anger can manifest itself in the throwing of objects, yelling, shouting, and/or physical aggression.
Tip to manage it: Control your volatile anger by journaling and writing down what you’re angry about. It’s also useful to work to identify any physical signs that a volatile outburst is imminent and learn how to release anger effectively just in case.
13. Deliberate Anger
Deliberate anger is highly-targeted and designed to hurt the person who has hurt you. While it may be instinctive, this type of anger is rarely constructive and can do severe damage to relationships.
Tip to manage it: As with retaliatory anger, it’s wise to wait a while to let this anger diffuse before acting. You can use a journal to vent your anger without directing it at another person.
14. Addictive/Habitual Anger
This type of anger is related to the adrenaline/dopamine “high” that some people experience when they’re extremely angry. You can actually become addicted to this feeling and consciously or subconsciously seek out situations that are likely to cause you to become enraged.
Tip to manage it: Recognizing this addictive behavior is the first step to managing addictive/habitual anger. It may take an intervention from a friend or family member to get you to realize the destructive cycle in which you’re living. In some cases, anger management courses and medication may be required.
Understanding & Working Through Your Anger
Anger of any type, left unresolved, can be damaging to both your own mental health and your relationships, especially when it develops into displaced anger. Left to fester, anger can also lead to chronic health problems. Working with a therapist can help you identify what type or types of anger disorders you’re feeling, what causes anger, and teach you skills for managing anger.
If you are looking for help identifying or managing feelings of anger, you might want to consider therapy if the above self-administered tips aren’t proving effective. Online therapy can be an easy way to start talking to someone. Talkspace is an online therapy platform that makes therapy convenient, accessible, and affordable. With a Talkspace therapist, you can learn effective techniques to overcome any of your anger issues.
1. Hensley S. Poll: Americans Say We’re Angrier Than A Generation Ago. Npr.org. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/06/26/735757156/poll-americans-say-were-angrier-than-a-generation-ago Published 2019. Accessed July 3, 2022.