Anxiety and anger are rarely associated with each other, as they seem to be opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. The DSM 5 criteria for diagnosing generalized anxiety disorders require the suspected individual to have excessive worry about various life events daily for more than six months, find it difficult to control the anxiety, and have three symptoms among the following; restlessness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep problems (Kupfer, 2022). Further, the criterion requires anxiety to significantly impair the individual’s functioning. Anxiety should not come from the effects of a substance or medical condition and should not only occur during a mood disorder. However, researchers have realized that individuals with anxiety may experience anger when their anxiety is severe and long-lasting, leading to increased frustration and irritability that may cause one to lose the ability to ignore various emotional triggers related to anxiety (Cassiello-Robbins & Barlow, 2016). In such a case, the individual lashes out, entering a period of rage where they let out all the repressed anxiety-related emotions when their fight response is activated instead of flight response, in reaction to a constant anxiety trigger.
A long time ago, in my grade school years, I seriously assaulted a male classmate to the point where the individual had to be hospitalized for a few days. The person finally came out of the hospital with a few lost teeth, a broken arm, and a broken nose. On the other hand, I got a suspension, while my parents had to cater for the medical costs of the injured student. Regardless to say, it was a shameful and impactful period of my life. However, I can still recall the trail of events that led to the fight, which have ultimately helped change my life around for the better. The assaulted student was a part of a group that constantly bullied other students in the school, especially those who seemed weak and helpless. I was part of these seemingly-weak students, as I had few social skills and thus appeared meek since I often opted to stay away from the crowd and keep to myself.
Hence, I was a constant target for this group, where I would get constantly bullied for no reason at all. Since we lived in the same area, we went to the same school for years. My family was financially depleted; thus, I had few alternate schooling options, meaning I had to cope with the bullying for numerous years. While I tried to keep away from the bullies for some time, the bullying continued and increased, leading to frustration as the school administration did little to reduce these events. The frustration and anxiety led to lower performance in school, reduced concentration, self-esteem, insomnia, restlessness, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression. Finally, the frustration was too much, and one day when one of the bullies tried attacking me, I lashed out and attacked them horrifically, leading to their hospitalization.
After I had served my suspension, I started seeing a psychologist who has helped me over the years in dealing with my anxiety. I have found that frequent exercising and playing competitive sports helps keep my mind away from my anxiety and helps me focus on the positive things in life. Studying psychology has helped me utilize some of the concepts in cognitive behavioral therapy, where I challenge my anxiety triggers through exposure therapy to reduce my anxiety towards these triggers. CBT helps me recognize the trail of thought patterns that lead to my anxiety, enabling me to modify these thoughts and world schemas, allowing me to picture a more positive world that reduces my anxiety (de Hullu et al., 2017). Additionally, I often relax through meditation and breathing techniques to relieve my body and mind of the potential frustrations I might have, enabling me to focus on the important things in life and cope with anxiety better (Hofmann & Gómez, 2017). Further, I only eat a healthy diet, drink water, and always have a good sleep to allow my body and mind to function optimally.
Cassiello-Robbins, C., & Barlow, D. H. (2016). Anger: The unrecognized emotion in emotional disorders. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 23(1), 66.
de Hullu, E., Sportel, B. E., Nauta, M. H., & de Jong, P. J. (2017). Cognitive bias modification and CBT as early interventions for adolescent social and test anxiety: Two-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 55, 81-89.
Hofmann, S. G., & Gómez, A. F. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety and depression. Psychiatric Clinics, 40(4), 739-749.
Kupfer, D. J. (2022). Anxiety and DSM-5. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience.