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How Anger Can Affect Your Health
Both anger and stress trigger the release of stress hormones into the body, particularly the hormone cortisol. Anger can cause the heart rate to race up to 180 beats per minute and the blood pressure to rise to rates as high as 220 over 130. It also diverts resources from the immune system which can result in slower healing of wounds and in many individuals it can slow metabolism, impede circulation, trigger depression and even result in eating binges.
Cortisol “the Anger Hormone” can Affect Weight
Cortisol is a hormone which is released as a response to anger and stress. In women, prolonged release of cortisol can result in weight gain around the belly and waist. In addition, it can cause an imbalance in blood sugar, decrease bone density and negatively impact the immune system making the body susceptible to chronic inflammation. Cortisol can also depress thyroid function and metabolism.
In addition to releasing cortisol in response to anger, the body also releases chemicals which cause the blood to clot. Clots can break free and travel through the blood stream to the brain or heart causing a stroke or heart attack. Heightened blood pressure can cause arteries to burst or rupture and if this occurs in the brain, a stroke results. Ruptured arteries in other areas of the body can also result in sudden death.
Anger and the Brain
Anger responses in the brain can result in the shrinkage of neurons and disruption of the connections between neurons. It is also linked to the mental illness, depression. The ability of the brain to produce new neurons is inhibited and prolonged anger or stress responses can result in memory impairment and learning disabilities. It is believed that anger disrupts the neural signals between the heart and brain resulting in arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and sudden death.
Skin Rashes and Acne
People with prolonged anger responses often have skin problems which may include eczema, acne, warts, rashes and hives. While these skin problems can also appear in individuals without anger issues, studies have shown that resolving anger responses dramatically improves these conditions in many people. Since anger also negatively impacts the immune system, skin lesions like blisters take much longer to heal in people who have stress and anger management issues.
Prolonged exposure to the hormones and chemicals released by anger responses can create a wide variety of digestive disorders including ulcers, acid reflux, intestinal cramping, constipation, diarrhea and hiccups. There is also an association between anger response chemicals and kidney disease. In addition to digestive disorders, people with chronic anger problems may also suffer from insomnia, eating disorders, addictive behavior and problems in interpersonal relationships.
It is important to resolve anger issues and avoid prolonged anger responses to maintain good health. Recent studies have shown that in addition to exercise and meditation, laughter quickly counteracts anger responses and promotes physical and mental health. In a clinical study, patients showed positive responses in anticipation of viewing a funny video.