How anger affects the body

If it was nowhere to be found this year, you’re not alone. Public life and personal hardships provided ample fodder for the outbreaks, which, in addition to costing calm, can have a more serious cost: Prolonged and extreme anger can also exacerbate existing health problems, scientists say. , as well as affect the way you react to certain problems.

“During the day and throughout the week and throughout the month, we are activating these systems in moments of frustration, anger or rage that in the short term can help you in an emergency situation,” said Dr. Ilan Shor Wittstein, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. “But in the long run, it could be quite detrimental to how these neurohormonal systems are activated as often as they are in these cases.”

Responses to anger can cause a ripple effect throughout the body: from the cardiovascular system to the nervous system, everything is fair game. These are just a few of the major organ systems it can wreak havoc with.

According to Dr. Wittstein, an expert in stress cardiomyopathy, also known as “broken heart syndrome,” one way to think about the heart is to imagine a house: There may be problems with the pipes, doors, or electrical system, but the house itself may seem well

“Rage can have effects on the arteries that supply blood to the heart, it can have an effect on the electrical system specifically that tells the heart when to beat, and it can have an effect specifically on the heart muscle itself,” he said.

So, if you’re already living with conditions that affect your cardiovascular system like high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, or high cholesterol, moments of extreme anger can leave you more vulnerable to a sudden heart attack.

When you’re full of rage, Dr. Wittstein offered as an example, blood pressure can increase, blood vessels can constrict, inflammatory cells are released by the immune system. All of this can lead to the rupture of the plaque inside the coronary artery.

If this plaque forms a clot, the blood supply to that portion of the heart can be cut off. “And that can cause a heart attack that lands a person in the hospital, or a person can even die from a sudden heart attack,” he said.

In a sense, anger can have a positive physical effect, as it can help motivate you to get up and do something. When we are angry and excited, our brain is primed for quick reactions. If there is a danger or social threat that triggers a state of anger, we are more likely to act on it: the fight or flight response.

One possible trade-off: In this agitated state, we’re less likely to make good judgments, hear certain information and be attuned to other motivations that are important to human values, said Dr. Royce Lee, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago.

“You can often hear a person in a state of anger saying or doing something they really don’t like,” said Dr. Lee said. “And when they’re not angry, they’ll regret it and wish they hadn’t.”

According to Dr. Orli Etingin, internist at New York-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell, anger and chronic stress also affect our memory, making it not “work very well.”

“Forget the fact that you’re probably sleep-deprived too,” he added, “but you definitely can’t pay much attention to things.”

You may have heard of the “gut-brain connection,” the much-discussed link between our emotions and our stomachs. Like other emotions, anger and rage can trigger gastrointestinal discomfort, malabsorption of food, and loss of appetite.

“The gastrointestinal tract is made up of muscle tissue and is innervated by nerves. So if you have very high adrenaline production, your stomach and intestines will be hyper-mobile,” said Dr. said Etingin. “You’re going to have cramps, you’re going to have diarrhea, because the muscles there are getting overactive.”

According to Dr. William Burg, a clinical psychologist and professor at the Yale School of Medicine, small changes in your routine can help mitigate these risks. “It’s nearly impossible to avoid feelings of anger, but meditation, breathing, fitness, and getting a full night’s rest are all helpful ways to manage anger.” Burg said.

“If we all grew up understanding that, we probably wouldn’t be as stressed and angry as we are,” he said.

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