The Effects of Suppressed Anger

Sometimes, behind an anxious or sad mood, there's repressed anger. In the end, it manifests itself in some other way, which is usually extremely negative.
The Effects of Suppressed Anger
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 17 February, 2022

Suppressed anger is a self-destructive condition. However, explosions of anger aren’t healthy either. As a matter of fact, letting your anger take over is just as harmful as not releasing it in a controlled way.

Therefore, you must learn to distinguish between suppressed and managed anger. The first thing you need to do is to identify what triggers your rage. It might be an external event, such as an assault, but also internal, such as the memory of an assault. It’s often due to feelings of frustration or fear. However, it’s not about stopping feeling angry for no reason, it’s about handling it properly when it occurs and getting to the bottom of why it’s happening.

Ignoring anger or any other feeling isn’t healthy. Indeed, avoidance doesn’t only not solve the problem, but often increases it. In fact, an important part of personal development consists of facing what anger feels like and knowing what to do with it.

“So what does this all tell us? Well, it suggests that holding your anger in doesn’t do you much harm, that the occasional outburst is probably OK and that it’s not so much whether you get angry that matters, but how you do it and how often.”

-Claudia Hammond-

Angry woman thinking about repressed anger

Suppressed anger

Suppressed anger occurs when you experience anger for some reason and deliberately stop yourself from expressing it. This might be because you consider it inconvenient to do so, due to prevailing social patterns, fear, or certain beliefs, among other reasons.

However, if the energy of your anger doesn’t dissipate, it’s contained under such pressure that it can be extremely dangerous if it explodes. Furthermore, it’s possible that this may not only happen once, but repeatedly.

For example, it often happens in relationships based on intimidation, whether they involve couples, colleagues, or family. In fact, where the source of anger is someone with whom you have a continuous bond, it’s common for a chain of anger to occur. This gives rise to a huge wave of suppressed anger.

These kinds of feelings can be suppressed, but that doesn’t mean they go away. What often happens is that the hostility tends to turn on you and ends up causing you psychological or physical symptoms. In other words, it can make you sick.

The consequences of suppressed anger

Anger isn’t something that only exists in your mind. When you experience anger, there are also a number of physiological effects that change the way your body works. Among the most visible changes are the following:

  • A rise in blood pressure.
  • Your heart rate speeds up.
  • The production of adrenaline increases in your body. This alters its balance.
  • An immune system imbalance occurs.
  • Your muscular system grows and becomes more rigid.
  • Your breathing quickens.

All of this, especially if it’s a regular occurrence, can make you more prone to developing certain diseases. Equally, by exploding, it’s likely that you’ll lose your self-control.

When it comes to repressed anger, your feelings of anger take longer to dissipate. It tends to be prolonged and keeps your body in the state of imbalance that we mentioned above.

As a human being, it’s normal and healthy for you to express emotions. That’s why suppression is unsuccessful. In fact, your anger will eventually find a way to manifest itself, and this is usually through your body.

angry mother and daughter

Process the anger

It’s not bad to be angry. It’s a normal response to a threat and, as humans, it’s part of our survival instinct. However, anger can also become a pattern for living in defense. In other words, you often feel afraid and make intolerance a way of overcoming your insecurities.

As a matter of fact, suppressed anger can lead to severe depression. In this case, the anger you weren’t able to manifest returns, and due to a rebound effect, ends up directed toward you. Under these conditions, you begin to beat yourself up and eventually lose interest in everything. This is usually because the person making you angry is a loved one, and you may feel it’s unacceptable to feel anger toward them.

It’s important to learn to accept your own feelings. Telling yourself you’re angry is the beginning. Indeed, in principle, feeling anger is positive. It’s a warning mechanism and it’s important to listen to it. However, you must process that signal so that it doesn’t become a factor that harms others or yourself. You weren’t born with this ability, but it’s never too late to learn.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Piqueras J. Ramos V. Martínez A. (2019) Emociones negativas y su impacto en la salud mental y física. Suma Psicológica. 16(2): 85-112.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.