Anger is typically a strong emotion that can have an important impact on physical wellness, and learning to control anger is an important part of emotional maturity – something that can prove to be essential for maintaining positive overall health. Bottling up anger, a response that many people employ to deal with the emergence of this powerful emotion, can cause even greater problems, an effect recently explored in a study performed at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Hoping to discover how different reactions to anger may affect those with pre-existing heart conditions, the researchers worked with a group of over six hundred participants who had coronary artery disease, and the study followed their progress over the course of about six years.
The study examined different coping styles, particularly the tendency to suppress feelings of anger rather than to seek professional help or to confide in others. The experience of significant feelings of anger was assessed through the assignment of personality type D to some participants. This personality type is associated with anger and negative feelings, and was shown to be a much more present factor among those participants who experienced a major heart attack or who died during the course of the study. Anger was associated with much higher rates of heart attacks and death until researchers accounted for the presence of other factors such as high blood pressure. Suppressed anger, however, retained its link to the increased likelihood of death and coronary issues, suggesting that bottling up anger may literally be bad for heart health.
Working with a therapist or other professional to develop both short- and long-term methods of managing anger may prove to be life-saving for those who have already experienced troubles with their heart health, and ensuring that healthy processing and release of anger is both learned and practiced may help a greater number of people avoid developing such issues in the future.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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