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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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What can I do about angry people? They are fully aware that

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What can I do about angry people? They are fully aware that they react poorly to stressful situations, but how can I help them calm down? They currently work out a lot (i.e. swimming 2km/cycling 50km 3-4 times a week), however, I believe it is their home and work life that they react poorly to. Their temper is almost scary and possibly health threatening in the long term. I believe their lack of restful sleep may also cause issues, however, over the counter sleep aids do not seem to help (208 lb athletic male - he'd take maybe... 9 benedryls before he felt the effects?)
Methods that do not involve meditation (he is adverse to meditation), or hopefully prescription medication would be preferred.
Mark Manley :

Hi are you still there

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I'm still here. The chat ended before I had a chance to reply.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

This person may want to see their doctor first to rule out any medical condition that could cause them to act out. You are correct about the sleep issue. Lack of sleep can make it harder to control your feelings, especially stronger emotions like anger. The doctor may recommend a sleep study to get to the bottom of why this person is not sleeping. The doctor could also prescribe medications to help induce sleep until the cause is found.

Does this person use alcohol or drugs? This could adversely affect their moods and cause sleep disturbances. Steroids in particular can cause extreme anger responses.

You can help the situation by remaining calm when this person becomes angry. It is hard, I know, in the face of such a frightening and strong emotional response, but the more calm you remain, the more likely this person will mirror your reaction and calm down themselves. Take a deep breath and see if he will do the same. Do it until you feel he is calming down.

Would this person consider anger management classes? That might be a good start in helping him learn techniques on controlling his anger and learning better ways to channel his feelings.

Also, would he consider counseling? This is also an excellent way to learn ways to cope and it would also help him get to the bottom of the anger, as long as any physical cause is ruled out. Have him talk with the doctor for a referral or he can search on line for a therapist at

Does he have any spiritual beliefs? Sometimes, people can find solace in their faith. There is also a lot of support through church programs. Talking with a pastor can help in that they can provide ways faith helps with anger issues.

Here are some books that may help as well:

Rage: A Step-by-step Guide to Overcoming Explosive Anger by Ronald T. Potter-Efron

Beyond Anger: A Guide for Men: How to Free Yourself from the Grip of Anger and Get More Out of Life by Thomas J. Harbin

Angry All the Time: An Emergency Guide to Anger Control by Ronald T. Potter-Efron

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

If at any time you feel this person's anger gets out of control and it is directed at you, leave immediately. Also, keep a cell phone on you with emergency numbers on speed dial in case you cannot get away quickly. I don't want to scare you, but it never hurts to be prepared.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Kate,
Thanks so much for the comprehensive reply. No, this person does not take alcohol or drugs. He tries to avoid them if he can as he does not want to build up resistance to these things. I have noticed that he is markedly happier when he is well-rested, which is why I brought up sleep as a potential factor. We've ruled out bed problems and the such since the bed is new.
I do not think he would ever consider counseling or spirituality. I suppose the best way to describe his personality is that he is extremely...masculine. He grew up with a father who believes that emotions such as crying would be a symbol of weakness, and he also works in an extremely male-dominated trade. As such, the idea of 'asking for help' by going to counseling (or any form thereof) would be considered 'weak.' As such, I believe that his reaction to any sort of deep emotion, whether it involves him or not, causes him to react in anger. He is also unable to communicate effectively during conflicts, i.e. it is very difficult for him to apologize, and if he does, he sounds extremely frustrated/angry.
This anger frequently spills across his relationships, though he does not notice it. He will either be extremely snappy to seemingly benign questions (asking him what he wants for dinner will do it, for example), or he will show his affection in a teasing manner that, if done too frequently, can be hurtful.
I know it's a bit of a challenge and I'll accept any ideas that you have. I will definitely try and stay calm in front of his anger in hopes that he will mirror my behavior.

Thanks for the additional information.

It sounds like he learned this behavior from his family and was taught that to show any emotions besides "masculine" ones was a bad thing. When he is faced with an emotion that is off limits, it causes him to feel threatened and maybe even scared. It calls into question his "maleness" and so he becomes angry. It may also touch on feelings he has about his parents not accepting him for who he was as a child.

Since he is refusing to help himself, that leaves you to decide how you want to handle the situation. What you can do is educate yourself and try introducing helpful ideas into the situation. It will also help you learn how to respond in the best way possible. Read the books, learn from information on line (be careful to stay to reputable sites), maybe even consider a support group. You might also want to consider seeing a therapist yourself to help you cope and to get ideas on how to deal with him.

I don't know who this person is to you, but if it's a non relative relationship you can always leave. It's not an easy option, but if he won't get help, it might be the only option.


TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5839
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dear Kate,
I will definitely check out those books, and look into how I can respond to his anger. Empathy seems to work, sometimes, and the longer he stays away from his work and/or family seem to calm him down significantly. I.e. he is much different on a Sunday afternoon than he is on a Tuesday night.
I also looked into potential vitamin deficiencies and he is willing to take those (so long as they are in gummy format). We'll see if that helps out as well. He has been craving the sun recently.
Thanks so much for your detailed response. It shows care and passion for what you do.
Kind regards,

You are welcome! Sounds like you have some very good ideas to help him with the anger issues.

Take care,