This article belongs to Addictions Anonymous column.

A person can be angry and never realize it, especially if he or she grew up surrounded by angry people and learned to feel resentment toward the adults in life. Anger can become an enduring personal quality and is a major feature in the profiles of many addicts. Aside from addiction, there are other serious health risks for the chronically angry person.


Anger and depression

When someone is locked into a long-term angry mood, we often see a cycle in which anger energizes actions that are impulsive and ill-considered. Anger is a very poor motivation, and it doesn't feel good. With anger, things go badly for lack of rational planning, and then depression, guilt, and self-loathing take over, once again, only to be dispelled in a return to anger-pushed behavior. Although chronic anger is a high stress state of living, addiction is the easy, quick, and available mood lifter so, unless anger is removed, relapse is almost certain. An angry abstinence lacks durability and solves nothing.


The body language of anger

 No one can read body language perfectly, but there are clues that suggest a long-term angry view of the world. These clues include tooth grinding, nail biting, a flushed face, difficulty making eye contact, sitting with arms crossed defensively on the chest, explosive vulgar language, cursing, difficulty taking directions, bouncing a foot or leg up and down, evasive answers, procrastination, and blaming of others. Generally, a person with chronic anger makes those around him or her uneasy, so a check of your own feelings may help in measuring a friend's anger levels.


The body language of depression

Anger and depression can be opposite sides of he same coin or they may go together. If you suspect depression in someone, look for slumped posture, tearfulness, slow movements, frequent sighing, fatigue, expressions of failure and futility, loss of pleasure in life, confessions of guilt, etc. The depressed person may provoke a debate as a way of self-energizing; the ensuing argument helps to shake off the depression temporarily. Forced humor may also appear in what is called laughing depression.


Physical signs of depression and anger

If the anger-depression cycle goes on for long there is, according to some research, the possibility of stress related illnesses such as high blood pressure, muscle tension, and poor sleep. Sudden periods of extreme fatigue are often seen following a high-energy episode.


Medication for the anger-depression cycle

Medicine in the United States today has become almost a branch of chemistry with hundreds of different drugs from which physicians can choose. Some excellent drugs can help alleviate depression in carefully evaluated cases; no drugs, however, can supply the kind of life altering changes in thinking we can make within ourselves. People with an addiction problem who think depression may be a major part of their lives should seek out physicians and mental health clinicians who specialize in addictive behavior. A general practice physician may be willing to prescribe antidepressant medications, and many of them do. However, a careful mental status examination by a skilled psychologist or psychiatrist is a far better diagnostic tool than a few moments with a general practice physician. The offer of chemical help for depression should probably always lead you to get a second and even a third opinion.


Letting go of anger psychologically

Changing the habits of a lifetime is very difficult and may take years of practice. Some of the important changes one can make to ease the constant burden of anger are:

  Learn to live in the moment letting yesterday and tomorrow take care of themselves

  Shut up; stop defending and really listen to and care about what others are telling you

  Forgive, at the deepest possible level, all who have wronged you both recently and in the remote past

   Make sincere and overt amends to those at whom you've vented or expressed your anger

  Practice focused meditation and relaxation twice every day

   Consistent with your physical health, be sure to get a good aerobic exercise period everyday, no matter what

  Stop making judgments; accept the world and its people for what they are


More and more people are discovering that Buddhist philosophy helps find a greater peace in their lives. Book stores usually have many books to offer in this area.

If you are habitually angry, you have probably just skimmed over the suggestions above, so go back now and try to start changing your personality. Begin to try new ways of living and thinking, or continue to suffer. It's your choice.