Can holding in anger cause health problems?

A Russian medical proverb states: "Feelings that have no vent in words, may make other organs weep." This means that the way we feel - especially being sad, feeling hurt or angry can have very negative effects on other parts of our physical body and on our emotional. When we hold in anger, through our marvelous and complex nervous and hormone systems, we can experience harmful effects, both physically and mentally and this can lead to compromised personal and professional relationships. Anger is a stress for the body. When we get angry our body reacts by secreting adaptive hormones which have been linked to the "stress response". If this becomes chronic or habitual the following changes occur:
  • elevated blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • tense muscles
  • heart attack
  • hiatal hernia
  • glaucoma
  • stroke
  • hives
  • asthma
  • ulcers
  • migraines
  • low back pain
  • psoriasis
  • shortened life expectancy

Many studies have also connected anger to loneliness, chronic anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleep disorders, obsessive-compulsive behavior and phobias. It can also have a detrimental effect on our relationships and threatens the development and maintenance of intimate relationships. Communication is the key to learning how to handle our anger and creating healthy and fulfilling relationships.

Learning how to communication does not have to be complicated. While most of us have developed communication skills from our families and environment, there are easy to learn, proven skills that can provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to be able to channel and express your anger or hurt feelings appropriately.

When we are able to express our feelings, be they sadness, frustration, or anger we feel more in control of our lives and able to create the type of relationships we want with others.

As a researcher, I have participated in many years of studies on a model of communication that has been proven to work in all types of environments with all types of relationships. You can read more about it and download a free excerpt from the book by going to You can also get the book for free if you are a Kindle Prime member by typing in Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn, Proven Communication Skills.

Current research has clearly shown that it is healthier to express and resolve our relationships that it is to hold them in and allow them to make us ill or to cause conflicts at work, home or with friends and colleagues.

Robert Allan Ph.D.

There is a widely held belief in our society that anger "accumulates;" that is, if we don't express our anger bad things will happen to our body, such as high blood pressure, a heart attack, or stroke.  Research shows, however, that it is just the opposite.  Expressing anger in an angry way triggers the fight or flight response, raising heart rate, blood pressure, and the secretion of the "stress hormones" adrenalin and cortisol.  While this response is very helpful in fighting or fleeing from the proverbial saber toot tiger, it is not terribly successful in contemporary society.  Indeed, anger expressed in an angry way makes nearly any situation - WORSE! When was the last time you blew up at someone and were met with a response like, "thank you so much for raising my awareness, I'll never do that again."

Check out my book, "Getting Control of Your Anger" to learn how to better deal with this often challenging emotion. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.