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Physiological Responses to Anger

Emotions are directly related to feelings and thoughts, yet there is also a connection between the physical reactions and the emotions we experience. Think about the times you have felt your pulse race or your mouth go dry. These physical changes probably occurred while you were experiencing a strong emotion, such as anger. There are definite physical responses caused by anger.

All human beings have a nervous system that automatically reacts to strong emotions such as anger or fear. Think of anger as an emergency signal for the body. To meet this emergency, the nervous system activates and prepares the body. Think of something in the past that angered you and then try thinking of how your body responded to that anger.

Usually the body’s first response to anger is an increased breathing rate. This is the body’s way of taking in more oxygen. When you breathe faster, your heart pumps faster. This increases the pressure on your arteries. When you are angry, you might break into a sweat. This helps cool your body. If you look into a mirror, you may find your pupils are dilated.

Your face is likely to either turn pale or flushed. When you are angry, your hands can also turn cold. A lot of energy is used by your body when you are angry. You might find yourself shaking. Physically unfit individuals may experience pains in the chest. It is healthy to blow off steam once in a while, but repeated anger can deplete the energy reserves in the body. Your body’s health is jeopardized when it has the extra stress of anger feelings. Anger can cause stress on the body’s major systems such as the heart, nerves, or respiratory functions.

Recognize the physical signs and be aware of the effects anger has on the health of the body. By being more aware of how anger affects the body, you can make efforts to prevent damage to your health.

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