6 Ways Constant Anger Can Hurt Your Health Long-Term | SELF
Think about the last time you felt really angry: that boiling sensation rising in your gut, heart pounding, muscles tightening, and (maybe) feeling an impulse to break whatever’s in your path. Turns out your body really is having a moment: All emotions—the good, the bad, and everything in between—can cause a cascade of physical responses, impacting everything from your muscular and cardiovascular systems to your hormones and nerves.
Most of us get angry, to some degree, on a regular basis. Anger can signal that you were wronged in some way, show potential enemies you can defend yourself, and prime your body for action in stressful scenarios. “Anger alerts us to a potential injustice, and it energizes us to confront that injustice,” Ryan Martin, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay and the author of Why We Get Mad: How to Use Your Anger for Positive Change, tells SELF.
When you’re hit with anger, your brain evaluates whether the situation is potentially threatening to your health. Once emotions are processed, that information is sent to a structure called the hypothalamus, which is responsible for keeping your body in a stable, balanced state. “The hypothalamus kicks off what is commonly referred to as the sympathetic nervous system, or the fight-or-flight system,” Dr. Martin explains. Your body then pumps out hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, triggering the physical effects mentioned above. Meanwhile, anything that’s not considered essential to your immediate survival—such as your digestive system—slows way down.
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