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Adolescent Anger

According to a Harvard Medical School finding published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in July, nearly eight percent of adolescents have regular violent outbursts that would fall into the category of a mental health disorder.  The study surveyed ten thousand teenagers and parents finding that these outbursts, identified as intermittent explosive disorder, is two to three times more prevalent in boys than girls.  While the study found boys more prone to these outbursts, there were still a significant amount of adolescent females suffering similar symptoms.

These violent outbursts are typically the result of adolescents who have gone untreated.  Teen’s depression and anxiety when untreated can worsen and lead to explosive behavior.  When adolescents are exhibiting symptoms associated with depression and anxiety it is best to get them evaluated expediently.  Typically a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist is a good place to start.  Depression and anxiety are highly treatable and the earlier the better.  It is important for parents and teachers to keep an eye out for students exhibiting a change in mood.  The more vigilant everyone is the better chance there is to identify an adolescent struggling with depression or anxiety.

For those that clearly have suffering from depression and anxiety for an extended period and have begun to experience violent outbursts, help is around the corner.  Typically a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist can be very influential in helping to reduce symptoms.  Additionally group therapy allows adolescents to connect with peers who are experiencing similar outbursts.  While therapy is a critical component, medication can also be useful in controlling symptoms.  It is important to consult a psychiatrist if medication is being considered to treat adolescent symptoms.

Psychology Today recently published an article with some useful tips for parents who have an adolescent exhibiting anger.  Below are three tips from Carl Pickhardt’s article in Psychology Today entitled “Adolescence and Anger.”

1) “Understand that anger is often not really about anger. It can be about more vulnerable emotions that are concealed underneath anger’s aggressive cover. So it’s always worthwhile asking the angry person: ‘What else are you feeling in addition to anger?’”

2) “Understand that perception mediates emotion. The equation is not: event = emotional experience. The equation is: event + INTERPRETATION = emotional experience.”

3) “Understand that all anger is about caring. People don’t get angry at what they don’t care about. They get angry about something that matters to them, and that is often worth talking about.”



Archives of General Psychiatry

Psychology Today



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