Listen to “#16: PTSD and Anger ” on Spreaker.

In this episode of the PTSD Bytes podcast, host Dr. Pearl McGee-Vincent discusses PTSD and anger with Dr Margaret-Anne Mackintosh, a clinical psychologist at the National Center for PTSD.

AIMS bannerHealthy anger vs. problematic anger

While everybody experiences anger, it becomes problematic when it’s too intense, comes too often or starts to interfere with your life. This could look like problems at work or with family members, which can lead to social isolation. It can also be related to other issues, such as pain, difficulty sleeping, and alcohol and drug disorders

The connection to PTSD

AIMS mobile app logoMackintosh says that anger is a symptom of PTSD that often drives people to seek treatment. PTSD-related anger often appears as persistent irritability and being on edge. It can also be experienced internally and you may feel shut down or depressed. Mackintosh emphasizes that PTSD-related anger is valid even if you need help dealing with it.

Treatment and support

Part of treating anger is addressing its triggers, or situations and feelings that lead you to become angry. This can help you slow down the process of becoming angry too quickly.

If you want to work on it on your own, Mackintosh recommends the Anger and Irritability Management Skills (AIMS) course. The course is anonymous and can be used by Veterans and non-Veterans. The AIMS online course educates people about warning signs and triggers and provides tools to manage that anger.

The AIMS mobile app provides similar information and tools, as well as resources to find professional treatment options.

See the Introduction to AIMS for Anger Management app video:

If you want professional support to deal with PTSD-related anger, Mackintosh recommends cognitive behavioral therapy.

Additional links:

If you are a Veteran who is experiencing a crisis or supporting a loved one who is, dial 988 then press 1 for immediate assistance, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/chat.

By Alexandra Kaiser

Writing department head for VA’s Digital Media Engagement team

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Published on Aug. 31, 2022

Estimated reading time is 1.8 min.

Views to date: 2,443

3 Comments

  1. Cameron Homer September 8, 2022 at 8:49 am - Reply

    I can’t agree strongly enough with this article. My almost uncontrollable anger was a major motivator for me to accept that “something is wrong”. I was never a disagreeable person in my life. Suddenly I was shouting at the scout master and almost having a fist fight with a park ranger. My kids thought it was “awesome dad!” I had to tell them it was not awesome, it was a sign that something was wrong with me that needed to be fixed.

    I got help with the VA. Some people say you can be cured from mental illness. I am finding it is more like being an alcoholic, you are never cured and always have to be vigilant. I have to stay on top of prescriptions, and watch how I feel and remove myself from situations that I now understand will cause me to lose control. Learning to recognize the signs that you are about to “boil over” is key to protecting yourself and others. One of my greatest difficulties is becoming immune to prescriptions and having to keep changing the drugs I am prescribed. During the change there is a period where nothing is working and I have to be on my toes. I wish I could say I do it well, but I am a real person with real feelings.

  2. John B September 7, 2022 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    the VA has ZERO knowledge or ability to handle veterans with PTSD they march to their own tune knowing nothing and having no ability to even learn about PTSD
    I have suffered from PTSD for so long it is pathetic. The VA has done nothing because they know nothing about PTSD. They think that scholars with a piece of paper can write about and determine actions regarding PTSD while they do not even know what toilet paper is used for. I have tried to speak with people in Behavioral Care
    they are MORONS and complete AHOLES that understand nothing and just waste a Veteran time thinking they are the cats’ MEOW, they are more the problem than any attempt for a solution. Ads for the VA from the Sec retary to the Directors they are total ahoile that would not last 2 seconds on a battlefiled

  3. Charles Hannert August 31, 2022 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Well seeing you say PTSD and anger are link then at 78 years old neglected by the VA and the military when on active duty I have been neglected all but the last 2 years or so, I have had CPT and am now doing an A T 10 week VVC then what next ? Or ?

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