The Dangers of Uncontrolled Anger when Managing Chronic Pain

Author: Brian Jones, HPS Clinical Pharmacist

Everyone experiences negative emotions such as fear, sadness, guilt and anger. People with chronic pain are often too familiar with these negative emotions. When negative emotions get out of control, it can start to affect your health. If you have a chronic condition, it’s important to recognize your negative emotions, especially anger. Anger is the most prominent negative emotion expressed in people with chronic pain. You may feel angry at yourself, your caregivers or your healthcare providers. No matter who your anger is directed toward, Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) wants to help you recognize your anger and manage it well so that you can live easier, healthier and happier.

The Connection Between Anger and Your Health

When people first experience chronic pain or receive their diagnosis for a chronic condition, there is a transition period. Chronic conditions may cause significant changes to everyday life. This transition can be frustrating and difficult. Anger is a common part of this transition as people with chronic pain process their diagnosis and establish their new normal.

Anger is not inherently bad. It can be a powerful emotion that sparks new motivation for change and help us reach positive outcomes. However, frequent angry outbursts and uncontrolled rage have negative effects on your health.

Anger Causes Physical Reactions

Anger is a strong emotion that can have a physical effect on your body. High levels of anger are linked to increased muscle tension and increased sensitivity to pain. This means uncontrolled anger can make you feel worse if you have chronic pain. Anger can affect your body in other physical ways, too. Angry outbursts can trigger migraines and raise your blood pressure. It can affect your digestive system, sleeping habits and your immune system. Anger is closely tied to depression and anxiety symptoms. Uncontrolled anger can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. If you’re having frequent outbursts of rage, it’s important to talk with your doctor and develop a plan to manage your anger.

Anger Affects Your Support System

Managing chronic pain often requires a team of family, friends and caregivers. These are the people who walk beside you to offer support and encouragement. Uncontrolled anger can make it harder for your caregivers to support you during your treatment journey. Anger can drive away the people you love or create conflict. It can build resentment and cause unnecessary stress in your most important relationships. It’s normal to have good days and bad days, but be mindful of your anger. Share your feelings with a trusted friend or caregiver who can help you recognize the source of your anger and find healthy ways to manage it.

Anger Alters Your Judgement

When you’re angry, you’re probably not thinking clearly. In an agitated mental state, you may make rash decisions that have negative consequences for your health. You may decide not to take your medication as prescribed or skip doctor’s appointments. People who struggle with anger are also more likely to engage in harmful behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse. Don’t let your anger get the best of you or cause you to make destructive, impulsive decisions.

If you stop taking your medication as prescribed, whether it’s because of anger or another reason, be sure to tell your HPS pharmacist. He or she can work with your healthcare team to get you back on track with your medication.

Anger as a Symptom or a Medication Side Effect

If you have frequent, uncontrolled rage, be sure to talk to your doctor or HPS pharmacist. Emotional changes like anger can be a symptom of other healthcare conditions. It can also be a medication side effect. Common medications used to treat high cholesterol, depression and other conditions can affect your mood. Your HPS pharmacist can help you determine if your medications may be causing emotional changes. If your anger is linked to a medication or health condition, your healthcare team can help you respond accordingly to manage your anger and your chronic condition well.

Recognizing and Managing Anger

The first step to managing your anger is recognizing that it’s a problem. offers information about how to recognize the signs of anger. Many relaxation techniques, such as regular exercise and deep breathing can help with anger management. The Mayo Clinic offers additional tips to help you stay in control. If you need help managing your anger, work with your doctor and your HPS patient care team to find reliable, professional anger management resources.

A Whole-Health Approach to Managing Chronic Conditions with Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions

Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) takes a whole-health approach to managing complex, chronic conditions. This means our experienced team members provide the support you need to manage all aspects of care. If you’re having trouble managing your anger, our certified case manager can connect you to professional anger management resources. Contact HPS or visit our location in downtown Des Moines to learn more about all the ways we help our patients live easier, healthier and happier.