Even if you are the calmest person you know among your friends and family, something or the other can happen to send your anger clock ticking like a time bomb. Maybe your favorite sports team lost the match last night, or your precious pooch painted paw prints over your masterpiece when you weren’t there; or some idiot on the road rammed straight into your car, breaking the headlight. The reasons that call for such an emotional outburst are indeed many. But what many people including you don’t know is that anger is not just a simple emotion. It is, in fact, a chain of physiological and hormonal reactions in your body. While the external reactions of anger are quite predictable, the internal ones not so much. Read on if you’re curious to know what happens to your body when you’re angry.
Your amygdala goes into overdrive
Let’s say a nosy neighbor drops your precious case while on uncalled for a visit to your home. Now as you get angry at what has just transpired, a certain section of your brain, known as the amygdala, starts working at full speed. The amygdala is located in the temporal lobe of your brain, and its function is to control the fight or flight responses as well as the emotion of anger you feel. The behavior of your neighbor triggers your amygdala to act, and it consequently sends a rush of blood to the frontal cortex of your brain, thereby hampering your ability to think clearly. This is the reason why you end up saying all of those things that you don’t mean and later regret.
Your adrenal glands decide to fight or flight
Like we said, anger gives rise to a chain reaction in your body. And so we’ve come from your brain eighth to the top of your kidney where your adrenal glands are located. So as you lose your temper over your neighbor, your adrenal glands start to secrete considerable amounts of the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. As a result, your blood flow is redirected to your stomach and small intestines instead of your muscles. This can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, cause the dilation of your pupils and make your breathing rapid and shallow. Picture yourself raging at your neighbor. That would be you at this point.
Your body secretes more fatty acids
Your bloodstream gets polluted with high amounts of sugar and fatty acids when you’re boiling with anger. This happens because your body feels the need to provide you with enough energy so you can face a threat. This reaction can be extremely helpful in life-threatening circumstances; but if it happens too often with you, it turns into a bane instead of a boon. Frequent bursts of anger can result in the logging of your arteries with the increased amount of fatty acids and sugar. The hippocampus (or the area that responds to stress) may get confused too, and hence, may not be able to tell a real stressful event apart from minor incidences. This is bad news for you, as a confused hippocampus will lead you to react at the drop of a hat.
Other things happen to your body too
These are not the only things that go on inside your body provoked to be your worst. Other things happen too, and all of them are red flags that you should pay attention to. For example, a bad temper can double your chances of suffering from a heart attack. It can also significantly increase your risk of getting a stroke. That’s not all. Anger is also one of the factors behind your gradually worsening immunity. A study carried out by Harvard University scientists has proven that anger can give rise to a dip in the level of antibody immunoglobulin A, which help fight infections. (1)
Anger is also bad for you if you are an anxiety patient as it can worsen your symptoms. In fact, frequent bouts of anger over trivial issues can make you more prone to depression, which may require medical treatment. One of the worst outcomes of anger though is that it can shorten your life according to a study carried out by researchers belonging to the University of Michigan. (2) Lastly, according to another study by a scientist at the Harvard University, excess hostility can reduce the capacity of your lungs. (3)
One of the commonest methods to prevent an outburst and the stress associated with it is to count from one to ten. This gives your brain enough time to assess the situation in the correct manner so that it can deal with it better. Meditation can also help and so can yoga if practiced daily. Both of them can help you control your emotions so that you rule them instead of the other way round.