Anger is one of the strongest emotions we’re capable of feeling, so it’s only natural that it affects our physical and mental states in a major way. But you may be surprised to find out just how much it can change your brain.
Anger first starts in the brain, where the amygdala, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland start a signaling chain to release stress hormones. The hormones that are released cause you to lose brain cells, especially in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which are responsible for decision making and memory forming. This explains why people are more prone to making irrational decisions when angry.
Have you ever gotten so angry you thought you were going to pop a vein? Turns out, the hormones produced by anger prepare the body for a fight-or-flight response. Furthermore, when the body is overexposed to these stress hormones, the blood vessels become clogged and damaged, increasing risk for stroke and heart attack. This was the case of Red Forman from That ’70s Show, who got so angry he suffered a heart attack.
Interestingly, eye sight decreases when you’re angry, which means the saying “blind with rage” isn’t just figurative. Though anger and stress can help you escape immediate danger, prolonged exposure is not healthy.
Learning to control your anger and stress levels could help your overall health and add extra years to your life, not to mention improving your relationships too. Learn about ways to reduce stress here.