Tag Archives: anger

hormones

How Stress Hormones Can Change Your Brain

When we are angry, we don’t feel very good, and that tends to make us do or say things that we later regret. We also might get so flustered that we lose track of what made us angry in the first place. We feel out-of-control. There is a reason for that. It has to do with the stress hormones our bodies release when we are angry—cortisol. 

Our post yesterday talked about the process in which our bodies and brains react when we get angry. Today we are talking about the impact these hormones have on our bodies once they are released. 

Elevated Cortisol

When our cortisol levels are elevated, our brain neurons take in too much calcium through their membranes. The calcium causes the cells to go haywire and fire too quickly, resulting in their death. 

Too much cortisol leads to a loss of neuron activity in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, ultimately impairing your judgment. So rather than saying, “let’s talk about this,” you are saying “I hate you.” It’s not productive and you will probably regret it later. 

This is a great time to walk away from the situation, take a breath and calm down. Easier said than done, I know. 

Too much cortisol can also kill neurons and keep your brain from producing new ones. This is why it can be hard to remember what you should be saying, or what you wanted to say, in the heat of an argument. It also makes it harder to form short-term memories. So, later when you talk about the argument you had with your husband when he got home from work, you might not remember it exactly the way it happened. 

Decreased Serotonin

High cortisol levels lead to a decrease in serotonin (the happy hormone) levels. A decrease in serotonin adds fuel to the fire. It makes it easier to feel angry and more physically hurt. It also can explain why you might act aggressive or depressed when angry. They go together. 

Recognizing how these hormones can affect you, can make it easier to bounce back from an angry situation. If you know your serotonin levels are decreasing you can take steps to try to get them back again. A licensed counselor can help if you need some healthy coping mechanisms.

For a visual explanation of this process, visit https://www.nicabm.com/brain-how-anger-affects-your-brain-and-body-infographic-part-2/ 

anger

How Does Anger Affect Your Body?

Anger can be a tricky emotion to process. It tends to come on quickly and move throughout your body igniting a response. Just as quick as it comes on it can lead to some unfortunate events—poor choices, misdirected responses, damaged relationships, violence. 

We have all felt angry, but few of us really know how it works and how it impacts our overall bodies. By understanding how the process works, maybe we can better help to train our brains to think first, then react. 

First Things, First 

Before you are even aware that you might become angry, a spark (disappointment, frustration, judgment, rejection, fear, etc.) activates the amygdala—located in the brain’s medial temporal lobe, this part of the brain is known to play a key role in the processing of emotions. 

Once the amygdala is triggered it immediately becomes ready to turn on the body’s stress response system, often referred to by scientists at the “HPA axis” (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Adrenal). This starts the chain reaction of hormones—or the spread of fire throughout.

The Chain

The amygdala signals the hypothalamus, which then signals the pituitary gland by discharging the corticotropin-releasing hormone. The pituitary glad signals the adrenal glands by releasing the adrenocorticotropic hormone. The adrenal glad then secretes stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

These hormones quickly get to your neurons and cells causing you to feel a whole lot of unpleasantness, usually making you feel like you must react in some way. 

The Explanation 

Anger might sometimes feel unexplained — but why? But the truth is it did come from somewhere, that first spark. Identifying the exact reason for your anger can help you to work on your internal self, and why you might feel the way you do, and help you to react in a calmer, un-impulsive fashion.

For example, you are mad at your husband for coming home late after being out with his friends. Why are you really mad? Probably not because your husband was having a good time, but rather — he didn’t call and you were worried (fear) about his safety? Or, you are angry with your kids because they didn’t listen when you asked them to put their shoes on five minutes ago — you aren’t mad because they don’t have shoes on, you are frustrated because they didn’t listen. And now you are going to be late (judgment).

Tomorrow’s post will explain how stress hormones can change your brain.

For more information and a visual on this reaction, visit https://www.nicabm.com/brain-how-anger-affects-your-brain-and-body-part-1/ 

How long should it take to get over a divorce?

The other day someone asked me how long it should take to get over their divorce?

While I would have loved to give them a simple answer, it is not that cut and dry. The truth is it will take—as long as it takes. Every situation is different. Divorce itself, even if you and your partner agree that the marriage is not working and divorce is the best option, is not easy.

Your marriage ended for any number of reasons that can be hard to accept. Your divorce challenged your innermost voices, it put strain on your self-esteem and turned your entire world upside down. It is not supposed to be an easy thing to recover from. Even if you know in your heart that it was the right choice, it doesn’t mean that you will instantly feel wonderful. 

Your Internal Core

When you got married you expected to be with your partner forever. You made a commitment to each other to care in sickness and in health, to stand by each other in times of stress, and to grow old together. Just the mere factor of that not working out is a huge disappointment. It is a major blow to your internal core as a human being. 

That is not even taking into account things like children, pets, shared possessions—like homes, cars, etc. You are now faced with figuring out a new normal. If you have children you are likely feeling the strain of their own emotional distress. You are trying to make things as easy as possible on them, while it is hurting you to see them hurt. You may have been forced to move out of your home, split up possessions that may have been of high importance to you, and you may be feeling more financial strain than ever before—divorce is not cheap. 

All of these things make getting over such a thing extremely difficult. Don’t try to rush your heart. Instead, take comfort in knowing that you will find that new normal. You will. You will be able to move on. Your kids will be ok. You will find that happiness, that relief, whatever it is that you need. You will. In time. These things take time. 

Counseling services are always there for you if you need an extra set of ears to bounce things off of, or if you need guidance in how to move through this major life change. 

How to get over a breakup

No matter what the relationship entails, breaking up is hard. It means change and uncertainty over the future. It can easily unravel your current life as you know it. You are probably feeling overwhelmed with all the emotions as you go through the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. There it is. 

You will get there. You will find acceptance. But how do you do it? How are you suppose to move forward? It is all in the power of your thinking. 

Someone once told me that accepting a break up means there is no future with that ex. No wonder that person was struggling with moving on — why would the heart want to move forward when it sees no future? That is a pretty bleak and daunting way to think about your future life. Rather than looking at the break up as the end of everything, pivot your viewpoint. 

The reality is — we do.not.know if down the road you might have a new beginning with your ex.  So much can happen in the future. You don’t know if you will meet someone new, someone, you have an even stronger connection with. Regardless of what the future may hold, you have to accept the end of this current relationship (as you know it) before you are able to move forward. 

You have to let the death process of the current relationship take place. Travel through those five stages of grief so you can find a new beginning. Don’t prevent yourself from having a future relationship by avoiding acceptance. Just because this one relationship is currently over, does not mean there is no hope for the future. There is so much potential. So many different ways events can take place and shape our lives. Make the conscious choice to change your thinking and find the positive. 

Emotion and Love Can Coexist

There is this underlying fear that many people struggle with surrounding emotions of anger, being mad, or disappointed with another. The belief is that if we are mad at our significant other, then we are not ok. If we are mad, there is no love present. In fact, that is not the case at all. Emotions and love can coexist together. 

Not perfect all the time

In many cases, the more love we have for another the more these emotions affect us. We are not as likely to feel intense feelings of anger if we don’t also have intense feelings the other way. In relationships full of love, there is going to also be anger at some point or another. It is when we stop caring that things are more likely to not be ok. When we stop caring it can mean we also don’t want to try anymore. Whereas if we are angry, then we want things to be fixed. We want to come to a resolution. 

People that have this fear of making others angry have a desire to always please each other, to make other people happy. We become deathly afraid of getting people mad. But how healthy is that? Ask yourself what that really means for you? Are you hiding your emotions? Are you ignoring your feelings? Are you pushing your needs to the side for others? While it is important in any relationship to have a desire to please the other, it is important that you recognize things are not always going to be perfect all the time. There will be arguments, there will be things he/she does that anger you because you are different people. That does not mean you don’t love or care for each other in very big ways. 

Quit calling them ‘negative’ emotions

Certain emotions frequently show up in science and the media as “negative” emotions. We all know them as sadness, anger, disgust, frustration, etc. Then there are the “positive” emotions—happy, excited, etc. Instead of classifying an emotion as “negative” or “positive” how about we just start calling it by what it actually is? 

We are sending the message that emotions are bad.

When we classify an emotion as negative, we are sending the message that it is bad. That we aren’t supposed to feel this way. It makes us feel guilty about having these so-called “negative” emotions. No one wants to feel “negatively” or do the “wrong” thing. But an emotion isn’t bad. It isn’t wrong to feel a certain way. We need to stop grouping them together as a set and refer them to as an individual feeling. Yes, I am sad that my grandfather is in the hospital. Yes, I am disappointed I didn’t get the job. Yes, I am frustrated that the dog had an accident in the living room this morning. This is life, folks. 

These emotions are ok, they are healthy, they are necessary. We don’t need to pretend that we don’t feel this way. We don’t need to feel guilty or that we are doing something bad by feeling upset or disappointed. Rather we need to let the emotions come. We need to feel them, accept them, allow ourselves to work through them. What we don’t need to do is ignore them. That only compounds the situation and makes things eventually erupt. So instead of thinking about emotions as “negative” or “positive,” think of them simply as an emotion. Leave it at that. There is no need for classification.

Why are we bitter during divorce?

There are many reasons for divorce to occur leading to a vast array of emotions. But why would bitter feelings occur if you and your partner agree that your marriage isn’t working? If you don’t have any hard or angry feelings toward your partner then why would you feel so upset at the situation? Why can’t you just end the marriage and move on? 

It is because when you walked down that aisle you had an expectation of what marriage would be. You thought you would spend your life with this person and be happy and in love through the process. Now that reality is setting in and this expectation has been shattered, you are grieving. You have lost your marriage and now you have to grieve that loss. 

Human Nature

It is truly human nature to feel this way, according to a Psychology Today article that looks at a study done on chimpanzees. When all of their basic needs are met— safety, love, survival, esteem, and actualization— they act much differently than if they are missing one of those five. When you go through a divorce you are bound to feel bitter, angry, scared, and just plain jerkish because you are not having all your needs met. You suddenly have to worry about all these things you didn’t have to concern yourself with before. When we feel safe, secure, and loved we are able to rationalize things better. 

In addition to having your expectations shattered, you are also in for a whole slew of changes and let’s be frank — us humans don’t like change very much. Divorce also brings up many feelings of being powerless and out-of-control, you might not know how things are going to play out, what will tomorrow be like? And, there is a need to fight for what you love and believe—a sense of entitlement. Even if you still deeply care for your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you remember how long it took to pick out that couch downstairs and you want it back. You also worked really hard to save up for that house and now you don’t want to sell it. You want to hang on to the things that are important to you. 

Divorce is one of the most stressful things a person can ever endure. It is a mountain of obstacles to face and it takes time and energy to get to the other side. If you are feeling overwhelmed, bitter, stressed, angry, know this is normal. Seek help from a licensed therapist who can help you to take care of yourself. 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemplating-divorce/201207/where-are-you-the-divorce-stress-scale

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemplating-divorce/201101/why-are-divorcing-people-often-jerks

https://www.yourtango.com/experts/pegotty-and-randy-cooper/4-reasons-divorce-makes-good-people-act-like-jerks