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The relationship between social anxiety disorder and a bad temper
Many of my clients indicate they struggle with both social anxiety disorder and a bad temper. Studies have shown that social anxiety is associated with less happiness and joy and more undesirable states such as sadness and anger. Although it is unclear if this anger and unpleasantness is caused by social anxiety or if the negative emotions are what contribute to the social anxiety. (Kashdan, May2010)
Additionally, studies have shown a relationship between anxiety and anger across all anxiety disorders; What are some reasons for the relationship between social anxiety disorder and a bad temper? If this is a problem you or someone you love suffers from what can you do?
One of the factors that is associated with increased anger seems to be the process of rumination or brooding. Ruminating is when you obsessively think about something over and over but do not successfully problem solve the situation or resolve it. The more one does this the higher the likelihood they will struggle with anger problems. Rumination has been associated with social anxiety also. Mindfulness treatment that targets the rumination may be a strategy that is helpful for people who suffer from anger and social anxiety(Alden, Dec2009). Learn more about rumination by clicking here.
Some theories have suggested that poor communication skills contribute to social anxiety (Weber 2004.)Assertiveness, or the ability to directly communicate what you feel think and need, is one of these skills. Those who lack this skill often feel angry and unhappy with others due to their failure to meet their expectations and needs. Anger can be a result of this dynamic. Training someone who has social anxiety to learn how to be assertive in their relationships is a strategy used to decrease anger.
Most people who have social anxiety are also suffering from depression. The isolation and sense of loss of control social anxiety causes can certainly contribute to depression. Depression often manifests itself as anger and irritability, especially in men. Additionally social anxiety can impair relationships, the ability to perform in the workplace, and a person's sense of self esteem. This stress can result in depression. Treating the underlying depression with an antidepressant or mood stabilizer can often help with anger. Additionally treatment that also focuses on depression can help with anger.
People with social anxiety disorder, and other forms of anxiety as well, resist situations where there anxiety may be triggered. Many people who have anxiety become angry or hostile when others make a request of them that provokes their anxiety. This is part of the fight or flight response that so often describes how and why we react to anxiety provoking situations. Most research studies , however, have not focused on the fight component of anxiety as much as the flight. Teaching people about the fight or flight mechanism can help them to gain an awareness of this. Additionally relaxation strategies can be employed to decrease the likeliness of this occurring.
Feeling disconnected, rejected and shamed may also leads to anger in people who suffer from social anxiety. Treatment includes teaching the client to accurately read social cues, and a set of social skills to interact more effectively with others so that their experiences are more rewarding.
Social anxiety fact sheet
Kashdan, T. B., & Collins, R. (2010). Social anxiety and the experience of positive emotion and anger in everyday life: an ecological momentary assessment approach. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 23(3), 259-272. Trew, J. L., & Alden, L. E. (2009). Predicting anger in social anxiety: The mediating role of rumination. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 47(12), 1079-1084 Weber, H., Wiedeg, M., Freyer, J., & Gralher, J. (2004). Social anxiety and anger regulation. European Journal Of Personality, 18(7), 573-590.
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