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What Are the Causes of Uncontrollable Anger?

By Lily Ruha
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The causes of uncontrollable anger are rooted in a variety of physiological, emotional, and mental health issues. People may experience rage due to a long-term pattern of suppressing frustration, disappointment, or underlying threats or fears. Young children often experience temper tantrums due to unmet needs or the inability to verbally express their feelings. Some women experience anger issues if they suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Explosive anger also is associated with psychiatric conditions and mental illnesses such as borderline personality disorder.

For the average healthy person, uncontrollable anger is often linked to suppression of feelings related to unfair or stressful situations. The act of repressing anger on a continual basis may result in losing one's temper or overreacting to minor situations. Managing anger problems may require becoming more assertive in addressing problems as they occur. Anger management programs can teach people how to tune into their feelings and use effective language to express their frustrations before they snowball into rage.

Uncontrollable anger in young children is typically related to their emotional development and communication challenges. Toddlers may become angry if a toy is taken away from them or if their physical needs are not met. Older children with undeveloped communication and problem-solving skills may yell or hit out of extreme frustration. Strategies for addressing anger in young children include removing them from the emotionally charged situation, calmly asking about their needs, and suggesting options and solutions. Teaching children problem-solving techniques and encouraging them to describe their feelings empowers them to deal more productively with anger.

Premenstrual disorders are among the causes of uncontrollable anger for some women. PMS often causes mood changes and irritability. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is characterized by the mix of serotonin imbalance and hormonal changes. A variety of physical and emotional symptoms are associated with this condition, causing some women to feel emotionally distraught, out of control, and angry. Symptoms are typically more intense just prior to menstruation, lessening during menstruation, and disappearing afterwards.

Other causes of uncontrollable anger include mental illness. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a psychiatric illness characterized by emotional instability, impulsiveness, and the inability to maintain interpersonal relationships. People with this illness suffer from an intense fear of abandonment; their perceptions that people do not want to be with them may cause feelings of intense rage, often leading to reckless actions and self-destructive behaviors. Treatments for the condition include cognitive-behavioral therapy, mood stabilizers, support groups, and family therapy.

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Discussion Comments
By anon356067 — On Nov 21, 2013

@anon336814: I agree with many points you make. My situation is eerily similar to yours. I bought into a religious belief system that conditioned us to 'not seek prominence for ourselves", "you're prideful if you strive to better yourself financially or through higher education."

It was all about supposedly being humble and serving god (read the leaders of this religion). As a result your ego, you sense of identity and purpose are eroded to the point you mention, 'you essentially aren't worth others' time or attention, unless of course they find something they can use you for to benefit from. You are somewhat correct in stating that anger and pride is healthful. It is to the degree that we use it constructively, not destructively.

We should use our anger and pride to motivate ourselves to action -- a sort of ' I'll show you ' attitude. There is no better revenge than success. I have started doing that, updating my skills through online groups and local contacts and setting out in a new career direction. I've been talking with a financial adviser. Even a small start is a start in the right direction.

By anon349512 — On Sep 26, 2013

My soon to be ex, after 10 years of marriage, has been ignoring our toddler and older special needs son for months on end sometimes, only to reappear with promises of consistent contact. The toddler took a bad tumble this week, on top of a double ear infection and has been crying for his "dad".

I feel uncontrollable rage towards my ex right now, every time my son cries for him. The last time I talked to him weeks ago on IM, he asked nothing about the kids and when I once again told him the pain our kids were in and how it seems like he doesn't care, his response was "I know you'll take care of them, I'm not worried about it". Our toddler was reaching for the phone and crying for him again today. I finally called the ex and blew up on him, after holding it in for the past few weeks.

I am at the point where my anger towards him for hurting our children is uncontrollable. I feel like he is doing this on purpose to get a rise out of me, and he just won again today. I'm worried about how my anger will effect my children. What can I do to let go of these feelings that bubble up, when my youngest won't stop crying for him? I'm at a loss and start to think crazy sometimes, like giving over custody even though I know he doesn't want it and wouldn't properly care for them.

My ex is military and we are stuck at his last duty station before he left overseas. I don't know many people here and my family lives far away, and have busy lives and their own families to attend too. I feel like this situation is so unfair and it's gone on for so long. I know I can't control my ex, or my son wanting to talk to him, but I'm starting to feel like I can't control myself either.

After my last blow up at my ex today, and picking my son up from school still in tears and beyond pissed, I realize I need some help with this anger. I'm just not sure what to do. Any advice would be great.

By anon336814 — On May 31, 2013

The trouble that happens for some people is that they have lived too many years being unfairly treated. I agree with that completely. I used to be very calm and accepting of all things as they came. For years my anger slowly built, as I watched situations unfold that I could not come to terms that they were actually happening.

I would work hard and study hard, yet these constantly failed to pay off. Someone's kid or friend would take preference. Other times, it was simply my sex or the color of my skin that mattered much more than my work or intelligence. I find myself now at a point far from where I should be at in my life. This isn't because I have thoughts of grandeur or too high of esteem.

It is, in fact, the opposite that creates this frustration. Some of us are demeaned and asked to accept that we have so little value for so long and often, it is hard to start supporting our own ego at all. You say, “Hey, wait a minute, I don't deserve this. I'm better than this.” You look at where you are, and finally wake up from these years of oppression and abuse. You are going to be angry at a lot of people.

The worst part is finding that you are so low in salary and position that others have no respect for you. They do not hand me things; they throw them down in front of me. They ignore your words and refuse to acknowledge your voice. Finally, they look at you as if you scare them and refuse to accept your right to basic respects of society in various situations. You end up treated more as an animal or slave than a human.

Honestly, there is no way to deal with this. The only medicine would help you accept being something that you shouldn't have to be. The only thing you have left is anger and pride. That is healthy. It is how change occurs and what allows us to survive.

By anon330155 — On Apr 14, 2013

I need help with my husband. we been together for 4 years now and his bouts of anger are escalating. I'm trying to understand him, but it's hard. He gets angry if I don't have a buck for a soda, he gets angry if I use all the detergent for his clothes, he gets angry for nearly everything that comes out of my mouth and I don't know what to do. Then he gets verbally abusive, saying things I never thought a husband would say to his wife.

By burcinc — On Jan 19, 2013

@anon305354-- Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can cause uncontrollable anger. But this is not the only symptom and symptoms can be controlled with medication. You should see a doctor and explain yourself.

By donasmrs — On Jan 19, 2013

@DylanB-- I'm not a psychologist but I think what you experienced is completely normal. If you don't vent your anger by expressing yourself as situations develop, it will build up and result in an anger explosion.

You should try to get things off your chest every now and then to prevent this from happening.

We're all human. We can't be perfect and calm all the time. We're bound to get upset and angry every now and then. I think the only time to worry is if this anger becomes persistent and if it leads to us hurting ourselves or others. Then, there is a problem and psychological support is needed.

By bear78 — On Jan 18, 2013

I personally think that children and toddlers have anger tantrums because that's what works.

Children are very smart and they learn very quickly what the best way is to get what they want. If parents quickly give in every time the child goes into an anger tantrum, the child will understand that this is a very effective method and will keep using it.

My nephew does this all the time. My sister needs to learn to say no to him or his anger will never be controlled.

By anon311400 — On Jan 01, 2013

At times, I have mild fits of fleeting anger. I don't always understand why but usually if someone is pushing my buttons. I have an amazing ability to control it yet one day these suppressed feelings may boil over. Does anyone have any methods for controlling/managing anger?

By anon305354 — On Nov 26, 2012

I get bursts of anger sometimes. Might anyone have a clue what's going on? I'm 19 years of age, male, have some close friends and come from a good family, but I get agitated easily.

When I get these "bursts" of anger, my body feels like it's pumping 100 miles an hour, my body shakes and I get dizzy. I break things, throw things, hit, and yell at anything/anyone close by. Then after a few minutes, I begin to calm down, and then I'm exhausted and feel like crap. What is this? Why does it happen?

By gravois — On Nov 11, 2012

I own a small construction company and what really makes me angry is lazy people. I can put up with a lot, and if I feel like a guy is pulling his weight I can forgive mistakes, but if I see someone dogging it or avoiding work it really stirs me up inside.

How can a man not have pride in his work like that? If you are getting paid to do a job, you do it, that is what your character rests on. I guess not everyone sees it like that.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Nov 10, 2012

I am pretty peaceful guy generally, but sometimes my family is capable of sending me into blind fits of anger.

I am not like that with anyone else, but I guess my family, my mom and brother especially, are so close to me and my history that they can create some powerful feelings inside me.

By OeKc05 — On Aug 11, 2012

I usually get really depressed and emotional in the days before my period. I've never had uncontrollable rage, though. I suppose that is how PMS manifests itself in some women.

I just get really sad for no reason, and even the slightest little thing can make me cry. I suppose that is better than yelling at people and looking like a crazy person.

By Kristee — On Aug 11, 2012

I think it's sad that when children though temper tantrums in public, people blame the parents. It's not always the parents' fault.

I think that every child throws at least a couple of tantrums in his or her lifetime. I can recall throwing a couple myself, and my parents disciplined me well.

Sometimes, the rage just has to burst forth. When you are really little, that's the only way that you can get people to notice you and take you seriously. It's hard being ignored and having your needs deemed unimportant, and sometimes, you just have to do whatever it takes to get someone to listen.

By feasting — On Aug 10, 2012

@DylanB – I can totally understand how someone who bottles up their anger can suddenly explode one day. What baffles me is when a person has uncontrollable anger just under the surface that comes out frequently.

I worked with a very angry man who lost his temper on a daily basis. He walked around red-faced all the time, and at least once a day, I would hear him in his office, shouting angry words at a coworker or anyone whom he felt had wronged him.

It didn't surprise me when he had a massive heart attack. I think that everyone knew this was coming. You can't be that angry all the time and be unaffected physically by all that poison.

By DylanB — On Aug 10, 2012

I have always been really bad about repressing my anger. Everyone knows me as the quiet one with a gentle disposition, so I really shocked them all when I exploded one day.

My rage had been stewing for months, so all it took to tip me over the edge was one little thinly veiled insult. I just started yelling, and my true feelings began to spill from my lips like lava. I didn't even have control over what I was saying anymore.

That was really liberating and frightening at the same time. It felt so good to get things off my chest, but the fact that I wasn't in control anymore scared me.

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