Anger Or Rage?

Is it Anger or Rage?

Anger noun: A strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrongRage noun: A fit of violent anger

Everyone gets angry. This may seem to be an overly simplistic statement, however, it is worth considering that while we easily acknowledge happiness, sadness, jealousy or guilt as valid emotions, somehow we often feel it is wrong to express anger. This may be because we often confuse anger with rage. Therefore, it seems the true question is, what is the difference between anger and rage:

  • What exactly is anger verses rage?
  • What is it like for you to get angry as opposed to feeling enraged?
  • What makes you angry or pushes you into a state of rage?
  • What, if any, is the use of anger as opposed to the destructive force of rage?
  • What is the impact of anger or rage on you and those you love?

The underlying issue that needs clarification is the distinction between anger and rage. In truth, anger is a highly motivating feeling. We experience heightened reasoning and cognition. Anger can propel us to stand up against injustice or defend ourselves and those we care about in times of need. We often, in short, make better decisions when we are angry. It can help us with something as simple as settling up a mismanaged account with the telephone company, if we learn to regulate its affect and harness its power. Anger, when used effectively, can change our worlds. We rarely change our worlds when we are happy with them.

Rage, however, is something very different. It is rage, not anger that pushes us into a highly stressed state where our reasoning and cognition become impaired. We are apt to lash out, become aggressive and do or say things we will later regret. Whereas anger can support us when it is constructively harnessed, rage and its destructive nature is an issue that needs to be managed, controlled and understood.

It can be a complex undertaking in and of itself for us to learn to distinguish between these closely aligned states of being. One constructive place to begin, can be to consider the accompanying feelings we experiences with anger verses rage. By doing this, one can create a starting point through which one can begin to recognise and understand what is going on in a moment of intense emotion. Where anger can make us feel righteous and energised into action, rage is more often than not followed by feelings of shame and guilt; a desperate desire to repair the damage done with no ability to know where to begin. These accompanying feelings most often induce more stress, can lead to further feelings of anger or frustration, and a cycle begins to emerge.

The goal then, is to be able to distinguish between these two states, embrace the positive attributes that anger can provide, while containing the elements of anger that can spin off into rage and destructive behaviour. This may sound easy or over simplistic but, with practice, it can create a framework through which effective emotional management can begin.

Recognising the triggers of your rage can be difficult as they are different for everyone and they often arise quickly. These are often hidden as underlying causes within situations but, inevitably, it is the nature of the trigger that is likely to be the same even if settings or events appear different. It is, therefore, your reaction to a given situation, more than the situation itself, that one must be alert to. You may experience feeling or feelings of being:

  • Ignored (unseen or unheard)
  • Marginalised (set apart from others or undervalued)
  • Humiliated (your feelings are seen as ridiculous)
  • Dismissed (your feelings are seen as unimportant)

It is these responses to situations or events that may set you down an emotionally responsive path, resulting in an overwhelming feeling of anger, which, if unchecked, can lead to rage. The challenge in this moment is to recognise this feeling and make time and space for you to process it as very few situations in the long term are sorted out by a short-term explosive confrontation.

The first and most important step is to understand that defusing the extreme feeling in the moment can enable you to focus on the true source of your rage. Simple things like:

  • Walking away from the situation no matter how abrupt this may seem
  • Telling someone that you are unable to speak with them at that moment and you will return when you are feeling more calm
  • Stay away from alcohol or other behaviour altering substances.
  • Tell someone you will ‘give some thought’ to what is being said and walk away. Even if you do not mean it, it may give you the time you need to reflect, calm down and consider what you hope to gain from the exchange when you return.
  • Ring someone you trust.

Whichever one or combination of the above you choose, the objective is to break or disrupt your pattern or spiral into a state of rage. If you still find that your rage interferes or impinges upon your quality of life, the lives of those you care about, or interferes with work, your next course of action is to seek specialist support.

In short, anger can propel you to fight for a cause, change an injustice or make a change for the better. While in this state you can learn and evaluate the situation when new information comes to light. Anger is a powerful tool when used appropriately. Rage can leave you feeling ashamed and often humiliated by your actions. It can leave you feeling physically exhausted and more isolated having damaged those you care about and who care about you.

Anger is a skilled surgeon, to rages bull in a china shop.

Some Considerations on the Causes of Depression 1.

What are the causes of Depression?

The causes of depression vary for each individual and can happen for one or more reasons. It is also possible that it may appear for no obvious reason.

Loss and Bereavement

Events or experiences can often trigger bouts of depression. It could be following the death of someone close or a major life change such as losing a job, moving home, the loss of a much loved pet or simply moving from one phase of life into another, e.g. retirement, children leave home, or you come to realise that you may never have a family of your own.

Recovery is not just surviving the negative experience that causes the depression but how we deal with it. If the feelings provoked are not expressed or explored at the time, they can fester and contribute towards depression.


In some cases, people call depression “Frozen Anger” or view it as anger turned inwards or at yourself . You may have experienced something which left you feeling angry and helpless, and if you were unable or not allowed to express your feelings at the time – perhaps because you were a child at the time, or your feelings were unacceptable to others – the anger may become internalised and this is then expressed as depression.

Life events

In many cases, the first time you become depressed may have been triggered by an unwelcome or traumatic event like being sacked, divorced, physically or sexually assaulted or suffering the loss of a loved one.

Childhood experiences

It may also occur if you experienced a traumatic or disturbing event in childhood or were abused physically or emotionally, or were not helped or taught good coping skills as you grew up. This can leave you feeling less able to cope with difficulties as they arise as an adult.

Physical conditions

Some physical conditions may also cause depression, but this is sometimes overlooked because the focus is on physical symptoms:

  • conditions affecting the brain or nervous system
  • hormonal problems, especially thyroid and parathyroid problems
  • symptoms relating to the menstrual cycle or the menopause
  • low blood sugar
  • sleep problems

It is worth considering that, if any of the above conditions apply to you, make sure your doctor knows about them. Some of these problems can be diagnosed by simple blood tests and your doctor may suggest that these are done to help make the right diagnosis, or you can ask for blood tests if you think they might be relevant for you.

Side effects of prescription medication

Depression is often a side effect of different medicines; an example could be that some people become depressed after a heart attack and this may be because they are taking beta blocker medicine as part of their treatment.

If you are feeling depressed after starting a course of medication, it is worth first looking at the patient information leaflet that came with the medication to see if depression is listed among the side effects. If you think a medication may be causing your depression, you could discuss this with your doctor to see if there is an alternative medication that you could take, particularly if you expect the treatment to continue for some time.


Poor diet and general lack of fitness can both contribute to depression. Trying to take some exercise, even simply taking a walk each day, may contribute to feeling more at ease.

Street drugs and alcohol

You may feel tempted to have a drink to make yourself feel better. Alcohol is a recognised depressant and this will tend to make you feel worse. Drugs can also make you feel more depressed, especially if you use them on a regular basis.