How to Deal With Angry Outbursts & Mood Swings

Anger is a totally legitimate and acceptable human emotion. But witnessing, or being the punching bag for, intense outbursts can cause worry and concern or worse, fear. The person spewing these outbursts is reacting to a stimulant that is out of their control---maybe a frustrating relationship, an error in judgment, a boring job or a lingering feeling of inadequacy. If she cannot identify any reason for her eruption, it could be an unknown trigger. Simply pointing out anger and mood swings as a problem helps demystify both causes and solutions.

Anger Management

Listen. When she starts one of her panicked outbursts, let her reveal to you what bothers her. Be patient. To help resolve confusion, stress and loss of self control, let her tell you what angers her or whatever comes out in her fit. If she does not tell you (or cannot identify) what irritates and angers her, hear what she will tell you.

Identify anger. Let the irritated person know that he is having a fit. You risk aggravating him, but when you are both in a diplomatic situation, bring up that angry outburst. Without pinpointing the outbursts, he might actually not recall them, or have identified them himself, as angry fits.

Practice a cognitive relaxation technique. See a psychologist, or talk to someone helpful. Encourage the angered individual to envision a word, phrase, or mental picture---like a tire swing or a mansion---when she is in a super-angry moment. The image or phrase seizes her, calms her, producing alternative ways of processing and reacting to anger. Relax and strategize. Find a way that works.

Advise him to control his anger. This is touchy: The command might make the person even more angry. But in another way it allows him to see his anger is not uncontrollable: He has power to take hold of it. Give the angry person that power.

Praise her when she practices self-control. When she practices restraint, compliment her power. Anger is not a blameworthy or criminal behavior---it is natural. Acknowledge her strength when she conducts herself properly; she is doing something worthy of compliment.

Moving Mood Swings

Exercise tension. Figure out a workout routine. Increase endorphins in the body: ride a bike in the park, run outdoors, punch a punching bag to let loose that excess anger. These aerobic actions calm the nervous system. Also, just going for a walk in nature is a soothing remedy.

Drink tea. For both angry outbursts and intense mood swings, sip a cup of chamomile. Chamomile tea leaves have a calming effect. Sipping a cup in the morning, the afternoon, and one before bed alleviates stress and anxiety. Chamomile tea leaves, mixed with earthy dried flowers, increase amino acids that help assuage muscle spasms and relax the nerves. Medical research asserts its soothing properties have calmed nerves for centuries.

Encourage the angered or mood-fluctuating person to nourish himself with beneficial foods. When he is really angry, he will probably not want to eat or hear about eating---but, at an appropriate time, encourage him to maintain a healthy diet. Milk is especially helpful. It contains tryptophan, which produces serotonin, a brain chemical with a positive, feel-good effect on the body. Fish is also helpful because of its omega-3 fatty acids and other balancing nutrients.

Enjoy a bit of chocolate. Chocolate makes angry or moody people happy, especially women suffering from PMS. This isn't a remedy, but it's a quick simple fix if over-sensitive outbursts get out of control. Suggest a square or two or three of chocolate when they're acting especially unrighteous and edgy.

Spot intense mood swings. Acknowledge that women suffer mood swings at specific phases because of hormonal changes. Recognize and accept that this resulting imbalance manifests in pre- and post menopause, pregnancy and post delivery. These imbalances do not excuse all behavior, but it is healthy to identify and accept periods of intense ups and downs.

Other techniques

Keep some of it in. According to a 1999 study by Brad Bushman, Ph.D., research now says the "letting it all out" catharsis isn't helpful. In fact, rushing to say everything may increase a person's hostility.

Motivate change. Prompt him to identify his angry moments and change them.

Accept and adjust. Forgive others and steer clear of holding grudges.

Categorize anger types. Pinpoint whether his anger results from genetic, chemical or hormonal imbalances, bipolar disorder, depression or another psychological problem. If so, encourage her to speak with a psychologist. Look into classes or anger management classes you can attend with her, to start. But be careful not push her into an uncomfortable and vulnerable position.