Anger Management: Can Keeping the Peace Keep You Alive?

Research on the effects of arguments on health

By: Davine Holness

Anger management: Argumentativeness may increase your risk of health problems

Anger management: Argumentativeness may increase your risk of health problems

While arguments can be hard to avoid, most of us know how damaging they can be to relationships.  But a new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health reveals that frequent expressions of anger and verbal altercations may be just as damaging for physical health.  The research was conducted by a team at the University of Copenhagen and kept track of 9,875 participants from 2000 to 2011.  The results were shocking: the participants who had initially reported that they had anger issues and often argued with people in their social circle were at least twice as likely to have died by the end of the eleven-year period during which the study was conducted.  This correlation might be because people with conflict-ridden families might be more reluctant to seek treatment for medical, psychological and psychiatric concerns.  Another posited explanation for the increased risk of death is that stress from frequent clashes with friends and family increases one’s chances of getting certain ailments such as hypertension, high levels of cortisol, inflammation, and angina.

What’s causing all this conflict?  The reasons may vary from person to person, but there are some common ways of thinking that cause arguments and verbal expressions of anger.  One of these is emotional insistence on something that’s highly unlikely to occur.  Such insistence happens when we try to change that over which we have no control; when we won’t budge, an argument is bound to ensue.  Another factor is stubbornness: we often over-value being right.  Rather than admit to others – and to ourselves – that we have made a mistake, we put more energy into proving our point and conflict escalates.  A similar issue is blaming others: attributing the fault for our own problems on other people or circumstances.  This does not leave room for resolution.

If arguments are causing problems in your life, therapy may help.  Feel free to contact the Bergen County, New Jersey or Manhattan offices of Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit for more information.



Bundrant, M. (n.d.). » Common Form of Expression Doubles Risk of Death – NLP Discoveries. Psych Central. Retrieved May 30, 2014, from


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