Everyone has some concept of what it means to be aggressive. Naturally, we all have aggressive tendencies as a result of our inherent need to protect ourselves. However, some people have such dominant feelings of aggression that it causes significant disruption in their lives. When it gets to this point, a problem exists and an intervention is likely needed. Aggression can be defined as any behavior that is destructive, hostile, and potentially violent. It can refer to a wide variety of behaviors that trigger physical and/or psychological harm to other people, animals, property, or oneself. The types of aggressive behaviors can vary in severity, ranging from emotional dysregulation to severe, manipulative behaviors, and can present as mental, physical, or verbal attacks. When many people think of aggressive, they tend to think of physical attacks like hitting, punching, and kicking. However, behaviors such as blatantly excluding others, starting rumors, bullying, and spitefully arguing with others can be just as devastating and damaging.
When a person loses control of his or her ability to refrain from acting out in an aggressive, it can have a detrimental impact on his or her life. Uncontrolled aggression and misplaced anger can destroy relationships, cause problems at work or school, and instigate one’s participation in risky behaviors. The effects of excessive aggression will have a negative impact on the person who struggles with this lack of control, but on the lives of those in that individual’s life as well.
While aggression can result in countless adverse consequences, it is something that can be treated. Through the use of behavior modification techniques and various therapeutic interventions, people can learn the coping skills and tools they need to gain control of their thoughts and actions and refrain from acting out on their aggressive tendencies.
Causes of Aggressive Behavior
There can be countless factors that play a role in the development of aggressive behaviors. These factors can include traits that have been inherited as a result of genetics, experiencing various environmental factors, being prescribed certain medications, or suffering from a mental illness. Descriptions of the most commonly cited causes linked to the development of aggressive behaviors are described in the following:
Genetic: Many researchers believe that a genetic component can have an impact on whether or not a person will be susceptible to excessive aggression. Results from a study that was conducted on mice showed that mice who lacked a certain gene acted in a much less aggressive manner than did the mice who did have that gene. Because this gene is also present in human beings, these researchers hypothesize that similar, if not identical, results would be demonstrated in humans.
Environmental: Perhaps one of the most prominent causes of the development of aggressive behaviors can be tied to an individual’s exposure to certain environmental factors. People who grow up in a chaotic home, who are subject abuse, or who witness repeated violence are more likely to act out in aggressive ways than are those who are not exposed to that type of environment.
Medications: Unfortunately, there are a number of medications which have the potential to produce side effects consisting of increased irritability, agitation, nervousness, and anxiety, all of which can potentially lead to feelings of aggression. Additionally, many medications are noted as having the possibility of leading individuals to experience thoughts of suicide, which can result in their beginning to act out aggressively against themselves.
Mental illnesses: Psychological disturbances are believed to be the most common cause of aggressive behaviors. While the symptoms of almost any mental health disorder can lead to the development of aggression as people begin to lose control of their own thoughts, the most predominantly noted disorders believed to produce extreme and unwarranted episodes of aggression include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Substance abuse disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Alzheimer’s disease
Effects of Aggressive Behavior
When aggressive behaviors go unaddressed and remain ignored and untreated, there can be destructive consequences on a person’s life, regardless of his or her age. These consequences can include psychological, social, physical, and legal ramifications, among others. Examples of these effects may include:
- Losing one’s job / prolonged periods of unemployment
- Academic failure / dropping out of school or being expelled from school
- Relationship strain, including the loss of significant others, friends, and other people who were once very important in the individual’s life
- Poor adjustment capabilities
- Decline in one’s health
- Financial difficulties
- Development of substance abuse and addiction
Fortunately, if proper treatment is received, these effects can be avoided.
Treatment for Aggressive Behavior
If you, a family member, or a loved one are participating in excessive acts of aggression, it is imperative that a mental health professional is consulted. By doing so, you will participate in a thorough psychological evaluation that can help start the process of identifying the underlying causes for why these aggressive behaviors are so prominent. Due to the fact that there are such a wide variety of behaviors that can be classified as aggressive, as well as the fact that there can be so many different factors that play a role in the development of these aggressive behaviors, treatment will always be individualized in order to meet the specific needs of each individual.
While there are a number of different treatment options that can be beneficial in treating aggression, the intensity offered in inpatient programs can often be the most effective. When individuals enter an inpatient program, they are first and foremost being placed in an environment that ensures not only their safety, but the safety of those around them as well. When aggressive feelings start to build up and these people begin to feel overwhelmed with the need to act on them, there are mental health professionals immediately available to intervene and work to diffuse the intensity of those feelings. These interventions act as part of helping individuals learn how to control their anger and address their negative feelings in healthy ways. These treatment programs also enforce behavior modification training in which the goal is to assist these people in learning how to change their distorted thinking patterns in order to change the way that they act. Additionally, these programs allow people to explore the various underlying reasons that have impacted the development and expansion of these feelings and behaviors. Through a variety of therapeutic interventions, including group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, and experiential programming, people struggling with the devastating and all-encompassing feelings of aggression can overcome their inner turmoil, gain control of their mind, and begin to rebuild their lives.
Serving Southern Oklahoma and Northern Texas
Our location in North Texas (Wichita Falls) also allows for convenient access to residents of South Oklahoma cities like Duncan & Lawton in addition to nearby Texas cities like Burkburnett. Call the number below to begin the process of recovery.