San Jose Behavioral Health helps individuals struggling with aggression build a strong foundation for healing and recovery. Located in the heart of San Jose, our state of the art hospital is the leading provider of mental and behavioral health treatment for adults and adolescents.
Learn More About Aggression Treatment & Recovery at San Jose
Aggression is intentional behavior that is often readily visible though violent, destructive, or hostile actions. In some cases, aggression may be more hidden, as in social aggression, emotional bullying or other manipulative actions. Physical aggression can be destructive or painful, while emotional or verbal aggression can cause discomfort, angst, or isolation for victims.
There are many causes of aggression. Aggressive behavior or an aggressive attitude is not a mental health disorder, but it may be a symptom of a mental health disorder or substance abuse issue in some cases. Mental health disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, or even psychotic disorders all can include some type of aggressive behavior at times. Substance use disorders, particularly use of alcohol or stimulants, may increase aggressive behavior also.
Aggressive behavior that continues for long periods of time, or that becomes constant, can lead to a number of life problems. Trouble with the legal system, damaged relationships, work or school problems, and even financial difficulties may all be directly or indirectly caused by untreated aggression.
Fortunately, individuals who suffer from aggression may receive help. Effective, evidence-based counseling and mental health solutions are available for many of the causes of aggression. The correct treatment can help individuals find new ways of experiencing life and ways to overcome aggressive impulses. Our inpatient treatment center with a dedicated care team gives individuals the time to take a closer look at the underlying causes behind aggression and implement treatment that works.
Causes and Risk Factors of Aggression
Aggression does not have a single cause; therefore, it is important to take a close look at the individual who is behaving aggressively and understand the full picture of his or her genetic background, life circumstances, and overall physical health. In some cases, aggression may become worse during stressful times or with lowered coping skills. Some risk factors for aggression may be:
Genetic: There are many genetic and physiological risk factors for aggressive behavior. Risk factors are not direct causes of aggression, but they may increase an individual’s chances of becoming chronically aggressive. Specific groups of genes have been linked to aggressive behavior, which may cause tendencies toward aggression to run in families. In other cases, repeated concussions, brain injury, or illness may contribute to aggression levels. Similarly, hormone levels and chemical imbalances can be linked to aggression.
Environmental: Individuals may be more likely to be aggressive under a number of different environmental conditions. Children who experience abuse or violence are more likely to grow up to become aggressive. Ongoing, or sometimes even single-incident trauma, particularly during childhood, may cause the individual to be more aggressive. Furthermore, individuals who lack strong coping skills, lack a supportive network, or have a high level of stress are at an increased risk for becoming aggressive.
Substances and medications: Any changes in an individual’s behavior may be linked to chemical changes within the body. For instance, stimulant medications may cause a person to make reactive decisions or become quickly angry. Unintended side effects of physician-prescribed medications may also increase these behaviors. Alcohol or drug abuse, and even drug withdrawal, may increase aggression.
Mental health disorders: Aggression can be a symptom of an underlying mental health disorder. Certain mental health conditions may increase the risk for aggression, and treatment for those conditions can help soothe aggressive behavior. Some of these mental health diagnoses include:
- Alzheimer’s disease and similar neurocognitive disorders
- Substance Use Disorders
- Intermittent explosive disorder (IED)
- Borderline, narcissistic, antisocial, or paranoid personality disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma or stress related disorders
- Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia spectrum disorders
Signs and Symptoms of Aggression
Aggression generally comes in two forms: Instrumental aggression and affective aggression. All types of aggression can lead to negative effects if treatment is not found. These types of aggression include the following symptoms:
Instrumental Aggression: Instrumental aggression includes some type of pre-planning or premeditation. Before a person acts aggressively, he or she puts some level of pre-planning or premeditation into the act. There is often a delayed impact, or effect, of this type of aggression. Sometimes it is known as predatory or goal-oriented aggression. Some examples of instrumental aggression include:
- Spreading rumors or gossiping
- Online harassment
- Bullying or teasing
- Indirect, or passive aggressive comments in front of other people
- Excluding others
- Pre-planned damage to property
- Controlled manipulation of something important to another person, such as personal finances
Affective Aggression: Affective aggression is the result of immediate anger and does not involve pre-planning. It occurs when a person immediately inflicts damage or harm to people, animals, or things. It is often emotional and impulsive in nature. Some examples of affective aggression include:
- Shoving, pushing, or tripping others
- Hitting, slapping, punching, grasping, pinching, or shaking another person or animal
- Name-calling or yelling in reaction to anger
- Punching walls or other objects suddenly
- Road rage or hostility while operating machinery
- Stabbing, shooting, or assaulting others
- Engaging in violent criminal behavior
- Making threats of violence
- Unplanned destruction of property, often performed in a rage
Individuals who display aggression may engage in both affective and instrumental aggression. For instance, in a domestic violence situation, an individual may engage in instrumental aggression by manipulating a partner’s finances or online privacy, by stalking a partner, or by threatening a partner. That person may also suddenly assault or harm his or her partner in a display of affective aggression.
Aggression may vary from person to person and situation to situation. Therefore, it is important to take any type of aggression seriously and seek treatment as soon as possible.
Effects of Aggression
Aggression can lead to a number of problems for the aggressive individual and his or her loved ones. Continual aggression can impact a person’s career, home life, and many other areas of his or her life. Some of the devastating effects of untreated aggression include:
- Loss of employment
- Loss of relationships or relationship strain
- Financial strain or poverty
- Injury from fights or destruction of objects
- Isolation and social withdrawal
- Aggravated symptoms of a pre-existing mental health disorder
- Lowered performance in work or school
- Struggles with the legal system, including jail sentences or fines
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Substance use problems
Treatment for Aggression
A life of conflict and unhappiness may await the person who does not treat active aggression before it is too late. Loved ones can be pushed away by aggressive behavior, employment can become difficult, and chronic aggression can lead to a life of loneliness and unhappiness.
When looking for agression treatment, you or your loved one may have been searching broadly for “mental health rehab centers near me?” In San Jose, CA, there is only one clear choice. Our inpatient treatment center is the best option to help individuals understand and cope with behaviors and the underlying causes of those behaviors. Support for families through family counseling is also helpful. It is very important to uncover the deeper causes of aggression in order to properly treat and eliminate the issue completely.
Lasting changes are possible once individuals learn to identify the triggers of anger, gain new coping skills, or treat the underlying imbalances that prevent a peaceful life. No matter how severe aggression has become, it is possible to recover and make repairs in one’s life. Inpatient treatment offers individualized care and evidence-based support to help any individual create a more peaceful life.