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Is Aggression A Mental Disorder?

Is Aggression A Mental Disorder?

Have you been asking: is aggression a mental disorder? We look at the causes of aggression and if aggression is a symptom of psychiatric disorder.

Understanding Aggression

Aggression is a term used to describe any behavior interpreted as being harmful, including acts such as violence, physical injury, and verbal abuse. Aggression can be directed towards inanimate objects, animals, and other people.

What Is The Main Cause Of Aggressive Behavior?
What Is The Main Cause Of Aggressive Behavior?

There are two main types of aggression:

Hostile or Physical Aggression

Hostile / Physical aggression is the act of physically harming others.

It is commonly associated with an intent to cause harm, such as when a person hits another in anger or when their intention to hurt someone is clear.

It can also be used as a defense mechanism, especially in cases of self-defense. This type of aggression involves things like hitting, kicking, slapping, biting, stabbing, and so on.

Emotional or Relational Aggression

Emotional or Relational aggression is the damage done to someone’s self-esteem, social status, or relationships. Bullying and teasing are common examples of emotional aggression.

Whatever type of aggression you display, it is crucial to know that it is not acceptable and that you must control it to avoid harming people or objects. Aggression can be picked up early in life, and learned from others.

It is also more common and often linked to the development of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety disorders, and antisocial behavior in adolescents and adults. The good news is that there are treatment options available, and it is recommended that people seek the help of professionals.

Symptoms of Aggression

Aggression has a number of different signs and symptoms associated with it like anger, hostility, or rage.

As humans, we are all prone to the occasional outburst of anger, the stress of daily life, or even a sense of boredom. However, there are some things we do that are more than just a little upsetting.

When someone displays aggressive behavior, there are some tell-tale signs that can be looked out for. Sometimes, a person’s word choice or tone of voice will tell you if they are actually angry.

For example, if someone says that you’re “crazy” or calls you names as a put-down, chances are they’re displaying aggression.

Also, a sudden change of personality can be a sign of aggression. If your friend becomes more possessive, distant, or starts telling you what to do without a good reason, it might be a result of an aggressive attitude.

Another sign of aggression is physical discomfort. If your friend is clenching their fists or arms or is strangely looking at you, this may indicate that they are upset with you.

Aggression Causes

It is important to consider the person’s history when dealing with aggression. Aggression is not always a conscious choice. It may be caused by a number of underlying issues. These may include;

Psychiatric Causes

Aggression may showcase as a psychotic disorder when a person presents delusional, paranoid, and/or schizoid behavior.

Often the person involved experiences hallucinations, a break with reality, delusions, thought disorder, and poor insight in relation to the aggressive behavior.

Neurologic Causes

When a person has neurologic-related aggression, the brain is often damaged or deficient. This causes the person to behave in an aggressive manner. It may present itself through;

Dementia: Loss of memory can cause aggressive behavior due to the fact the person may not remember that they are engaging in aggression at all.

Brain Lesions: It can be physical or structural damage in a part of the brain. These can cause the person to behave carelessly and display a lack of inhibition when it comes to interacting with people.

Autoimmune: This can cause aggression as the person has an altered immune system, and this can result in various diseases. This is also a reason why people can appear aggressive when they are not really acting aggressively at all.

Systemic Causes

Systemic causes of aggression can be summarized into;

Poor Metabolic: If a person does not eat well, they may end up with a host of other problems including aggressive behavior.

Blood loss: If a person is anemic and has not been tested for it, they may be experiencing blood loss and depleted blood cells. This can cause the person to have aggressive tendencies due to the fact their blood has low levels of oxygen.

Drugs and Substance abuse: Drugs may lead to aggression due to changes in the brain’s chemical system and its ability to regulate aggression.

Environmental exposure: Exposure to adverse environmental factors may cause someone to display aggressive behavior.

Aggression as a symptom of Psychiatric Disorder

Aggression is a common symptom of several psychiatric illnesses. These include; Tourette’s disorder, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Antisocial personality disorder, Borderline personality disorder, alcohol and drug dependence, and Conduct Disorder.

In addition, epileptic patients and some diabetic patients can display aggression as a symptom. As such, physicians must rule out possible conditions such as hypoglycemia, insulin shock, and epilepsy before referring the patient to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Aggressive Behavior in Mental Illness

Severely ill mental patients can exhibit aggressive behavior. Having a mental illness can make it tough to express emotions, and people with mental illness may turn to violence to express their emotions rather than telling someone how they feel.

In addition, patients with mental illnesses tend to want more control in their lives and take it out on others. This can be caused by the feeling of helplessness associated with a mental illness, along with the feeling that one’s life is not in their own control.

Aggression can lead to prolonged psychiatric hospitalization as well as placing significant stress on family members, colleagues, and loved ones.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)

This condition is characterized by a pattern of “explosive outbursts” that are disproportionate to the situation and cause impairment in social or occupational functioning.

This type of aggressive behavior is found in children and adults, where it is characterized as an extreme reaction to a minor provocation and is usually not premeditated.

Aggressive acts tend to induce a feeling of relief, or diminished negative emotion, in the offending person. The aggressive act is often followed by a reduction in tension and distress rather than an increase in distress, as is typical of many other forms of aggression.


We hope this article was able to answer your questions about: Is aggression a mental disorder?

If you want to discover more information about managing aggressive behaviour, follow the link to our other pages on this topic.