Medication for Anger Management and Other Treatment Options - GoodRx (2024)

Key takeaways:

  • Anger is a natural feeling that everyone experiences from time to time. And there are many coping skills and relaxation techniques that you can use to control or manage anger quickly.

  • Sometimes, anger can become concerning or be a symptom of an underlying health condition.

  • If you have trouble managing your anger, connect with a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional. They can help you find ways to manage or redirect your anger — with or without medications.

  • Many medications used for anger treatment are available as lower-cost generic medications. For example, for a 30-day supply of sertraline (Zoloft), a common antidepressant medication, you may be able to pay as low as $7 with GoodRx.

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Table of contents

Best treatment options

Best medications


Anxiety medications



Medications to avoid

Ways to save

Tips to manage anger

Bottom line


Medication for Anger Management and Other Treatment Options - GoodRx (1)

Anger can be a difficult emotion to manage. To some degree, everyone experiences stress and life events that lead to feelings of anger. But what happens when you realize your feelings of anger might be out of the ordinary, or you find yourself unable to manage your anger?

There are several different types of treatments that might help with anger, such as therapy, relaxation techniques, and counseling. Medications are another option to consider when needed, but they’re not always go-to options. You’ll need to talk with your healthcare team to figure out which course of treatment is right for you.

What are the best treatment options for anger

There are many ways to help treat or control anger. It all depends on the person, symptoms, and underlying causes.

In general, medications aren’t top treatment choices for anger, even if it feels overwhelming or frequent. Controlling and managing anger without medication is preferred when possible.

Your primary care provider can tell you about several ways to help control anger without medications. In many cases, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of these recommended tools. CBT helps you focus on your mindfulness and managing your emotions. Other coping skills — like listening to music, deep breathing exercises, and journaling — may also help promote feelings of calm.

However, medications can still help in certain situations. This is especially true if other treatments, such as those mentioned above, aren’t working well enough on their own.

What is the best anger management medication?

It depends. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5), anger isn’t an official diagnosis. Because of this, no medication is approved by the FDA to be used for anger specifically.

So, when it comes to medications for explosive anger or irritability, it’s important to have a conversation with your healthcare team to figure out the cause of your anger and the best treatment option for you.

In many cases, a medication may be prescribed to treat an underlying condition that could be causing anger or irritability, including:

In other cases, depending on your situation, your mental health professional may prescribe you a medication off-label to treat your symptoms.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best medication choices for managing anger.


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Antidepressant medications for anger

Some antidepressants can help treat anger, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are commonly prescribed to treat conditions like depression and anxiety, but they’ve also been used to treat symptoms of anger or irritability.

According to research, SSRIs that help with anger include citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), among others. Sertraline seems to have the most supporting data.

Other classes of antidepressants, like serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), aren’t widely used for treating anger.


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Medication for Anger Management and Other Treatment Options - GoodRx (6)

Anxiety medications for anger

In addition to antidepressants, some anxiety medications may also help treat anger.

Benzodiazepines are a group of anxiety medications that can treat anxiety and agitation in short-term situations. Sometimes, agitation may appear in the form of anger. Alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan) are fast-acting benzodiazepines that can be used to help people calm down, but they shouldn’t be taken long-term for this.

Aside from SSRIs for anxiety, nonbenzodiazepine anxiety medications don’t have as much supporting data for treating anger or agitation. Benzodiazepines can also be habit-forming, and they can even cause anger and aggression in some people.

Antipsychotic medications for anger

Newer antipsychotics — also called atypical antipsychotics — may help with anger or agitation related to certain health conditions. Atypical antipsychotics are also sometimes used to treat agitation in older adults.

We’ll go through a few examples here, but this isn’t an exhaustive list.

Bipolar disorder

Antipsychotics or mood stabilizers are used to treat bipolar disorder, a condition where you have episodes of depression and mania. Many symptoms are possible during a manic episode, including anger or irritability.

Manic episodes are usually treated with a mood stabilizer like lithium, plus an antipsychotic. Antipsychotics used to treat mania include olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), and quetiapine (Seroquel). These medications are sometimes continued after the manic episode is over.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is a behavioral disorder in which children show signs of aggression or severe behavioral problems, lasting for at least a year. Atypical antipsychotics, like risperidone and aripiprazole, are sometimes used to treat DMDD, though these medications can have significant side effects.

Keep in mind that other types of medications and treatments are usually used before trying antipsychotic medications.

Cannabis for anger

It’s not clear whether cannabis helps with anger. In one survey of adults with HIV, many people said they used cannabis to reduce anger. But there’s also evidence that cannabis can cause irritability and hostility in some people, especially in higher or stronger doses.

Make sure to talk with your primary care provider when considering cannabis or other THC-based products. Each of these products have risks, so they can help you weigh the pros and cons. Keep in mind that cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, even though it’s allowed in some states.

Are there medications someone with anger management issues should avoid?

While many medications may help you with anger management, some may worsen it. Make sure your healthcare team has a full list of medications you take so they can see if any medications may be contributing to your symptoms. Here are some common examples:

  • Chantix (varenicline)

  • Singulair (montelukast)

  • Bupropion

  • Keppra (levetiracetam)

  • Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts)

  • Ritalin (methylphenidate)

  • Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)

In addition to medications, excessive alcohol drinking can contribute to anger or violent outbursts. Mixing certain medications with alcohol can also make things worse.

How much do anger medications cost?

The cost of anger medications varies. Fortunately, most of the medications discussed above are available as lower-cost generics. Prices vary by pharmacy and location, but this is what a 30-day supply of common medications tends to look like.


GoodRx price


As low as $5


As low as $2


As low as $7


As low as $12


As low as $10


As low as $10


As low as $8

How to control anger immediately

When you’re angry, it’s good to have a few tools on hand that can help you calm down. Being able to calm down quickly can help you handle the situation as well as possible and keep you from saying or doing things you might regret.

Here are some tips that can help you control your anger in the moment:

  • Try a few deep breaths. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold for a few seconds, then exhale. Repeat this a few times to help your body calm down. Deep breathing can help to clear your head, and also helps you move away from “fight or flight” mode.

  • Relax your muscles. Start at your head, and travel to your feet — relaxing your muscles as much as possible along the way. This can help you physically let go of anger and tension in your body.

  • Count to 10. Before you act, give yourself time to count slowly to 10. Taking a pause can give you more control over how you react to your feelings of anger.

  • Take a break. If possible, step away from the situation for a moment. Go to another room, or excuse yourself to use the bathroom. This can give you some personal time to collect yourself.

  • Move your body. A short burst of exercise can help your anger go away. Consider taking a quick walk, or doing some jumping jacks or push-ups.

  • Use visualization. Take a few minutes to close your eyes, and imagine yourself in a peaceful and happy place.

  • Use humor. A joke can go a long way when you’re feeling angry. Try to find some humor in the situation, or give yourself a few minutes to look at funny pictures or memes online.

  • Be kind to yourself. Try to use positive self-talk when you’re angry. Remember that everyone gets angry from time to time, and this feeling will pass. You can’t control your feelings, but you can control your actions.

Remember, it’s important to find strategies that are a good fit for you. Try a few until you find which options work the best. If you’re working with a therapist, they can also help you learn strategies for managing anger immediately.

The bottom line

Certain life events can naturally cause anger, but it can also be a symptom of certain health conditions or other situations. Talk with your healthcare team if you have trouble managing your anger. Medications aren’t generally preferred for anger, but they can come in handy when other treatments haven’t worked. Common medication classes are antidepressants, anxiety medications, and antipsychotics.


Albrecht, B., et al. (2014). Benzodiazepine use and aggressive behaviour: A systematic review. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

American Psychiatric Association. (n.d.). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR).

View All References (14)


American Psychological Association. (2011). Strategies for controlling your anger: Keeping anger in check.

American Psychological Association. (2023). Control anger before it controls you.

Amore, M., et al. (2021). Treatment of agitation with lorazepam in clinical practice: A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Ansell, E. H., et al. (2015). Effects of marijuana use on impulsivity and hostility in daily life. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Bounds, C. G., et al. (2024). Benzodiazepines. StatPearls.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Anger.

Fernandez, E., et al. (2016). Anger in psychological disorders: Prevalence, presentation, etiology, and prognostic implications. Clinical Psychology Review.

Loy, J. H., et al. (2017). Atypical antipsychotics for disruptive behaviour disorders in children and youths. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2023). Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. National Institutes of Health.

Romero-Martínez, A., et al. (2019). Is sertraline a good pharmacological strategy to control anger? Results of a systematic review. Behavioral Sciences.

Sajdeya, R., et al. (2021). Reasons for marijuana use and its perceived effectiveness in therapeutic and recreational marijuana users among people living with HIV in Florida. Cannabis.

University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy. (2020). Patient safety: Aggression, irritability, and violence: drug-induced behaviors.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). FDA requiring boxed warning updated to improve safe use of benzodiazepine drug class.

Willner, K., et al. (2022). Atypical antipsychotic agents. StatPearls.

GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

For additional resources or to connect with mental health services in your area, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357. For immediate assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or text HOME to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

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Medication for Anger Management and Other Treatment Options - GoodRx (2024)


What medication is used for anger management? ›

According to research, SSRIs that help with anger include citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), among others. Sertraline seems to have the most supporting data. Other classes of antidepressants, like serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), aren't widely used for treating anger.

What is the best treatment for anger management? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is often the treatment of choice for anger management. 1 Engle says that it can help you understand your triggers for anger, develop and practice coping skills, and think, feel, and behave differently in response to anger, so you are calmer and more in control.

What are the 3 R's of anger management? ›

Introducing effective strategies to implement the 3 R's of Anger – Recognize, Reflect, and Respond – can significantly enhance our ability to manage anger healthily and constructively.

What emotion is behind anger? ›

Typically, one of the primary emotions, like fear or sadness, can be found underneath the anger. Fear includes things like anxiety and worry, and sadness comes from the experience of loss, disappointment or discouragement.

Is there medication for explosive anger? ›

Different types of medicines may help in the treatment of intermittent explosive disorder. These may include certain antidepressants — usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Anticonvulsant mood stabilizers or other medicines may be used if needed.

What medication is used for bipolar anger? ›

You'll typically need mood-stabilizing medication to control episodes of mania or hypomania, which is a less severe form of mania. Examples of mood stabilizers include lithium (Lithobid), valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex sodium (Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro, others) and lamotrigine (Lamictal).

What is the best psychological treatment for anger? ›

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is highly structured short-term talking therapy. It examines how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours affect each other. It also aims to teach you practical skills to change this. CBT is the most commonly offered talking therapy on the NHS.

Are anger issues a mental illness? ›

For some people, anger results from an underlying disorder, such as alcoholism or depression. Anger itself isn't considered a disorder, but anger is a known symptom of several mental health conditions.

What is the best therapy for anger and anxiety? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

This type of therapy may also be helpful in treating anger that's caused by emotional trauma. If you have a loved one with anger issues, CBT may also help you learn how to cope with these types of situations.

What are the 4 roots of anger? ›

4 most common roots of anger
  • Root #1 — Blame & Shame.
  • Root #2 — Pride.
  • Root #3 — Insecurity.
  • Root #4 — Dreams Deferred or Denied.
Jan 28, 2020

What are the 7 steps to defuse anger? ›

7 steps of anger management
  • Identify your triggers. Make note of situations or things that tend to trigger your anger. ...
  • Understand the root of the emotion. ...
  • Take a moment to pause before acting. ...
  • Think about the consequences. ...
  • Learn how to calm yourself down. ...
  • Find healthy ways to express your anger. ...
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Oct 6, 2022

What are the 4 stages of anger? ›

The 4 Stages of Anger. Anger is an emotion with various levels of intensity. It is a feeling that consists of annoyance, displeasure, aggravation, and hostility.

What is anger telling you? ›

Anger Can Be a Necessary and Useful Emotion:

In doing so anger makes it clear to us who we are. It tells us for example if our space has been invaded, if our freedom has been squashed, if our pride has been injured, if the way we see the world has been invalidated, or if our feelings have been ignored.

What hormone is released when angry? ›

Anger triggers the body's 'fight or flight' response. Other emotions that trigger this response include fear, excitement and anxiety. The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

What is underneath anger? ›

Beneath the surface of anger lie primary emotions that drive this secondary reaction. These underlying emotions can include hurt, fear, frustration, sadness, or vulnerability. It's often challenging to tap into these emotions because society often encourages us to suppress or deny them.

Does Adderall help with anger? ›

Many people who take Adderall to manage ADHD symptoms find it helpful. However, for some, Adderall can increase irritability or anger.

What helps with anger issues? ›

Manage anger in the long term
  • exercise regularly – activities like yoga, walking, swimming and running can reduce stress.
  • make sure you get enough sleep.
  • make time to relax.
  • try creative activities like writing, making music, dancing or painting to release tension.
Jan 4, 2023

Does Lexapro help with anger and irritability? ›

Escitalopram is used for depression, generalised anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. Escitalopram is sometimes used for people who have behaviour problems. For example, it could… • help if you are anxious • help calm you down • help you feel less angry • help you feel less tense.


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