Located in LaPlace, Louisiana, River Place Behavioral Health Hospital is a state-of-the-art aggression treatment center serving the greater New Orleans metropolitan area.
Learn More About Aggression Treatment at River Place Behavioral Health Hospital
Aggression is a widely used term that describes a form of behavior that can vary significantly in intensity. For example, even a developmentally appropriate skirmish between two children of the same age might be deemed aggressive if it escalates. But it should be noted that anger and aggression are very different, and while it’s normal and healthy to experience anger from time to time, the presence of ongoing aggression may indicate that you are struggling with a mental health condition that may require professional help to overcome.
From a clinical perspective, aggressive behavior typically indicates the presence of intentionally hostile actions that are designed to do physical or emotional harm to a victim. Aggression can take many forms and results in serious damage to the victim’s health, safety, and/or property. Some forms of aggression are more blatant and can include acts of physical violence and other destructive actions. However, some forms of aggression are more subtle, such as threats, intimidation, stalking, emotional abuse, verbal attacks, bullying, and more.
Aggression that continues for long periods of time usually escalates in severity, causing more and more damage to the lives of those affected by the behavior. There are numerous negative consequences that can result from aggression, but fortunately, with professional help, you can stop the cycle of aggressive behavior in your life. Inpatient treatment for aggression can assist you or a loved one in uncovering the root cause of the problematic behavior, and can help you develop new, healthier ways of communicating and coping with stress.
Causes of Aggression
There is no single factor that can determine if someone will engage in aggressive behaviors as each person’s life experiences and ability to tolerate stress will differ. However, researchers and clinicians have identified a few risk factors that seem to indicate a greater likelihood that a person will struggle with aggression.
Genetics and Physiology: 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: Ongoing, or sometimes even single-incident trauma, violence, and/or abuse, particularly during childhood, may cause an individual to be more aggressive. Also, individuals who lack strong coping skills, do not have a supportive network, or have a high level of stress are at an increased risk for becoming aggressive.
Substances and medications: 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 angry quickly. Unintended side effects of physician-prescribed medications, alcohol or drug abuse, and even drug withdrawal, may also increase these behaviors.
Mental health disorders: Certain mental health conditions may increase the risk for aggression, and treatment for those conditions can help alleviate aggressive behavior. Some of these mental health diagnoses include:
- Alzheimer's disease and similar neurocognitive disorders
- Substance use disorders
- Borderline, narcissistic, antisocial, or paranoid personality disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Intermittent explosive disorder (IED)
- 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, both of which are explained below.
Instrumental aggression: Instrumental aggression includes some type of pre-planning or premeditation, and there is often a delayed impact, or effect, with this type of aggression. Some examples of instrumental aggression include:
- Indirect or passive-aggressive comments made in front of other people
- Excluding others
- Pre-planned damage to property
- Controlled manipulation of something important to another person, such as personal finances
- Spreading rumors or gossiping
- Online harassment
- Bullying or teasing
Affective aggression: Affective aggression stems from immediate anger and does not involve premeditation. Impulsive in nature, it occurs when a person immediately inflicts damage or harm to people, animals, or things. Some examples of affective aggression include:
- 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
- Shoving, pushing, or tripping others
- Hitting, slapping, punching, grasping, pinching, or shaking another person or animal
- Name-calling or yelling in reaction to anger
- Unplanned destruction of property, often performed in a rage
Aggressive behavior will vary from person to person and situation to situation, and individuals may engage in both affective and instrumental aggression. If you or a loved one begins showing signs of aggression in any form, it’s imperative to take it seriously and seek treatment as soon as possible.
Effects of Aggression
No matter the form, aggressive behavior can lead to a host of negative outcomes for perpetrators, their victims, and their loved ones. Left untreated, aggression can lead to:
- Loss of employment
- Loss of relationships or relationship strain
- 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
- Financial strain or poverty
- Injury from fights or destruction of objects
- Isolation and social withdrawal
Treatment for Aggression
If you’ve been struggling to control your aggressive behavior, there is little doubt you’ve already dealt with some of the negative outcomes that are listed above. You may be worried what will happen to you or a loved one if these behaviors continue, but you may not be sure where to turn for help. Sometimes, aggression can lead to the loss of important relationships, leaving the aggressor without a support network. If this is the case for you, please know that you are not alone, and that help is available. With the support of a comprehensive, inpatient treatment program, you can work toward understanding the root of your aggression, learn new, healthy behaviors and coping tools, and get your life back on track.