The Neurochemistry and Psychopharmacology of Anger



Work investigating the relationship between neurotransmitter function and anger currently relies on indirect measures, such as levels of metabolites in cerebrospinal fluid, neuroendocrine challenges and monoamine depletion. The evidence from all three types of neurochemical study has supported deficient serotonin as the neurotransmitter most involved in angry aggression and to a lesser extent in the experience of anger itself. Experimental findings also demonstrate that a well-functioning 5-HT system is involved in anger regulation. Psychopharmacology studies support the experimental neurochemical work indicating the importance of individual differences in trait aggression, irrespective of diagnosis, in the experience and display of anger. Serotonergic antidepressants have been shown not only to have positive effects on reducing anger-related emotions but also to increase affiliative or cooperative behaviour. Mood stabilisers and antipsychotics with effects on 5-HT reduce anger and irritability in various patient groups. Selective noradrenergic antidepressants improve negative mood and can also exert pro-social effects but effects on anger per se have not been demonstrated.


Borderline Personality Disorder Personality Disorder Borderline Personality Disorder Acute Tryptophan Depletion Borderline Personality Disorder Patient 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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