PTSD, Anger, and Aggression: Epidemiology, Etiology and Clinical Practice

  • Jan RodenburgEmail author
  • Lieke Heesink
  • Boris Drožđek
Reference work entry


Anger and aggression are common phenomena in PTSD, with many negative consequences as reduced physical health and poor family functioning. When PTSD is accompanied by anger and aggression, treatment outcome is worse. Anger and aggression itself are difficult conditions to treat. Given the negative consequences of anger and aggression, it is important to gain knowledge regarding the etiology of the complaints. The original focus on PTSD as an anxiety disorder is extended to emotion regulation, including anger and aggression. That is illustrated by the growing amount of research into the etiology of PTSD and the role of other stress responses to trauma, especially that of anger and aggression in PTSD. Anger and aggression seem to be related to the hyperarousal symptoms in PTSD, involving a lowered threshold for threat. Biologically, the close link between PTSD, anger, and aggression can be found in brain regions that regulate aggression, hyperarousal, and anxiety. Furthermore, the role of rumination, visual imagery, and language processing will be discussed, as well as treatment directions.


Anger Hostility Aggression Rumination Repetitive thinking Impulsive aggression Alexithymia Visual imagery Neurobiology Anger treatment Moral injury 

List of Abbreviations


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (of Mental Disorders)


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (of Mental Disorders)


Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid


Prefrontal Cortex


Medial Prefrontal Cortex


Magnetic Resonance Imaging


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Rodenburg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lieke Heesink
    • 2
    • 3
  • Boris Drožđek
    • 4
  1. 1.Reinier van ArkelPsychotrauma Center South Netherlands‘s HertogenboschThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Research Center Military Mental Health CareDutch Ministry of DefenceUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.University Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Psychotrauma Centrum Zuid Nederland, Reinier van ArkelDen BoschThe Netherlands

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