What is aggression?

Aggression is a behavior characterized by strong self-assertion with hostile or harmful tones. Under some circumstances, aggression may be a normal reaction to a threat. Alternatively, it may be abnormal, unprovoked or reactive behavior (intermittent explosive disorder). Anger, confusion, discomfort, fear, overstimulation and tiredness can lead to aggressive reactions.

Aggressive behaviors may be directed at oneself, at others, at animals, or at property. They can be verbal or physical. They can be premeditated and goal-oriented or impulsive. They can be direct or indirect, overt or covert.

Aggression is a potential symptom of diseases, disorders or conditions that interfere with thought processes, such as brain tumors, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and a number of personality disorders. Although specific causes of aggression are not known, some studies have shown that abnormal brain chemistry or structural changes may play a role. Environment and genetics also seem to be involved.

Aggressive behaviors can lead to academic, employment, financial, legal and relationship problems. Associated actions may result in incarceration or hospitalization. The success of rehabilitation and treatment depends on the underlying cause of the aggression.

Aggression can have serious, even life-threating, complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious injury; or threatening, irrational or suicidal behavior.

If your aggression is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with aggression?

Aggression may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Conditions that frequently affect behavior may also have other psychological, cognitive or physical symptoms.

Psychological and cognitive symptoms that may occur along with aggression

Aggression may accompany other psychological or cognitive symptoms including:<... Read more about aggressionsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes aggression?

Although specific causes of aggression are not known, some studies have shown that abnormal brain chemistry or structural changes may play a role. Environment and genetics also seem to be involved. Aggression is a potential symptom of diseases, disorders or conditions that interfere with thought processes, such as dementia, post-traumatic Read more about aggressioncauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mental Health and Behavior