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Is road rage a medical condition? 

Some therapists think so.  They call it "intermittent explosive disorder," and group it with other kinds of angry outbursts that include threats and aggressive actions out of proportion to their cause.

Whether it's a psychiatric illness or just a bad temper, road rage can ruin your journey.  Being on the receiving end of it is unpleasant, but being a perpetrator is dangerous to you and other drivers.  If you tend to drive very aggressively, making rude gestures and honking loudly at others on the road, you may need to get a grip.

Try some of these techniques to stay calm and safe at the wheel: 

  • Get enough sleep.  Fatigue makes most of us irritable and more likely to lose control of our emotions.  Make sure you're taking enough time to get a good night's sleep on a regular basis, and you'll be more relaxed throughout your drive and the rest of your day. 
  • Plan your trip.  A quick trip to the store can trigger a road rage incident if you’re in a rush because you need to get somewhere else in a hurry.  Take a few minutes to figure out how much time you really need, and decide on the route that will get you to your destination with minimal stress. 
  • Listen to relaxing music.  Loud, throbbing rock music can elevate your feelings.  It may not be an actual cause of road rage, but listening to something quiet and calming will probably help you deal with bumps in the road more easily.
  • Loosen up.  Don’t tense your whole body when you drive.  Keep your arms and shoulders loose.  Remember to breathe deeply and evenly to stay focused.

Don’t take things personally.  Other drivers may not drive as fast as you’d like, or don’t hit the gas instantly when the light turns green, but they’re probably not intentionally trying to slow you down.  Keep some perspective on what happens to you on the road, and don’t assume they’re all out to get you.

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