What is Intermittent Explosive Disorder? What there is to know

Intermittent explosive disorder causes multiple episodes of impulsive aggression that can lead to attacks on people or property. It can also take the form of verbal aggression or temper tantrums.Losing your temper from time to time is part of life. Intermittent explosive disorder is more than that. It’s an impulse control disorder.

Identifying the condition can be tricky. Typically, doctors look for persistent or severe behavior problems that interfere with family life or school activities.

This article covers intermittent explosive disorder in more detail, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What are the symptoms of explosive disorder?

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Intermittent explosive disorder is different from other mental health conditions in one key way. the focus of distress is outward toward others instead of inward toward yourself. It’s a externalizing disorder.

The main symptoms are frequent outbursts of aggression impulsive. The person is unable to control the impulse to react in this way. They become physically or verbally hostile. Between explosive episodes, however, the person’s behavior is regular.

Explosions have the following characteristics:

  • They are based on anger.
  • They cause distress to the person.
  • They disrupt family, school or social life.
  • They are impulsive and unplanned.
  • They do not extend beyond 30 minutes.
  • They are out of proportion with the trigger.

These outbursts can lead to verbal arguments, tantrums, physical assaults, or fights. The external target can be property, animals or other people. He is not self-centered.

Consult a doctor immediately if an explosion endangers an animal or a person.

What causes intermittent explosive disorder?

Intermittent explosive disorder usually starts in late childhood or adolescence. It can continue into adulthood. Like most other mental health problems, the cause is not entirely clear. This probably involves several factorsincluding genetics and environmental influences.

Risk factors for developing intermittent explosive disorder include:

  • having a history of anxiety or bipolar disorder
  • have a history of physical or sexual abuse
  • with low levels of education and employment
  • to be a man
  • be young

How do doctors diagnose intermittent explosive disorder?

It takes a trained mental health professional to diagnose intermittent explosive disorder.

Outbursts can be developmentally normal at certain times in childhood. For example, children under 4 have frequent temper tantrums and teenagers have periods of defiance. These are not examples of intermittent explosive disorder. Nor are the outbursts due to any other mental or physical conditions.

Distinguishing the difference requires knowledge about impulsive disorders.

Mental health professionals use specific standards to diagnose mental health problems. The criteria come from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). the DSM-5 Criteria for Intermittent Explosive Disorder are:

  • recurrent behavioral outbursts that represent a lack of ability to control aggressive impulses and present as:
    • verbal assault or physical assault – but not damage, destruction or assault – to property, animals or people occurring approximately twice a week for 3 months
    • physical assault resulting in damage or destruction of property or assault and injury to animals or people occurring three times in 12 months
  • magnitude of explosions grossly disproportionate to trigger
  • seizures not attributable to another mental health condition (such as psychosis), physical condition (such as head trauma), substance abuse, or adjustment disorder
  • impulsive outbursts that do not involve planning or achieving an outcome
  • results in personal distress, legal or financial consequences, or disruption of work, school, or relationships
  • a chronological age of at least 6 years or developmental equivalent

To rule out other causes, a doctor may order a complete physical and psychological examination.



How to treat intermittent explosive disorder?





Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the main treatment option for intermittent explosive disorder. CBT aims to change thoughts and behaviors related to anger and aggression. It does this by helping people learn to recognize the triggers of anger and aggression. CBT teaches them different ways to react and deal with their triggers.

CBT can also involve parents to help them learn skills to manage their child’s behavior.

In certain cases, doctors may also recommend medication. It depends on the person’s age and other symptoms. the types of drugs that doctors use for intermittent explosive disorder include:

  • antidepressants, such as citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • atypical neuroleptics, such as aripiprazole (Abilify), quetiapine (Seroquel), and risperidone (Risperdal)
  • mood stabilizers, such as topiramate (Topamax) and valproic acid (Depakote)

How to prevent intermittent explosive disorder?

In general, there is no clear way to prevent the development of mental health problems, including intermittent explosive disorder. However, for someone who has this condition, there are steps they can take to help prevent splinters.

One of the first steps is to learn to take responsibility for one’s behavior. It is also important to understand the consequences of this behavior.

Parents and loved ones can help with these strategies by:

  • model appropriate behaviors and responses
  • praising successes when feedback is appropriate
  • set limits
  • emphasize the importance of respecting safety rules
  • use routines

Work with a doctor to develop seizure prevention plans.



If you notice severe or persistent tantrums, make an appointment with a doctor. Shards that interferes with family, social or school relationships should be assessed.

Seek emergency medical attention (call 911) if an explosion injures or endangers animals or other people.

What is the outlook for intermittent explosive disorder?

Treatment can improve a person’s ability to function socially and personally. This can reduce problems at school and at home.

However, there is potential complications associated with intermittent explosive disorder. People with this condition are at higher risk for substance abuse issues, depression, unemployment, and relationship problems.

Intermittent explosive disorder is a form of impulse control disorder. People with the condition cannot control aggressive outbursts, which can be verbal or physical.

Intermittent explosive disorder usually begins in late childhood or adolescence.

Treatment primarily involves CBT to change attitudes and behaviors. It can also include medication.

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