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Intermittent Explosive Disorder

What is Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

An individual who suffers from Intermittent Explosive Disorder expresses repeated and sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent or angry behavior. In turn, such behavior may cause an individual to have significant distress in their relationships, work, school, and may even end up having legal and financial consequences.

What are the symptoms of Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

The sudden explosive eruptions occur suddenly with little or no warning and tend to last about 30 minutes. In addition, although these behaviors may occur frequently, they can also occur every couple of months or weeks.

Less severe outbursts may involve:

  • An individual may be irritable
  • Impulsive
  • Aggressive
  • An individual may be chronically angry most of the time

The aggressive episodes may involve the following:

  • Rage
  • An individual may have an increased amount of energy
  • An individual experiences racing thoughts
  • Tingling
  • Tremors
  • Palpitations
  • An individual may also experience chest tightening
  • Temper tantrums
  • Tirades
  • An individual may engage in physical fights
  • An individual may be shouting
  • An individual may get involved in heated arguments
  • An individual may get involved in slapping, shoving, or pushing
  • An individual may cause property damage
  • The individual may threaten or assault people or animals

What causes Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

Although the cause is not known, experts believe that the development of such disorder is influenced by biological and environmental factors. Furthermore, the following may increase the chances of developing such disorder:

  • History of physical abuse
    • An individual who may have experienced a traumatic event or were abused in childhood, are at higher risk of developing such disorder
  • History of other mental health issues
    • Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder or ADHD for example, can increase the likelihood of developing such disorder

How is Intermittent Explosive Disorder treated?

  • Psychotherapy
    • A common type of therapy used to treat such disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
      • Helps an individual identify what types of situations and behaviors may trigger their aggressive outbursts
      • An individual will learn different ways of managing anger and control their inappropriate responses
    • Medication
      • Antidepressants
      • Anticonvulsant Mood Stabilizers

How can I cope with Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

  • Stick to your treatment plan
    • Take your medications and attend therapy as instructed
  • Engage in relaxation techniques
  • Develop new ways of thinking
    • Think of a more reasonable and logical way
  • Make use of your problem-solving techniques
    • Make a plan on how you can solve any problem that arises
  • Avoid mood-altering substance
    • Alcohol and drugs for example

If you notice that your loved one does not want to get help, or that their symptoms are getting worse, consider taking the following steps:

  • Call a domestic violence hotline
  • Keep all firearms locked or away from the individual
  • Ensure that you have an emergency bag
    • Keys, clothes, personal medications, money, and important papers.
  • Come up with a code with your loved ones for example, that you can use to signal that you are in need of police assistance and that they should call