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Sudden and unexplained rage may be sign of intermittent explosive disorder

11-18 | DTC Team

Sudden and unexplained rage may be sign of intermittent explosive disorder

At times, an individual is unable to resist aggressive impulses which may result in serious assaults. This is so because the person might be suffering from intermittent explosive disorder (IED), an impulse-controlled disorder where individuals experience sudden episodes of aggressive behavior or angry outbursts.

Individuals experiencing the disorder describe the feeling as a loss of control of emotions. Some of the common signs of the disorder include threatening, domestic abuse, breaking objects and road rage.

The spell or attack of IED is usually preceded by a sense of tension. An individual suffering an outburst may regret or feel embarrassed after the incident. The disorder may lead to anxiety, depression and substance use disorders. This disorder can continue for years and its treatment involves a combination of medications and psychotherapy.

Symptoms, causes and effects of IED

In individuals suffering from IED, episodes of eruptions occur suddenly and often last less than 30 minutes. The explosive episodes can occur frequently or can be separated by days of non-aggressive behavior. An aggressive episode may be preceded or accompanied by several signs, including irritability, anger, tremors and palpitations. An explosive outburst may blow out of proportion and can lead to physical aggression, shouting, property damage and heated arguments.

Some of the common symptoms of IED are:

  • Behavioral symptoms: Physical aggressiveness, verbal aggressiveness, road rage and angry outbursts
  • Physical symptoms: Tremors, headaches, muscle tension and palpitations
  • Psychological symptoms: Anger, irritability and emotional detachment

As the exact cause of IED is not known, it can be attributed to a combination of biological and environmental factors.

Environmental factors: Children exposed to violent behavior and physical abuse at home are more likely to develop IED as they grew older. Children experiencing severe physical punishment during their childhood may also find relief by putting others through physical pain.

Biological factors: The disorder may pass from parents to children. Children of individuals suffering from the disorder are more likely to develop the disorder themselves. Research has suggested that IED may occur due to abnormalities in the area of the brain that regulate arousal and inhibition.

Treatment through medication and psychotherapy

Individuals suffering from IED can experience disastrous consequences in their lives. An untreated IED may result in substance addiction, suicidal thoughts, self-harm or legal troubles.

Treatment for IED focuses on controlling the symptoms of anger and improving a person’s life. While diagnosing an individual for IED, a medical health professional needs to eliminate any other mental disorders and physical conditions experienced by the individual.

Medications: Medications for treating IED may include certain antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety medications or other drugs.

Psychotherapy: Therapy sessions, including individual, group, and cognitive behavioral therapies, can help identify the triggers causing violent outbursts and assist in developing treatment programs for patients.

  • Individual therapy: Individual therapy sessions help patients gain control of their thoughts and behaviors. It also helps the therapist discover underlying conditions that may trigger the violent behavior.
  • Group therapy: It focuses on anger management and relaxation techniques. It helps patients connect with peers suffering from the same disorder who can further assist them complete the treatment program and offer peer support during the recovery phase.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): It helps patients focus on their thought patterns and behavior. It helps patients identify the trigger conditions or circumstances responsible for the onset of explosive behavior.

Help at hand

If not diagnosed and treated on time, IED can affect a person’s social, professional and personal relationships. It can also result in increased hospital admissions due to injuries sustained during physical aggression. When diagnosed, IED can be managed effectively by a combination of medications and psychotherapy sessions under the guidance of a medical health specialist.

If you or your loved is suffering from IED or any kind of mental disorder, it is time to seek professional support. Contact the Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado to find the center offering depression treatment in Colorado. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-427-5668 or chat online with our mental health experts to find the best depression treatment centers in Colorado.

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