Understanding intermittent explosive disorder

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Understanding intermittent explosive disorder



Intermittent explosive disorder falls in the category of impulse control disorders. The condition is characterized by failure to resist aggressive impulses, resulting in serious assaults, property destruction, or frequent threatening to or actually hurting another person and purposefully breaking or damaging an object of value. Psychology Today also mentioned that the inability to resist aggressive urges could be an indication of the intermittent explosive disorder. People who suffer from this disorder often damage property or assault others, and react in ways that are entirely out of proportion to the provocation. Likewise, Mayo Clinic also added that “intermittent explosive disorder involves repeated, sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior, or angry verbal outbursts in which the patient will grossly reach a lash out of proportion to the situation.”


It is a chronic disorder that will continue in the patient’s life for years but experts believe that as the person matures, his/her rage will decrease over time. Moreover, in a web article posted by Better Help, they mentioned that “the episodes of rage which are experienced by the person who has intermittent explosive behavior are not planned but these are spontaneous reactions to something that might trigger their aggressive behavior. This will develop as the result of a change in mood or perceived state of tension.” The episodes of rage in a person who has intermittent explosive disorder could last for a brief period which lasts no longer than an hour.


What are the criteria for Intermittent explosive disorder?


Most people feel angry because of different reasons. Whether it is a small or a big thing, it is a valid emotion and people shouldn’t suppress it, but they should learn how they would manage it in order for them not to hurt other people or themselves. However, there is a thin fine line that defines whether the person is just having a normal feeling of anger or they are having a disproportionate amount of rage towards the situation. Impulsive aggression is not premeditated and is defined by disproportionate reactions to any provocation, real, or perceived. The disorder is currently categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM-5) which is under the “DIsruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders”.


According to a website called behavenet.com, the criteria for Intermittent Explosive Disorder include:



A. Several discrete episodes of failure to resist aggressive impulses that result in serious assaultive acts or destruction of property.

B. The degree of aggressiveness expressed during the episodes is grossly out of proportion to any precipitating psychosocial stressors.

C. The aggressive episodes are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, a Psychotic Disorder, a Manic Episode, Conduct Disorder, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., head trauma, Alzheimer's disease).


Substance use disorders are also associated with increased aggression and are frequently connected with the intermittent explosive disorder, which makes it hard for psychiatric experts to diagnose the disorder easily. Moreover, people who have intermittent explosive disorders are more likely to develop depressive or anxiety disorders, and three times more likely to develop substance use disorders. Some behavior disorder like bipolar disorder has been linked to increased agitation and aggressive behavior in some individuals, but for people who have bipolar disorder, aggressiveness is limited to manic and/or depressive episodes, whereas individuals with intermittent explosive disorder experience aggressive behavior even during periods with a neutral or positive mood.


Treatment for intermittent explosive disorder and aggression

In a web post by unforgettable.org, they mentioned that dealing with aggressive behavior could be really tricky and requires a long patience since hostile and violent behavior could hurt others but, once other people try to understand and accept their condition, they could make sense of the aggressive behavior and learn how they would respond to it without causing any trouble with the patient.


Unforgettabe.org also suggest that people who might encounter someone with an intermittent explosive disorder should try to stay calm. Responding with an angry or defensive behavior could trigger the person who suffers from an intermittent explosive disorder. Normal people should understand that it is a condition which is also making hard for the person with an intermittent explosive disorder to socialize with other people especially when they are having their episodes of rage. In order for the normal people to understand them, it is advisable to look into the perception of the person with an intermittent explosive disorder.


Behavioral experts also advise seeking professional help in order for the patient to undergo both cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotropic medication regimes, though the pharmaceutical options have shown limited success. There are also therapy aids which could help the patient to recognize the impulses in hopes of achieving a level of awareness and control of the outbursts, along with treating the emotional stress which accompanies these episodes.




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