What Is Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

What Is Intermittent Explosive Disorder?Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) is categorized as a type of Impulse-Control Disorder where the person is unable to control his aggressive impulses. IED is characterized by recurring episodes of intense aggression or rage that results in harm towards others or damage towards personal property. A person struggling with IED will threaten or carry out a violent act towards others and may even harm himself in the process. There are many different signs that may indicate IED, including the following:

  • Violent behavior or excessive verbal outbursts that are severely disproportionate to the situation
  • Recurring episodes of road rage
  • Several cases of suspected domestic abuse
  • Repeatedly throwing or breaking inanimate objects
  • Frequent traffic accidents and moving violations
  • Extreme sensitivity to alcohol
  • Sexual impulsivity

Episodes of IED typically last less than half an hour and can occur in frequent successions or are separated by weeks to months at a time. When a person is in between episodes they are typically irritable and impulsive. Once an episode has concluded the person typically feels some sort of relief and genuine remorse or embarrassment towards their previous behavior. IED often begins to develop in the early teenage years and commonly leads to depression and substance abuse disorders later in life. Some common symptoms of IED can include the following:

  • Irritability
  • Rage
  • Tremors
  • Racing thoughts
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Headaches
  • Tingling sensations
  • Increased energy

The exact causes of IED are unknown but it is typically considered to be caused by several factors. Some of the different factors that could cause IED may include the following:

  • Abnormal neurotransmitters within the brain
  • Dysfunctional parts of the brain that are linked to emotions and impulse control
  • History of unstable family life
  • Physical or emotional abuse as a child
  • Genetic predisposition

People struggling with IED commonly experience troubled interpersonal relationships. They are often viewed as chronically angry people and will commonly be unable to hold on to friendships and marriages. Treatment is available for IED and will commonly consist of medication combined with counseling and therapy. Therapy will focus on teaching impulse control and improving the person’s quality of life. Psychotherapy can help uncover any underlying reasons that may be causing the outbursts of anger. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help a person recognize and avoid triggers that typically lead to an outburst.

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