Intermittent explosive disorder

Intermittent explosive disorder involves repeated episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts in which you react grossly out of proportion to the situation. Road rage, domestic abuse, throwing or breaking objects, or other temper tantrums may be signs of intermittent explosive disorder.

People with intermittent explosive disorder may attack others and their possessions, causing bodily injury and property damage. They may also injure themselves during an outburst. Later, people with intermittent explosive disorder may feel remorse, regret or embarrassment.

If you have intermittent explosive disorder, treatment may involve medications and psychotherapy to help you control your aggressive impulses.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Explosive eruptions, usually lasting less than 30 minutes, often result in verbal assaults, injuries and the deliberate destruction of property. These episodes may occur in clusters or be separated by weeks or months of nonaggression. In between explosive outbursts, the person may be irritable, impulsive, aggressive or angry.

Aggressive episodes may be preceded or accompanied by:

  • Irritability
  • Increased energy
  • Rage
  • Racing thoughts
  • Tingling
  • Tremors
  • Palpitations
  • Chest tightness
  • Feeling of pressure in the head

Depression, fatigue or relief may occur after the episode.

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