Intermittent explosive disorder (IED), a little known mental disorder marked by explosive outbursts that are disproportionate to the activating event, may be more prevalent than previously thought. A survey done in the USA from 2001 to 2003 revealed that as many as 7.3% of adults may suffer from the disorder, and that the mean age of onset of was 14.
In the DSM-IV, IED is classified as an impulse-control disorder in which people have difficulty in controlling violent impulses that could result in serious assaults or the destruction of property. Some incidences of 'road rage' or domestic violence may be ascribed to this disorder. Symptoms usually appear during childhood or adolescence, and often exhibits co-morbidity with other mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders and anxiety disorders. Therapeutic intervention includes tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin reuptake inhibitors, GABAergic mood stabilizers and anticonvulsive drugs, and anxiolytics, depending on the pathopsychological symptoms and co-morbid disorders. Psychotropic drugs are most effectively used together with cognitive-behavioural therapy to help the patient achieve impulse-control, manage anger and relieve the emotional stress and affective changes that accompany or precede the outbursts.
More detailed information about IED is available from:
The prevalence and correlates of DSM-IV intermittent explosive disorder in the national co-morbidity survey replication, Ronald C. Kessler, Emil F. Coccaro, Maurizio Fava, Savina Jaeger, Robert Jin, and Ellen Walters. Archives of General Psychiatry, vol. 63, no. 6. Jun. 2006. pp. 669-678.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Stephen J. Hucker, ForensicPsychiatry.ca, c2005, 2006 (accessed online on 30 Mar. 2007).
Intermittent explosive disorder affects up to 16 million Americans, BJ Sullivan, Science Blog, 6 Jun. 2006 (accessed online on 21 Feb. 2007
'Road rage' gets a medical diagnosis, MSNBC.com, 5 Jun. 2006.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR®), 4th ed., Text Revision, American Psychiatric Association, c2000.
Intermittent explosive disorder, Wikipedia (accessed online on 30 Mar. 2007).