Have you ever had a sudden outburst of out-of-proportion anger — an intense moment of rage that doesn’t seem to be in line with what’s actually occurring to trigger that reaction? Do you sometimes go from feeling perfectly normal to being absolutely enraged in seconds? If so, then you could have an emotional condition called “intermittent explosive disorder.”
You’re not alone. In fact, a recent study showed that more people could have this disorder — also known as IED — than experts had previously believed. Not only is this a problem that disrupts your life, and disturbs and confuses the people around you, but it is also a common cause of property damage and personal injury. People with IED are also considered more prone to depression and substance abuse as well.
In the study, published in the medical journal Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers reviewed data from about 9,282 adults collected in the U.S. from 2001 to 2003. Out of the study participants, 7.3% admitted to having experienced IED during their lifetime.
Moreover, 3.9% admitted to having at least three episodes of this extreme, violent type of outburst in the past year. Perhaps predictably, the IED rate was higher among the 25- and-younger crowd (10% had an episode three times or more in their lifetime) — this could be because the disorder is gaining in frequency or because the memory of these angry outbursts fades with time.
These numbers are much higher than the researchers had anticipated, and are especially surprising given the lack of acknowledgement when it comes to IED. Now that this disorder is out in the open, perhaps doctors and patients alike will discuss it more and, therefore, more sufferers will receive appropriate treatment. Hopefully, misdiagnosis of the disorder will also decrease, as it is often confused with other mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder.
It’s thought that a lack of “serotonin,” an important feel- good, mood-regulating hormone, in the brain could be the culprit behind IED. Treatment for this mood disorder could include psychotherapy and the use of selective “serotonin reuptake inhibitors” (SSRIs) to address the inadequate levels of serotonin in the body.
If you think you might have IED — for example, if you have out-of-control road rage that leads you into aggressive behavior and irrational acts — get checked out by your doctor. There could be a physical reason behind your violent conduct.