7 Signs You Might Have Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Even the most even-tempered person loses their cool every once in a while, but when does the occasional outburst become a sign you have intermittent explosive disorder? Although it may affect up to seven percent of the adult population, it's little-known outside of the psychological community; in fact, unless you've received the diagnosis or have an interest in psychology, this may be the first you've heard of the term.

Of course, this raises the question of what constitutes intermittent explosive disorder in the first place. Essentially, it's exactly what it sounds like: People with the disorder have uncontrollable, impulsive "explosions" of anger or aggression that may be distressing to themselves or others. According to Psych Central, those with the disorder may experience a sense of relief after an episode, followed by remorse or embarrassment. It's important to note that this is a disorder, not just an example of someone with a quick temper — one of the fundamental aspects of the disorder is the totally disproportionate response. It's less "cursing at someone who cut you off while driving," and more "chasing down and physically attacking them."

Needless to say, intermittent explosive disorder can have a devastating effect on people's life; maintaining relationships and employment can be nigh impossible when you're never sure when you'll have another outburst. Again, intermittent explosive disorder doesn't mean you have a hasty temper; it's a real disorder with real consequences. The following list of symptoms is no replacement for a diagnosis, but if many of them sound familiar, it could be an indication to get professional help.

1. You Feel Like You Can't Control Your Anger

As discussed above, people with intermittent explosive disorder experience uncontrollable outbursts of aggression. According to Psych Central, some describe their outbursts as "spells" or "episodes," in that the anger comes on without warning and leaves just as suddenly.

2. You've Had Multiple Outbursts

One of the most important criteria for the disorder is the frequency of the episodes. A few isolated incidents over the course of a lifetime isn't enough for a diagnosis; rather, people with the disorder have to experience at least two outbursts a week for at least three months to receive a diagnosis, although they can certainly occur more frequently.

3. The Episodes Are Disproportionate Or Totally Unprovoked

The frequency of the episodes isn't the only aspect that takes someone's anger into disordered territory. The episodes themselves must be totally disproportionate to whatever provocation set them off, and they aren't caused by any specific triggers, which may indicate a different disorder at play.

4. You've Caused Property Damage

These outbursts are so aggressive that they frequently result in property damage. In fact, it was only recently that verbal and non-injurious physical aggression (think yelling or punching a wall) were added as possible criteria in the DSM.

5. You Have Actual Road Rage

Road rage has been the subject of stand-up comedy for decades, but when you have intermittent explosive disorder, it's a serious problem.

6. Your Thoughts Race During An Episode

As part of the uncontrollable nature of their episodes, people with intermittent explosive disorder sometimes find their thoughts racing when they get angry. Alternatively, they may experience temporary emotional detachment.

7. Your Outbursts Aren't Caused By Another Disorder

Intermittent explosive disorder is hardly the only disorder characterized by extreme anger. Although it may be exacerbated by or even lead to the development of other disorders, intermittent explosive disorder isn't diagnosed until the possibility of other causes has been ruled out.

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