What is Intermittent Explosive Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

You may have come across some people that have the problem of emotional outbursts and getting angry. Today, we’ll discuss what is intermittent explosive disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Experts usually overlook IED as a mental health disorder because of identified as losing control, sudden outbursts, and anger episodes. The condition starts in early childhood and the person keeps on experiencing it throughout one’s life. However, the impact and symptoms of IED vary from person to person.

What is Intermittent Explosive Disorder? 

IED (intermittent explosive disorder) comprises sudden and repetitive episodes of violent, aggressive, and angry behavior and verbal outburst; where you react to the situation grossly out of proportion. The top signs of IED (intermittent explosive disorder) are tantrum temper, breaking things, throwing, abuse, domestic, and road rage.

IED can cause significant financial and legal consequences, issues in the school and workplace, and a negative impact on your relationship. It falls under the category of chronic disorder that would last for years, and the severity of angry outbursts reduces with age.

According to an estimate, IED impacts roundabout 11.5 to 16 million US adults their life or 7.3% of the total people.

Symptoms of IED

The episode of IED could occur at any time. Some people experience its episode on daily basis and the others remain nonaggressive for months and weeks. However, the symptoms of IED vary from person to person. For instance, some people have a lower urge toward verbal abuse and more toward exhibiting physical abuse. Some of the main symptoms of IED are as follows;

  • Racing heartbeat and palpitation
  • Shaking movement of trunk, legs, arms, and hands like tremors
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Increased energy level
  • Random thoughts
  • Feeling irritation with human contact
  • Frustration
  • Sudden rage

Some of the other symptoms of IED are as follows;

  • Letting their anger out on animals, and threatening people
  • Damaging private and personal property
  • Using their hands on other people for pushing and slapping
  • Shouting aggressively
  • Engaging in the heated arguments
  • Using abusive words to send a message
  • Anger tantrums

People with IED conditions behave in such a way impulsively, and often they regret their behavior later on.

Causes of Intermittent Explosive Disorder 

Various environmental and genetic factors could cause the development of IEDs. Some of the main causes are as follows;

  • Substance-abuse disorder, symptoms relevant to anxiety, depression
  • Mental health conditions like borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and ADHD
  • Long term trauma
  • Different levels of serotonin, brain chemistry, and functions
  • Experiencing any type of physical or verbal abuse in the childhood
  • Hereditary and family history

Diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder 

In order to diagnose IED, your doctor would conduct a thorough physical and mental examination, and ask a question about your psychiatric and medical history. The person must be exhibiting the symptoms of losing control over yourself and impulsively aggressive behavior in the following form;

  • 3 episodes of destructing and damaging the property, and physical assault resulting in the form of injury against people and animals have happened over the past year
  • Verbal arguments, fights, aggression; and physical aggression toward people and animals have happened over the past three months; the aggression doesn’t result in the form destruction of property, and not physically harming the animal or people

The emotional outburst isn’t preplanned and is based on anger and impulsiveness. Conditions like substance abuse, medical conditions, or other mental health issues don’t explain the emotional outburst.

Treatment of IED 

The treatment plan for intermittent explosive disorder comprises medication and psychotherapy. They’re as follows;

Medical Treatment

Your doctor would prescribe anticonvulsants and antidepressant-like SSRIs like serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and some other medicines depending on your symptoms and condition.


CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) would help people with IED conditions manage the symptoms by altering their behavior. It helps people in the following ways;

  • Recognizing the triggering factors that cause the aggressive behavioral response
  • Controlling and managing your aggressive behavior with positive thinking patterns and relaxation techniques
  • Working on the problem solving and communication skills

Prevention Techniques for IED 

People with IED conditions can various techniques and strategies to avoid its episode. Some of the main prevention tips are as follows;

  • Avoid the consumption of recreational drugs and alcohol
  • Leaving stressful circumstances, and finding a way to change your environment if it is possible
  • Communication skill
  • Cognitive restructuring and changing your thinking pattern
  • Mental relaxation techniques
  • Thinking positively and trying to see the logic in the aggressive state of mind
  • If you have a therapy session, then you should never miss an appointment
  • Following a certain type of dull routine would cause frustration, and you should consider changing the routine

Conclusion: What is Intermittent Explosive Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is intermittent explosive disorder; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention tips; we’ve realized that IED could badly impact your life. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with the therapist in your area to work on the treatment plan.