Excessive Anger & Rage

Road rage. Domestic abuse. Angry outbursts or temper tantrums that involve throwing or breaking objects; these are all symptoms that could be indicative of an excessive anger or rage disorder. Anger is a feeling of displeasure or hostility, but is a normal, healthy emotion that is a natural response to perceived threats. Anger becomes a problem only when it is not managed in a healthy way. Sometimes such expressions can be caused by a condition known as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED).

Table of Contents
1. Introduction 6. Types of IED
2. Definition 7. Treatment
3. Vital Statistics    
4. Sign and Symptoms    
5. Risk Factors    

IED is exemplified by repeated episodes of aggressive, violent behavior in which an individual reacts grossly out of proportion to the situation. Later, people with excessive anger and rage may feel remorse, regret or embarrassment.

  Vital Statistics:  
  Sign and Symptoms:  

Explosive eruptions, usually last 10 to 20 minutes. These episodes may occur in clusters or be separated by weeks or months of nonaggression.

  Risk Factors:  

Evidence suggests that IED might predispose toward depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse disorders by increasing stressful life experiences, such as financial difficulties and divorce.

  Types of IED:  

To be diagnosed with IED, an individual must have had three episodes of impulsive aggressiveness "grossly out of proportion to any precipitating psychosocial stressor," at any time in their life, according to the standard psychiatric diagnostic manual. The person must have "all of a sudden lost control and broke or smashed something worth more than a few dollars... hit or tried to hurt someone... or threatened to hit or hurt someone." People who had three such episodes within the space of one year - a more narrowly defined subgroup - were found to have a much more persistent and severe disorder, particularly if they attacked both people and property.


Studies suggest that patients with intermittent explosive disorders respond to treatment with antidepressants and mood stabilizers. These patients often need psychological treatment along with medication. IED is not something that can be quantified - there is no measurement to it. Even in the same person, for instance, there might be ebbs and surges of the way they react to things at different times in their life.

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