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Understanding Intermittent Explosive Disorder: Symptoms & Causes

Understanding Intermittent Explosive Disorder: Symptoms & Causes

Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is a type of impulse control disorder that causes someone to frequently experience impulsive angry outbursts that are disproportionate to the event or situation that triggered them. For example, when someone with this condition becomes frustrated—even about something relatively minor—they may throw a tantrum, argue, damage property, instigate a physical fight, or act aggressively. Below, we explore common IED symptoms, and we also discuss what can cause someone to develop an IED.

What Are the Symptoms of IED?

People with intermittent explosive disorder often report experiencing the following symptoms shortly before their outbursts occur:

  • Increased energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Tension
  • Rage
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tightness within the chest
  • Tremors
  • An inability to effectively communicate

Individuals with IED often recognize that their outbursts are unreasonable yet feel out of control when the episodes occur.

What Causes IED?

Researchers are still trying to determine precisely what causes intermittent explosive disorder. Still, studies show that genetics, biological factors (such as brain structure and serotonin levels), and environmental factors (such as abuse during childhood) may play a role. Notably, many individuals with IED have another type of mental health condition, such as anxiety, autism, or bipolar disorder.

Get the Help You Need

If you suspect that you might have intermittent explosive disorder, one of the best things you can do is speak to a therapist who regularly treats patients with this condition. Contact me today—I’ll be happy to tell you about my practice and experience treating IED, answer your questions, and schedule an initial therapy appointment.

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