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Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Updated on June 14, 2011
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Sunshine is a wife, mother of four, a relationship expert, a journalist, a photographer, a public speaker, and author.

What is Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

Intermittent Explosive Disorder, or IED, is a disorder revolving around uncontrolled rage. People with IED show aggressive and violent behavior to stimuli that would not bother most ordinary people. Intermittent Explosive disorder affects one in 14 adults, and that number is on the rise as more and more children are being diagnosed with Explosive Child Syndrome and growing into aggressive and violent adults.

Events such as extreme road rage are explained by people with IED nut being able to control their rage over something as small as being cut off, or a driver not using a blinker.

What causes Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

Statistically speaking, majority of adults with IED were raised in abusive homes where violence, drug abuse, and negativity were part of every day life. Some studies are being done on whether or not IED is genetic and can be passed from parents to children. Many adults with IED were diagnosed with ADHD as children.

Risk factors include people already suffering from anxiety, mood disorders, or other mental health and personality disorders. People who suffer from alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional and mental abuse are at risk for developing IED.

People with IED also have a higher risk of hurting themselves in bouts of violence. A study was done and published in the Journal of Psychiatry Research which found 16% of people studied with IED harmed themselves in violent explosions, and 12% had attempted suicide.

What are the signs and symptoms of Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

Intermittent Explosive Disorder shows up as violent explosions of rage and anger lasting less than 30 minutes which may result in bodily injury and damage to property. The timeframe between episodes varies from daily to weeks or months between occurrences. Symptoms usually begin like an anxiety attack with chest pain and tightness, pressure in the head, tingling, tremor, and hearing an echo.

How do you know if you have Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Medical Disorders, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association describes criteria for diagnosis as:

  • Violent aggressiveness not explained by another mental disorder such as delirium, dementia, oppositional defiant disorder, antisocial personality disorder, schizophrenia, panic disorder, and substance abuse must be ruled out first.
  • Aggressiveness must be way out of proportion with the events that led to it
  • Multiple incidences where there was destruction of property or bodily injury, and no way of controlling it.

Some studies are being done for further testing such as irregularities on an electroencephalogram (EEG) and levels of serotonin and testosterone imbalances, but they are not yet used to test for IED.

How is Intermittent Explosive Disorder treated?

There are many drugs on the market right now to help control IED such as:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Anti-anxiety drugs
  • Mood regulators
  • Antidepressants

A mixture of Cognitive Therapy as well as Behavioral Therapy may be used as well to help get to the root of where the Violence is coming from and help teach people with IED how to behave in a different manor. Anger management and relaxation techniques are also used to treat IED.Many people have found outlets for their aggressive behavior and careers that turn it into a positive attribute rather than a negative disorder. WWE Wrestler Randy Orton has stated that he has IED, and is using the power of publicity to spread awareness about the disorder.

Many studies are being done on children with behavioral disorders and how they carry over into adult hood, which ones become IED, and why. It is through awareness and understanding of IED that we can delete it from society and help better treat people with this explosive rage disorder.


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    • Valene profile image

      Valene 4 years ago from Missouri

      I sometimes think my boyfriend has IED because he will get very angry about something really small and stupid and it's very hard to be around him when he's like this. We sort of blame it on his Irish temper, but it's seriously a problem and I just want to slap him when he's like that. He does seem to be getting better as he gets older, though (he's now in his 40s). People with this issue definitely need to seek help and not ignore it. He's been to counseling and I think that helped.

    • profile image

      dianne 6 years ago

      my mate have bouts of verbal aggression, it hasn't gotten physical, but its becoming more often and im becoming afraid that it will get physical, and its over little things. most of the time its because he thinks he knows what im thinking and when i tell him hes wrong he becomes angry is this IED

    • profile image

      Maria Smtih 6 years ago

      I go through the same thing and i cry every time i see my husband go through it and i feel like at times i want to walk out and never come back and take the kids with me cause they dont need to see their father like that.But i cant leave him alone cause we need him and without us it gets worst.

    • profile image

      shameonuradgirl 6 years ago

      Have you ever witnessed Jesus heal someone with IED? or any mental disorder? This girl is looking for real help and real relationships and you tell her about jesus? I used to trust in Jesus, wasted my life.

      Why don't you at least research a real organization? or better yet if you really a christian and believe in miracles take this girl in and you will see that jesus won't help you after your life is destroyed. hope you get what you deserve.

    • radgirl profile image

      radgirl 6 years ago from Somewhere in outer space

      There is an organization for broken, wounded, lost, and downtrodden souls. THE CEO is Jesus, and he loves you. When you get to know him, the world changes your the colors are brighter, the sights are more clear, and you will be led to your Heavenly Father, and he is crazy about you.

      Some day, I hope you can use your experiences to help others who have been through similar situations.

      2 Corinthians 1:3-4(NIV)3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

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      hurtandcomplicated 7 years ago

      I saw this and cried.All my life i have been though severe abuse.mental,emotional,sexual and last and the most pysical.My parents did most of this to me but sexual.they left welts,bruises and scratches on me i have tried to report this many times and they too a photo of me bruised all over,and said it was not abuse.they would pull my hair,restrain me and whip me with belts,slap me,drag me by my hair, spit on methreaten me.My mother called me a slut and a whore,said she should have had an abortion with me many times,embarrassed me,yelled at me ruined holidays cuz i was there,called me a retard and an dad called me stupid.then i was raped 3 x and i sit here feeling hopeless,because of the abuse, the cops were called and i was halled to jail for al this.i didn't do nothing but defend myself, now i suffer from manic depression,adhd,asbergers,bi polar,borderline personality disorder and now this.i cant get an apartment call all the police repoorts is when my rents hit me and i got halled off, my mom heartless never spent a night in jail.well im trying to get an apartment, i cant cuz of this long record that i have FOR MY PARENTS BEATING ME.if there is people that are willing to help build a organization for truma and mentally scarred people please let me know i would like to help. _tainted angel...

    • radgirl profile image

      radgirl 7 years ago from Somewhere in outer space

      Anna-You find yourself at a very horrible moment in time. The man you love and who loves you has a disorder that can make your own home feel like a war zone.

      I don't know your situation, but I can say that if you're being hurt, you need to get out. If not, use your support system and get some help.

      This is a very hard choice, make it wisely.

    • profile image

      Tammy Moss 7 years ago

      IED-A personal story

      Roger Heater took a break from his pro-bono talks to complete writing his autobiography-‘From Institutions to Freedom’. It is slated to be finished by the end of the year.

      However, his passion in sharing his story doesn’t stop with his book. There is so much to learn about this illness that we need to continue to talk to those places, to those people who will take away a piece of this powerful, compelling and motivational story and bring hope to those who may be suffering in one way or another.

      Roger’s story tells us of a boy with such rage attacks that his young mother, having no help and no answers gave custody of him to the State of Califonia. Even the professionals were bewildered with his behavior. They called him ‘incorrigible’. In other words he was incapable of being changed.

      The hospitals gave him drugs like Ritalin and Valium to calm him temporarily but they did nothing to understand why he was acting the way he was. Roger spent a few years in mental institutions. These horrible places were exactly like what you see in the movies… mentally and physically challenged adults mixed with children that were given up on. Violent and unstable children and adults filled the halls, walking around like zombies and screaming for no reason at all. There was Roger in the middle of it all, not knowing why he was there and being forced to live in such horrific conditions because no one know what to do with him. A lonely young boy without anyone to tell them that things would be ok.

      Roger learned to adapt to every situation, to every place he was sent to. He still got into trouble but with his quick wit, he knew how to manipulate the other kids that lived with him and the adults that took care of him. Roger ran away but the authorities always found him and returned him to the place he hated to be-away from his mother and the family that loved him.

      Roger lived in institutions and group homes for about 4 years. They didn’t want to send him to another group home so a group of psychiatrists decided he wasn’t capable of being a productive member of society and would be a dangerous threat to the public. They only thing that could be done to “change” this child was to send him to Napa State Hospital to receive electric shock treatments..

      Want to hear the rest of his story?

      Contact us at to book this amazing speaker. Don’t wait another moment- It all starts with one voice-YOURS

    • profile image

      Anna 7 years ago

      My husband has ied and after 14 years I don't know if I can tke anymore. I never know what is going to set it off and whatever it is, it is always my fault. He has seen the Veterans Commission and received the diagnoses of BiPolar Disorder, IED, ADHD, and Impulisvity. What do I do, I have two little girls who love him as he isn't always anygry. But I just can't take anymore. Do I go through this hell so that my baby's can have their daddy. I am so confused and sad. It is never going to go away is it? Does anyone have any experience that can help me. I'm tired of crying, being scared, and watching the insanity of it all.

    • profile image

      Candice Perez 7 years ago

      I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being struck by lightning.. and my stepdad has a way they are similar but IED has more "suffering" in store for it's victims. I love my dad but scary when he gets angry.

    • profile image

      mark potter 7 years ago

      i was diagnosed with IED after a severe head injury, which brought my childhood truama to the fore front; i found comfort at sea working as a bearing sea fisherman and crabber, it alowed me to vent through physical exertion; slamming 800 lb. crab pots and defying 30 foot seas on the rail shure does help; it's the modern world and other humans that doesn't help.

    • profile image

      Trae 7 years ago

      Interesting enough, I only have this when I'm around the DMV, such an evil establishment. Anyways, interesting information, I have never heard of this before. thx

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      Somethin 8 years ago

      YOU have helped me get so far though my a.m.i. thank you!