A lot of times when young people get cranky or mad, adults dismiss it as “teen angst”–which probably makes you more mad, because it’s like saying your feelings don’t matter or aren’t valid, right? Thing is, if you get really, really mad pretty often, it may be a signal of something a lot worse than teen angst: it may be a sign of something called intermittent explosive disorder (IED). Those with IED have uncontrollable fits of anger without the triggers of substance abuse, mental or mood disorders.
Intermittent explosive disorder sounds scary, because, well, it sort of is. Those suffering from IED often go into sort of blind rages, and they can involve threatening violence (yikes!), actually being violent (YIKES!), or destroying property (like punching a wall, breaking dishes, etc.). Once the violent or damaging acts were committed, most patients reported feeling either pleasure or relief–but remorse once it was all said and done. All in all: Not good.
And here’s what’s even scarier about intermittent explosive disorder: Most of the time, it goes undiagnosed, when as many as 6 million teens may be suffering from it. To meet the definition of IED, a patient has to pretty much flip the eff out without a significant enough reason to do so at least three times–and when and if you get tested for intermittent explosive disorder, your doc will ask you more specific questions and about certain incidents that happened usually within the last year.
What really sucks about having IED as a teen and having it waved off as”teen angst” (ugh) is that intermittent explosive disorder can lead to even more issues as you get older, including depression and substance abuse as an adult. That’s a big reason why doctors say this particular mood disorder needs to be researched more heavily and more seriously. Dr. Ronald Kessler, who’s a big supporter of IED research, told Time, “It’s a problem because it really gets in the way of your life. There are lots of things people don’t get treatment for because it doesn’t really impact them. This does. The problem is an awful lot of people have it—more than I thought—it’s awfully chronic, and it’s impairing.”
Other symptoms of intermittent explosive disorder can be physical. During an outburst, patients may sweat or twitch, their chests may tighten, and they may experience heart palpitations. These scary symptoms are even more reason to get checked out.
Part of why intermittent explosive disorder is such an epidemic issue is that those who suffer from it may not realize that they have a problem–sometimes it can seem like if people stopped pissing you off, well, then you wouldn’t get so mad, right? But if you’re getting super pissed, to the point of throwing, breaking, or damaging your stuff or hurting those around you, that’s a big, huge problem, and it’s one that you’re going to want to address before it gets any worse. IED can be treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. If you or a loved one suffer from intermittent explosive disorder, you can find help here.
Have you ever been so angry that you did something totally irrational or even violent? How do you cope with your anger? Do you or does someone you know suffer from intermittent explosive disorder? Tell us in the comments!