Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Intermittent explosive disorder is characterised by repeated, sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, verbal outbursts or violent physical behavior. It differs from anger in that: 1) the person fails to resist the aggressive impulses that result in serious acts of assault or destruction of property, and 2) the reactions are grossly out of proportion to the situation. Road rage, domestic abuse, throwing or breaking objects, or other temper tantrums may be signs of intermittent explosive disorder.

The outbursts can result in:

Impaired interpersonal relationships: These intermittent, explosive outbursts cause significant distress, negatively impact relationships at home, and / or work, and / or with friends. They can result in strained or broken marriages and legal and financial consequences.

Trouble at work, home or school:  The intermittent, explosive outbursts can result in job loss, school suspension, car accidents, financial problems or trouble with the law.

Problems with mood: Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety often occur with intermittent explosive disorder.

Problems with alcohol and other substance use: People with IED may abuse drugs or alcohol.

Physical health problems: Medical conditions are more common in people with IED and can include,high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, ulcers, and chronic pain.

Self-harm: Intentional injuries or suicide attempts can sometimes occur.

Assessment may include a brain scan, EEG, blood tests and psychometry. Treatment  includes medication and talk therapy.



Explosive eruptions that occur suddenly, with little or no warning, and usually last less than 30 minutes.

The person may be irritable, impulsive, aggressive or chronically angry most of the time.

The explosive verbal and behavioral outbursts are out of proportion to the situation, with no thought to consequences.

There may be irrational and heated arguments, shouting, and physical assault including slapping, shoving or pushing, and fights

Property may be damaged. 

The sggressive episodes may be preceded or accompanied by:

  • Irritability
  • Increased energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Palpitations
  • Chest tightness