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What is Intermittent Explosive Disorder or IED and How to Deal with It

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), or Hulk Syndrome, is a disorder in which anger attacks appear through uncontrolled and sudden aggression. They can be accompanied by a verbal and physical assault that lasts about 30 minutes and can harm the person and those around him.

Before having an attack, the person may have the most common IED symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, and changes in consciousness. After the episode, it is common for the person to feel remorse, guilt, and shame for their actions. The Intermittent Explosive Disorder is often accompanied by substance abuse, depression, OCD, and social phobia.

Treatment for IED includes medications such as Fluoxetine and Sertraline and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy sessions to control impulses and anger.

Main symptoms of IED

Feeling anger in stressful situations such as car crashes or during children’s tantrums is common. These feelings are expected, as long as there is awareness and control over them, with no sudden changes to a state of fury and aggressive behavior, which can risk the well-being and safety of others.

However, when aggression is disproportionate to the situation that triggered the anger, it may be a sign among a list of signs of Intermittent Explosive Disorder, which can be characterized by:

  • Lack of control;
  • Breaking objects;
  • Sweating, tingling, muscle tremors;
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Verbal threats or physical aggression with no justifiable reason;
  • Feelings of guilt and shame after the attacks

The diagnosis of IED is done by a psychiatrist based on personal history and reports from friends and family. It can only be confirmed when aggressive behavior is repeated for several months, which suggests a chronic disease.

Besides that, other behavior changes, such as Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, must be ruled out. They share symptoms with those of IED, so a proper diagnosis is required to clear any doubt.

Causes of anger attacks

The exact cause of anger attacks is not known. However, it is believed that it may be related to factors such as family members who have more aggressive and impulsive behavior, chemical changes in neurotransmitters, and changes in the region of the brain responsible for impulse control.

Also, it is common for people who suffer from IED to have a history of physical or sexual abuse during childhood and exposure to traumatic situations, such as serious accidents or disasters.

Treatment for Intermittent Explosive Disorder

When anger attacks are frequent and out of control, a psychologist should be consulted so that individual or group therapy sessions can happen. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be applied to learn how to control anger and identify situations that may provoke a more aggressive response. In addition to psychotherapy, antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications for IED such as Fluoxetine, Citalopram, Sertraline, Carbamazepine, and Valproate may be necessary for this disorder. They help the individual to control and stabilize their emotions, thus reducing the chances of aggression.

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Copyright 2022 | All Rights Reserved.