Intermittent Explosive Disorder – What is a “rage” disorder in juveniles?

An important study by Dr. Emil Coccaro (University of Chicago) indicated that a disorder believed to be responsible for Road Rage or frequent interpersonal violence may be a treatable form of Neuropsychiatric rage condition (Intermittent Explosive Disorder). Dr. Coccaro’s study provided new information about this condition.







A few of the key points about Intermittent Explosive Disorder from this study, and our experience:

  • Prevalence – Rage Disorder is more common than previously thought (7.3%)
  • Identification – Rage means minimum provocation leads maximum aggression
  • Onset – Average age at onset is 14 years (half start in childhood, half in teens)
  • Frequency – If three or more explosive “meltdowns” a year, this is a rage disorder
  • Cause – It’s a brain disorder, but exposure to media violence makes it worse
  • Parenting – It is not due to parenting, but parents are often blamed (it is genetic)
  • Diagnosis – Many doctors diagnose as Bipolar Disorder, but it is a brain disorder
  • Assessment – Brain imaging and electrical studies demonstrate Brain Disorders
  • Treatment – Sedatives are used for anger control/safety. We prefer to target the specific brain disorder
  • Outcome – Early intervention gives excellent outcome (85-90% in our studies)

A very large proportion of children and adolescents at the Meridell Achievement Center’s Neurobehavioral/Neuropsychiatric program meet the criteria for this “rage” disorder. They are usually our most successful patients as they have a true brain disorder that responds quickly to appropriate medication.

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