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intermittent explosive disorder | depression help | Terezia Farkas | Beliefnet

Anger is a natural way to deal with a flight or fight situation. But sometimes a person explodes into a rage without any reason. This is Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED).

What is IED?

Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is an impulse-control disorder. A person suddenly explodes with anger which then blows up into uncontrollable rage. A person with IED is hostile, impulsive, and has recurring aggressive outbursts. Rage is common. Impulsively screaming at things is also a sign of IED.

IED makes a person feel like he/she has lost control over his/her emotions. Anger boils up out of nowhere and rules body and mind. A person with IED might threaten or attack objects, animals, and people.

There is a lot of tension from rage that builds up inside the body and mind. Once the rage is released, the person feels a sense of relief because the body and mind relax. But as the relief wears off, remorse or embarrassment takes over. This brings back tension which can lead to resentment and then anger.

Causes of Irrational Anger

The cause of irrational anger can be a combination of factors.


It’s thought that IED and irrational anger may be genetic. However, there is not any specific gene identified as having a prominent impact in the development of IED.


Research suggests that intermittent explosive disorder may be the result of abnormalities in the parts of the brain that regulate arousal and inhibition. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages throughout the brain. Serotonin might be structurally different in people with intermittent explosive disorder. This difference in chemical structure might mean that muscle activity is controlled differently in a person with IED.


Environment can have a huge impact on whether a person develops IED. It’s thought that kids who are harshly punished will more likely develop IED as adults. These children follow the example set by their parents, and so act out aggressively as adults. Another theory is that if children suffer harsh physical punishments, they may find a sense of redemption in putting others through the same form of physical pain.

Symptoms of IED

  • physical aggressiveness
  • verbal aggression
  • angry outbursts
  • physically attacking people and/or objects
  • damaging property
  • road rage
  • headaches
  • muscle tension
  • feelings of pressure in the head
  • tremors
  • low frustration tolerance
  • racing thoughts
  • uncontrollable irritability
  • brief periods of emotional detachment
  • feelings of rage
  • self harm
  • drug or alcohol addiction
  • impaired interpersonal relationships
  • trouble at work, home, or school
  • low self-esteem and self-loathing
  • suicidal thoughts and behaviours


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