Explosive Behavior

 

Intermittent explosive disorder involves repeated, sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts in which you react 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.

These intermittent, explosive outbursts cause you significant distress, negatively impact your relationships, work and school, and they can have legal and financial consequences.

Intermittent explosive disorder is a chronic disorder that can continue for years, although the severity of outbursts may decrease with age. Treatment involves medications and psychotherapy to help you control your aggressive impulses.

Explosive eruptions occur suddenly, with little or no warning, and usually last less than 30 minutes. These episodes may occur frequently or be separated by weeks or months of nonaggression. Less severe verbal outbursts may occur in between episodes of physical aggression. You may be irritable, impulsive, aggressive or chronically angry most of the time.

Aggressive episodes may be preceded or accompanied by:

  • Rage

  • Irritability

  • Increased energy

  • Racing thoughts

  • Tingling

  • Tremors

  • Palpitations

  • Chest tightness

 

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

  • Temper tantrums

  • Tirades

  • Heated arguments

  • Shouting

  • Slapping, shoving or pushing

  • Physical fights

  • Property damage

  • Threatening or assaulting people or animals

 

You may feel a sense of relief and tiredness after the episode. Later, you may feel remorse, regret or embarrassment.

When to see a doctor

 

If you recognize your own behavior in the description of intermittent explosive disorder, talk with your doctor about treatment options or ask for a referral to a mental health provider.