Rage disorder, or Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), affects 7.3% of US adults at some time during their lifetimes. The disorder comes with moments of unexpected anger in which the person may attack other people, other people’s belongings and actually hurt them and damage their property.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). It found that up to 16 million Americans may experience IED during their lifetimes. Data comes from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, involving 9,282 adults – a national face-to-face survey.

According to Ronald Kessler, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, and team, people with IED generally start showing symptoms during their early teenage years. Nearly 82% of IED sufferers go on to experience depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. Unfortunately, only 28.8% are ever treated for their anger. Treatment may prevent later depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders.

You can read about this report in the Archives of General Psychiatry, June 2006.

According to the standard psychiatric diagnostic manual, a diagnosis of IED includes:

— The person had 3 episodes of impulsive aggressiveness ?grossly out of proportion to any precipitating psychosocial stressor’ during his/her lifetime

— The person suddenly lost control and smashed something worth more than a few dollars

— The person hit or tried to hurt someone

— The person threatened to hit or hurt someone

If a person has had three episodes within the last 12 months he/she is considered to have a more persistent and severe disorder – especially if the episodes included attacking people and property. People with persistent and severe IED tend to cause 3.5 times more damage than other people with IED.

People with severe IED have an average of 43 episodes with serious attacks during their lifetimes. It is estimated that between 5.9 – 8.5 million people in the United States are in this sub-group. The disorder brings with it considerable functional impairment.

The researchers suggest that due to the stressful lives IED sufferers have, which includes a high divorce rate and serious money problems, they are much more susceptible to having drug and alcohol abuse disorders, as well as experiencing depression and/or anxiety.

As the onset of IED tends to take place early in life, the researchers suggest more should be done to identify it in schools and provide early treatment. This may reduce the number of people who go on to experience the other co-occurring disorders.

Even though most IED sufferers had seen a professional for emotional problems, only 11.7% had been treated for anger during the previous year before being interviewed.

The number of sufferers is much higher than other studies on IED had indicated. The report says cases of anger outbursts are probably much higher than the numbers reported in this report, because it excluded outbursts from people with other disorders that may overlap with IED, such as bipolar disorder.

NIH – National Institute of Mental Health

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today