It can be hard to recognize if someone has intermittent explosive disorder because many people lose their temper from time to time. But the behavior of a person with intermittent explosive disorder can result in assaults or serious property damage.

You should consider seeking professional help if you recognize a pattern of attacks of rage with destructive results or aggressive reactions clearly out of proportion to the situation.

While there is no questionnaire for diagnosing intermittent explosive disorder, answering these questions may help you decide if you need a professional evaluation.

  • Do you have trouble controlling your temper?
  • Do you have occasional attacks of rage?
  • Do you overreact to situations or provocations?
  • Have you had episodes of rage during which you assaulted someone or destroyed property?
  • Do you have a problem with alcohol or drugs?
  • Does your family have a history of these types of problems?
  • Have you suffered head trauma or injury?
  • Do you have a history of epilepsy?
  • Do you or does someone in your family have a history of depression or anxiety disorder?

If you answer “yes” to at least two of the first four questions or have answered “yes” at least five times, you probably should consider seeking an evaluation by a mental health professional.

How Does Intermittent Explosive Disorder Affect a Person’s Life?

There are many problems associated with intermittent explosive disorder, usually as a result of the explosive outbursts that characterize the condition. Outbursts can cause severe damage to relationships and property.

Problems related to the episodes usually depend on the situations in which the behavior occurs. For example, the behavior can cause a friend or family member to fear or resent the person with intermittent explosive disorder or even feel hostile and estranged. If the person with intermittent explosive disorder is married, he could end up getting separated or divorced. And he could be fired from a job or suspended or expelled from school because of his behavior.

Explosive behavior often causes significant legal problems because of destroyed property, assault charges or vehicular accidents. Hospitalizations or incarcerations often result from the behavior, and the financial consequences can be devastating.

Problems also can result from developing depression, alcoholism or other conditions. For example, people with intermittent explosive disorder might become depressed and demoralized by their inability to control themselves. Their behavior also might cause them to become anxious, fearful and guilt-ridden. As a result, they may start performing poorly at work or school or abusing alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse increases the risk for accidents, head trauma and brain injury. A vicious cycle can develop making the problem more difficult to overcome-especially without professional help.