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Do I Have Intermittent Explosive Disorder ?“

Do I Have Intermittent Explosive Disorder ?“

“James is aware that he has a temper. His friends and siblings usually describe him as always angry, but he can’t help it. Many times, he knows that his reaction is more aggressive and explosive than the situation warrants but to no avail. He explodes before he knows it and feels so relieved when he’s done.” 

Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is a chronic psychological disorder characterized by sudden and repeated episodes of violent, aggressive or impulsive behavior, which is often exaggerated when compared to the triggering situation.  People with IED may throw tantrums, physically or verbally abuse others, break things, or destroy property during an episode. 


IED is commonly observed in people under the age of 40 and symptoms first appear during their teenage years. Symptoms tend to reduce in severity as the person ages.  

However, how do you know if you have IED? Look out for any of these:   

Are you displaying any of these symptoms? 


Like any other disorder, intermittent explosive disorder has its own signs and symptoms. Here’s what to look out for: 

  • Sudden explosive episodes that occur with little or no warning. 
  • Episodes may occur frequently and accompanied by intervals of non-aggressive behavior. 
  • Explosive episodes lasting less than 30 minutes 
  • Feelings of rage 
  • Feeling irritable, aggressive, or impulsive most of the time 
  • Aggressive explosives may occur after or be accompanied by physical symptoms such as: racing thoughts, tremors, increased heart rate, headaches, muscle tension, tightness in your chest and increased energy.  
  • Feeling relieved or tired after the episode. In the long-term, you may feel embarrassed, or remorseful. 

Has it affected your life in any of these ways? 

Intermittent explosive disorder is not easy to deal with and can affect your interpersonal relationships, work, and schooling. Have you noticed any of these? 

  • Work or/and school problems: you might have lost your job, been expelled or suspended from school, and had trouble with law enforcement as a result of this disorder. 
  • Having constant fights (either verbal or physical) with the people around you. Or do these people describe you as always angry? You might have suffered a divorce, family stress, loss of friendships and romantic partners. 
  • Mood disorders: mood disorders such as anxiety and depression often occur alongside intermittent explosive disorder. 
  • Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, ulcers, heart disease, and chronic pain tend to be common among people with intermittent explosive disorder. 
  • Substance use and abuse: you might have observed that you use psychoactive drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, or alcohol as a means of coping with the anger. 

Do you feel out of control before an episode? 


As stated earlier, many people with IED recognize that they act in a manner out of proportion to the situation, but they feel helpless to stop it. People with IED often feel like the situation and their emotional response to it is out of their control. They don’t understand why you are so angry and although you feel relieved after an episode, this relief may be followed by regret and embarrassment.  

If you or a loved one has any of the above symptoms, it is time to seek help. It is not a “normal” personality trait, but one that requires attention. Speak to a licensed mental health professional to begin your journey to recovery.  



Intermittent Explosive Disorder is a chronic psychological disorder that can affect aspect of your life. Although the cause of IED is not completely understood, it can be managed through therapy, lifestyle changes, and medications.