Overview

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is a condition in which a child is chronically irritable and experiences frequent, severe temper outbursts that seem grossly out of proportion to the situation at hand. DMDD is a new disorder created to more accurately categorize some children who had previously been diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder, though their behavior was not episodic, as it is in the latter disorder.

Symptoms of DMDD

  • Severe temper outbursts that occur, on average, three or more times per week
  • The child’s mood between outbursts is consistently angry or irritable
  • This pattern of frequent outbursts, plus consistent anger or irritability between outbursts, continues for 12 or more months, without a break in symptoms of 3 or more months
  • Onset typically takes place before age 10

Treatment

Medication, psychotherapy and a combination of the two are used as treatments for DMDD. Because the diagnosis is a new one, clinicians are still researching which treatments work best. Stimulant medications, antidepressant medications like SSRIs, and a kind of therapy known as applied behavior analysis have all been used. Parents should work closely with the doctor to learn what works best for your child. Parents and other caregivers should also be taught specific strategies you can use when responding to a child’s disruptive behavior.

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