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Quick Facts on Intermittent Explosive Disorder

A brief overview of the signs and symptoms of intermittent explosive disorder and how it's treated in children and adolescents.


Kids with intermittent explosive disorder (IED) exhibit short episodes of intense, uncontrollable anger or aggression with very little or no apparent cause. It usually shows up in late childhood or adolescence, and eventually leads to a higher risk of self-harm or suicide in adolescents and young adults. Children with IED tend to feel a lack of control over their behavior, resulting in both verbal and physical outbursts of anger.


  • Frequent but mild outbursts such as tantrums or fights
  • Inability to resist impulses of anger
  • Rare, more intense explosions that can cause physical harm to people or animals, or damage to objects
  • Low tolerance for frustrating situations, resulting in disproportionately large and aggressive outbursts
  • Explosions that last less than 30 minutes during which anger isn’t directed at anything tangible

Treatment of Intermittent Explosive Disorder

There are two components to the typical treatment for IED. One is the psychotherapeutic component, which uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help kids identify triggers for their episodes and manage their anger when faced with these triggers. This component may also involve the child’s parents and teachers.

The other is the pharmacological component, which combines various medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication to treat the symptoms of IED. There are no medications specifically designed to treat IED.

This article was last reviewed or updated on July 23, 2021.