DMDD: What to Look For

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is characterized by temper outbursts that are frequent, severe, inconsistent with the situation at hand, and inappropriate to a child’s developmental level. Parents describe children with DMDD as having very big emotions. They seem to experience things more powerfully than their peers, and lack age-appropriate self-regulation skills to control those feelings.

Key to the disorder is not just the frequency of a child’s outbursts but his mood between outbursts, which is persistently irritable or angry. To be diagnosed with DMDD, this irritable or angry mood must occur with parents, teachers and peers. That is, strained interactions between only a child and his parents, or only the child and his teacher, are not a sign of DMDD.