How is intermittent explosive disorder diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with taking the individual’s general medical history, psychiatric history and conducting a physical and mental status exam. To be diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, an individual must display a failure to control aggressive impulses as defined by either of the following:

  • Verbal aggression (temper tantrums, verbal arguments or fights) or physical aggression toward property, animals or individuals, occurring twice weekly, on average, for a period of 3 months. The aggression does not result in physical harm to individuals or animals or destruction of property. Or
  • Three episodes involving damage or destruction of property and/or physical assault involving physical injury against animals or other individuals occurring within a 12-month period.

The degree of aggression displayed during the outbursts is greatly out of proportion to situation. In addition, the outbursts are not pre-planned; they are impulse and/or anger based. Also, the outbursts are not better explained by another mental disorder, medical condition, or substance abuse.

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