Psychological Disorders 2022

Anger attack (intermittent explosive disorder): symptoms and treatment

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Anger attack (intermittent explosive disorder): symptoms and treatment
Anger attack (intermittent explosive disorder): symptoms and treatment

Anger attack, scientifically known as intermittent explosive disorder and popularly as Hulk Syndrome, is a disorder in which attacks of anger are generated in an uncontrolled way and sudden aggression, which can be accompanied by verbal and physical aggression that lasts about 30 minutes and that can harm the person and those around them.

Before having a fit of anger, symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and changes in consciousness may be noticed. Afterwards, it is common for the person to feel remorse, guilt and shame. This disorder is often accompanied by others, such as substance abuse, depression, OCD, and social phobia.

Treatment of intermittent explosive disorder includes the use of medications such as Fluoxetine and Sertraline, as well as cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy sessions to control impulses and anger.

Main symptoms

It is common to feel anger in stressful situations such as car crashes or children's tantrums, and this feeling is normal as long as there is awareness and control over it, with no sudden changes to a state of fury and aggressive behavior, in which you may jeopardize your own well-being and the safety of others.

However, when aggression is disproportionate to the situation that triggered the anger, it may be a sign of treatment for intermittent explosive disorder, which can be characterized by:

  • Lack of control over aggressive impulse;
  • Breaking one's own or others' belongings;
  • Sweat, tingling and muscle tremors;
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Verbal threats or physical aggression to another person without a reason that justifies this attitude;
  • Feeling of guilt and shame after the attacks.

The diagnosis of this syndrome is made by a psychiatrist based on personal history and reports from friends and family, as this disorder is only confirmed when there is repetition of aggressive behavior for several months, which suggests that this is a chronic disease.

In addition, the possibility of other behavioral changes, such as Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, must be ruled out. Understand better what borderline personality disorder is.

Causes of rage

The exact cause of the rage attack is not known, however it is believed that it may be related to factors such as family members who have more aggressive and impulsive behavior, changes in neurotransmitters and changes in the region of the brain responsible for impulse control.

In addition, it is common for people with this disorder to have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse during childhood and exposure to traumatic situations such as serious accidents or disasters.

How the treatment is done

When tantrums are frequent and out of control, it is recommended that the psychologist be consulted so that individual and/or group therapy sessions can be carried out, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can be applied to learn not only to control anger but also identify situations that can provoke a more aggressive response.

In addition to psychotherapy, the use of antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications such as Fluoxetine, Citalopram, Sertraline, Carbamazepine and Valproate may be necessary for this disorder, which help control emotions, thus reducing aggression.

Possible consequences

Intermittent explosive disorder consequences result from thoughtless actions taken during tantrums, such as job loss, suspension or expulsion from school, divorce, difficulty getting along with others, car accidents, and hospitalizations for injuries suffered during the aggression.

The aggressive condition occurs even when there is no use of alcohol, but it is usually more severe when there is consumption of alcoholic beverages, even in small amounts.

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