Signs, Symptoms, and Effects of Teen Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Understanding Teen IED

Learn More About Teen Intermittent Explosive Disorder

When a teen displays emotional outbursts that are both aggressive in nature and unprovoked, he or she may be suffering from intermittent explore disorder, or IED. This mental disorder can also trigger impulsive actions, unwarranted hostility, and instances in which the youth assaults people and/or animals or damages property.

As this illness’s name implies, episodes of emotional deregulation and acting out are intermittent, and often cause the teen to feel guilty or embarrassed after they occur. Because of this pattern of verbal and physical aggression followed by these feelings, a teen can find it exceptionally difficult to function in a healthy manner at school, home, and in the community. Furthermore, the longer this disorder’s symptoms persist, the more likely a teen is to develop other mental health concerns and experience discord in several areas of life.

Since IED symptoms can thwart a teen’s academic pursuits and efforts to live a healthy life, it is important for parents and/or legal guardians to seek out professional treatment for the youth as soon as feasibly possible. With proper treatment IED can be a manageable condition.


Statistics of Intermittent Explosive Disorder in Teens

Research has concluded that almost nine percent of teens meet diagnostic criteria for intermittent explosive disorder. Additionally, it is widely agreed upon by mental health experts that boys suffer from IED at a higher rate than girls. Lastly, it has been reported that over eighty percent of youth diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder also meet diagnostic criteria for other mental health disorders, including bipolar I disorder and depressive disorders.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors for Teens with Intermittent Explosive Disorder

For many parents and guardians, trying to understand why and how a teen comes to struggle with intermittent explosive disorder can be confusing. However, through research, experts can now explain the possible causes and risk factors for IED. The following summarizes what researchers have found, which can explain why some teens struggle with intermittent explosive disorder while others do not:

Genetic: It is widely known that disorders like depression and anxiety can be heritable. In terms of intermittent explosive disorder, researchers also believe that this illness can be passed on from one’s biological parents. Therefore if a teen has a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who also struggles with IED, it can be said that that youth may come to battle this disorder as well.

Environmental: In addition to genetic factors, there are certain environmental influences that can trigger the onset of intermittent explosive disorder symptoms. For example, teens who are exposed to chaos and violence, or those who have been or are subjected to abuse, are more likely to display symptoms synonymous with IED. Furthermore, if a teen has a history of being surrounded by aggressive family members or peers, intermittent explosive disorder symptoms also have a higher chance of manifesting.

Risk Factors:

  • Being the victim of abuse and/or neglect
  • Experiencing trauma
  • Family history of IED or other mental health conditions
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Personal history of substance abuse
  • Being male
  • Being exposed to violence and crime

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Teen Intermittent Explosive Disorder

There are various behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms that can be present when a teen is grappling with intermittent explosive disorder. If you notice that a young person in your life is displaying the following signs of IED, it will be beneficial to seek out an assessment for a treatment provider so that he or she can receive a conclusive diagnosis and begin services:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Engaging in self-harming behaviors
  • Extreme, unprovoked angry outbursts and temper tantrums
  • Verbal aggressiveness
  • Physical aggressiveness
  • Engaging in instigative behaviors towards others

Physical symptoms:

  • Tingling sensations
  • Injuries resulting from acting out physically
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest tightness
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Tremors
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Headaches

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Hearing echoes
  • Poor impulse control
  • Racing thoughts

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of shame
  • Anger
  • Excessive agitation
  • Extreme irritability
  • Feelings of rage
  • Periods of emotional detachment


Effects of Teen Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Because the symptoms of IED can bring about drastic emotional and behavioral disturbances, it is likely that, if this disorder is left untreated, several adverse effects will occur as a result. However, if a teen receives proper treatment, the following effects can be avoided:

  • Incarceration
  • Social isolation
  • Deteriorated self-esteem
  • Onset of self-harming behaviors
  • Developing an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol
  • Disciplinary action at school
  • Academic failure
  • Familial discord
  • Failing to develop and/or maintain healthy relationships
  • Interactions with law enforcement

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders & the Complexity of Teen Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Should a teen receive treatment for intermittent explosive disorder, he or she will be assessed by mental health professionals to determine if other mental health disorders are present at the same time as IED. This is done because it is quite common for other disorders to co-occur. The following mental disorders are those that are known to impact a teen’s life at the same time as intermittent explosive disorder

  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Substance use disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Conduct disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
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