The exact cause of intermittent explosive disorder is unknown, but it's probably caused by a number of environmental and biological factors. The disorder typically begins in childhood — after the age of 6 years — or during adolescence and is more common in people under the age of 40.

  • Environment. Most people with this disorder grew up in families where explosive behavior and verbal and physical abuse were common. Being exposed to this type of violence at an early age makes it more likely these children will exhibit these same traits as they mature.
  • Genetics. There may be a genetic component, causing the disorder to be passed down from parents to children.
  • Brain chemistry. There may be differences in the way serotonin, an important chemical messenger in the brain, works in people with intermittent explosive disorder.
Aug. 25, 2015