Controlling your anger
If you recognize your own behavior in the description of intermittent explosive disorder, talk with your doctor about treatment options or ask for a referral to a mental health professional. Some techniques that may be part of your treatment include:
- Unlearn bad behavior. Coping well with anger is a learned behavior. Cognitive behavioral therapy or anger management will help you recognize what pushes your buttons and how to respond in ways that work for you instead of against you.
- Develop a plan. Work with your doctor on developing a plan of action for when you feel yourself getting angry. For example, if think you might lose control, try to remove yourself from that situation. Go for a walk or call a trusted friend to try to calm down.
- Avoid alcohol and other substance use. These can increase aggressiveness and the risk of explosive outbursts.
If your loved one won't get help
Unfortunately, many people with intermittent explosive disorder don't seek treatment. If you're involved in a relationship with someone who has intermittent explosive disorder, take steps to protect yourself and your children. The abuse isn't your fault. No one deserves to be abused.
Create an escape plan to stay safe from domestic violence
If you see that a situation is getting worse, and suspect your loved one may be on the verge of an explosive episode, try to safely remove yourself and your children from the scene. However, leaving someone with an explosive temper can be dangerous. Consider taking these steps before an emergency arises:
- Call a domestic violence hot line or a women's shelter for advice, either when the abuser isn't home or from a friend's house.
- Keep all firearms locked away or hidden. Don't give the abuser the key or combination to the lock.
- Pack an emergency bag that includes items you'll need when you leave, such as extra clothes, keys, personal papers, medications and money. Hide it or leave the bag with a friend or neighbor.
- Know where you'll go and how you'll get there if you feel threatened, even if it means you have to leave in the middle of the night.
Get help to protect yourself from domestic violence
In an emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number or your local law enforcement agency. These resources also can help:
Sept. 18, 2012
- Your doctor or the emergency room. If you're injured, doctors and nurses can treat and document your injuries and let you know what local resources are available to keep you safe.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233). This hot line is available for crisis intervention and referrals to resources, such as women's shelters.
- A local women's shelter or crisis center. Shelters and crisis centers generally provide 24-hour emergency shelter, as well as advice on legal matters and advocacy and support services.
- A counseling or mental health center. Many communities offer counseling and support groups for people in abusive relationships. Be wary of advice to seek couples or marriage counseling. If violence has escalated to the point that you're afraid of your partner, this type of counseling won't be enough. Remember that your safety comes first.
- A local court. Your local court can help you get a restraining order that legally orders the abuser to stay away from you or face arrest. Local advocates may be available to help guide you through the process.
- Ebert MH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3289149. Accessed Aug. 7, 2012.
- Nickerson A, et al. The relationship between childhood exposure to trauma and intermittent explosive disorder. Psychiatry Research. 2012;197:128.
- Intermittent explosive disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Aug. 7, 2012.
- Coccaro E. Intermittent explosive disorder in adults: Epidemiology, clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 7, 2012.
- Coccaro E. Intermittent explosive disorder in adults: Treatment and prognosis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 7, 2012.
- McCloskey MS, et al. Prevalence of suicidal and self-injurious behavior among subjects with intermittent explosive disorder. Psychiatry Research. 2008;158:248.
- Safety planning. National Domestic Violence Hotline. http://www.thehotline.org/get-help/safety-planning/. Accessed Aug. 7, 2012.
- Finding resources in your area. National Domestic Violence Hotline. http://www.thehotline.org/2012/07/finding-resources-in-your-area/. Accessed Aug. 7, 2012.
- Kung S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 23, 2012.
- Coccaro EF. Intermittent explosive disorder as a disorder of impulsive aggression for DSM-5. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2012;169:577.