To determine a diagnosis of intermittent explosive disorder and eliminate other conditions that may be causing your symptoms, expect your doctor to do a:
- Physical exam. Your doctor will try to rule out physical problems that could cause your symptoms. Your exam may include lab tests.
- Psychological evaluation. A doctor or mental health provider will talk to you about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire to help answer these questions.
To be diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder, your doctor will ask about your behavior to see if you meet the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. This manual is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
DSM criteria include:
- Multiple incidents of failure to resist aggressive impulses that resulted in deliberate destruction of property or assault of another person
- A degree of aggressiveness during incidents that's completely out of proportion to the event that triggered the behavior
- Aggressive episodes that aren't accounted for by another mental disorder and aren't due to the effects of a drug or a medical condition
Other conditions that must be ruled out before making a diagnosis of intermittent explosive disorder include other mental disorders or substance use problems.
Sept. 18, 2012
- 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.