Intermittent Explosive Disorder in Adults

ICD-10 Code: F63.81

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) is part of a cluster of diagnoses called the disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders. Disruptive, impulse control and conduct disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that include:

  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder
  • Conduct Disorder

These disorders are characterized by the presence of difficult, aggressive, or antisocial behavior. It is often associated with physical or verbal injury to the self, others, or objects or with violating the rights of others (e.g., destruction of property). These behaviors can appear in several forms and can be defensive, premeditated or impulsive. Individuals with disruptive, impulse control and conduct disorders may have an irritable temperament, be impulsive or inattentive, be defiant towards adults, be aggressive towards peers, and lack problem solving skills. They may also have a coercive interaction style and lack social skills.

Oppositional defiant disorder is defined as defiant, hostile, and disobedient behavior, usually directed at authority figures. Intermittent explosive disorder is explosive outbursts of anger, often to the point of rage, that are disproportionate to the situation at hand. Conduct disorder is repetitive and persistent aggression toward others in which the basic rights of others are violated. Disruptive, impulse control and conduct disorders appear to have addictive properties as they tend to have strong aspects of compulsion, craving, loss of control, and hedonistic release.

What is Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

IED is a psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 5% of adults. IED is characterized by recurrent behavioral outbursts representing a failure to control aggressive impulses. Adults with IED have low frustration tolerances and are disproportionately enraged by small annoyances.

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Understanding Intermittent Explosive Disorder

IED is more prevalent among younger individuals. The average age of onset is 14 years old. IED is more prevalent among adults with a high school education or less. It is also commonly found in adults who have experience early-childhood or adolescent physical or emotional trauma.

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How is intermittent explosive disorder treated?

IED is treatable. Published treatment recommendations for IED include Hospital Physician and UpToDate.  


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