Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder is a mental illness found in children and adolescents characterized by frequent angry outbursts and being consistently irritable. Their irrationally explosive reaction to disappointment is greatly out of proportion to the situation. It is not uncommon for someone who suffers from disruptive mood dysregulation disorder to get misdiagnosed as having oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), anxiety disorders, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), among others.

Besides having a child become misdiagnosed, it is also very possible for them to not get diagnosed at all. This is due to the fact that children will inevitably argue with their parents or act-out in some capacity at some point in their lives. So, their temper tantrums may get looked at as nothing more than them being a normal child and not a child suffering from an illness such as disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.

Leaving this condition untreated can be very damaging for the child. Besides the obvious reasons of having their disorder worsen, allowing disruptive mood dysregulation disorder to go untreated may also result in them developing an additional mental illness, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or antisocial personality disorder, among others.

If you notice that your child is extremely irritable and expresses severe temper tantrums for at least 12 months, then it may be time for you to seek out professional help from a therapist or a psychiatrist to ensure that your child gets the proper help that they should receive.

Symptoms of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

A child experiencing this disorder will find themselves to be very angry most of the time and will often experience very intense outbursts that stem from being deeply angered. The symptoms of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder may begin as early as preschool.

They may experience their outbursts at least three times per week. A child with this disorder may scream and yell for hours on end if things don’t go their way.

When this occurs and their parent doesn’t give them what they want, then the child’s symptoms of this disorder will likely become exacerbated, which will cause them to lash out on their parent even more aggressively. For instance, they may throw toys at their parent or bite them. This makes it extremely difficult for the parent to effectively help the child with their behavior.

Below, you will see some more common symptoms of this disorder:

  • Severe temper tantrums
  • Often irritable
  • Anger outbursts
  • Harming others due to anger
  • Is easily “set-off”

Causes of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

The exact cause of this disorder is not entirely understood as there is not much information about this condition. Nevertheless, genetics and one’s environment may both be very significant causes of mental illness, including disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. For example, a child who has a family history of mental illness may have a higher chance of developing this condition.

If they were to have such a history, then they may also have a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness as well. Not everyone who has a family history of mental illness also has a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness. Someone with such genetics may then only need to experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.

A traumatic event that may cause a young child to develop this disorder can be that perhaps they were physically or verbally abused by their parents. They may have also grown up in a broken home that was riddled with arguments and abuse. This abuse doesn’t necessarily have to be directly inflicted on the child to greatly affect them.

The reality is that we do not know what exactly causes disruptive mood dysregulation disorder to develop. Be that as it may, there is an overwhelming consensus among most mental health professionals that both genetics and one’s environment play very significant roles in the development of any given mental illness.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder Treatment

Psychotherapy and medication may be able to help treat the symptoms of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. However, there is no form of treatment that is designed specifically for this condition. With that being said, psychiatrists and therapists may merely work toward treating individual symptoms, as opposed to using a form of therapy to treat the illness as a whole.

Psychiatric medication such as mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medication may be able to effectively treat the many symptoms associated with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. For example, a psychiatrist may prescribe Zoloft (anti-depressant) if the child suffering from this mood disorder is experiencing a great deal of depression along with their anxiety. The same can be said if they are experiencing more moodiness, as they would likely then take a mood stabilizer of some sort.

Besides medication, someone with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder may also benefit from psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), among others. CBT may be very advantageous for someone with this illness as it can help them to become much more aware of their thinking patterns. It can be a very productive way to work through anger and other emotions which cause a great deal of mental anguish within the child.

Family therapy may be very beneficial as it can allow the child to be with their parent so that they can work through their concerns together in the presence of a mental health professional. DBT is another form of therapy that is very effective at helping people to better regulate their emotions. This form of treatment, as well as mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) may be very helpful as it teaches you how to cope with very strong emotions such as anger.

If you think you or your child is suffering from this disorder, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that they can be properly diagnosed and treated. Upon seeing your doctor, he may refer you to see a specialist such as a therapist or a psychiatrist to be further treated.