Is Road Rage a Disease?

According to a new survey, intermittent explosive disorder may be affecting nearly 16 million people in America. What is it? What are the signs? Is it more than just road rage? This is what you need to know about Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

The definition of Intermittent Explosive Disorder, or Rage Disorder, is where there are multiple outbursts that are far beyond what is called for in the situation; often with threats, aggression, and property damage. It has an average onset age of around 14 years old. Some instances of road rage, spousal abuse, and temper outbursts can be attributed to this Rage Disorder, but not all. Some is just chalked up to bad people doing bad things.

Study findings released in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry show that the average number of lifetime attacks per sufferer was 43, with an average of $1,359 in property damage per sufferer. Four percent of these sufferers that are afflicted with Intermittent Explosive Disorder have had a recent attack. This study was from a pool of 9,282 adults in the U.S. who were questioned in a 2001-2003 face to face survey, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. 5-7% of these pooled had the disorder, reflecting in a national average of 16 million people, an average that is higher than bipolar disorder.

The disorder, usually abbreviated as IED or simply known as “Rage Disorder”, has been in several psychiatric manuals, however with a different name and criteria. This has lead to some confusion. The study’s co author, Dr. Coccaro, said “the disorder involves inadequate production or functioning of serotonin, a mood-regulating and behavior-inhibiting brain chemical. Treatment with antidepressants, including those that target serotonin receptors in the brain, is often helpful, along with behavior therapy akin to anger management.”

These study findings are very important in getting new treatments and therapies begun and with getting sufferers diagnosed properly. Many have had “anger issues” without getting this crucial diagnosis. Perhaps some of these people who have been said to have “head problems”, really do have head problems. It is with studies like this and the painstakingly detail oriented process of surveying the population that the truth can be known and then the future can be altered for these sufferers. Not to mention the better days that their victims will have when their aggressor is getting the help that he/she needs.

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