A new study led by researchers from Harvard Medical School (HMS) reported an increasing trend of uncontrollable anger in adolescents in the United States in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry on July 2, 2012. The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site the same day.
Almost 66 percent of U. S. adolescents (6 million) have experienced at least one attack of uncontrollable anger that involved threats of physical violence, destruction of property, or physical violence directed toward another individual.
The researchers based their assessments on the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement. The National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement is a representative sampling of 10,148
U. S. adolescents that involved face-to-face interviews.
The scientists conclude that one in twelve adolescents meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), a syndrome characterized by persistent uncontrollable anger attacks not accounted for by other mental disorders. IED was found to be quite persistent through the middle years of life and could develop into depression and substance abuse.
IED is often undertreated because few adolescents receive counseling or treatment directed specifically at anger issues. Only 6.5 percent of the test participants received treatment specifically for anger while 37.8 percent had received treatment for other emotional issues in the year prior to the interviews involved in this assessment.
“To be diagnosed with IED, an individual must have had three episodes of impulsive aggressiveness "grossly out of proportion to any precipitating psychosocial stressor," at any time in their life, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”
IED could be one factor in the up-tick of youth related violence and homicide that Birmingham has seen this summer.
Ronald Kessler, McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at HMS, Katie McLaughlin, an HMS assistant professor of pediatrics and psychology at Boston Children's Hospital, Jennifer Greif Green at Boston University School of Education, Alan Zaslavsky, an HMS professor of health care policy, as well as statistical programmer and data analyst, Irving Hwang, and Nancy Sampson, a project director at HMS collaborated on this research.