Thursday, July 5th, 2012
Teenagers almost universally wrestle with angst, moodiness, and anger, but a new study has found that as many as 1 in 12 American adolescents may suffer from an anger disorder called intermittent explosive disorder (IED). From CNN.com:
Study author Katie McLaughlin, a clinical psychologist and psychiatric epidemiologist, says IED is one of the most widespread mental health disorders – and one of the least studied.
“There’s a contrast between how common the disorder is and how much we know about it,” she said.
IED is characterized by recurrent episodes of aggression that involve violence, a threat of violence and/or destruction of property, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It often begins around the age of 12, but scientists don’t know whether it continues into adulthood. (A similar study which focused on adults found 7.2% met the criteria for IED).
“Intermittent explosive disorder is as real or unreal as many psychiatric disorders,” wrote CNN’s mental health expert Dr. Charles Raison in an e-mail. “There are people who get really pissed off really quick and then regret it, just as there are people who get unreasonably sad and depressed. In both cases, but especially with [IED], it’s really just a description of how people behave.”
In this large study, researchers authors interviewed 6,483 adolescents and surveyed their parents. They excluded anyone who had another mental health disorder, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder(ODD) or conduct disorder (CD).
Of the teenage participants, 7.8% reported at least three IED anger attacks during their life. More than 5% had at least three attacks in the same year.
Image: Angry teenager, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
In a groundbreaking new study published in the journal Emotion, scientists studied high-quality audio recordings of over 100 toddlers having temper tantrums, and discovered that the emotional outbursts familiar to every parent actually have predictable rhythms and patterns that, when properly understood, can help parents, teachers, and caregivers tell the difference between a “normal” tantrum, and a sign of an emotional or behavioral disorder.
The scientists then analyzed the audio. They found that different tantrum sounds had very distinct audio signatures. When the sounds were laid down on a graph, the researchers found that different sounds emerged and faded in a definite pattern. Unsurprisingly, sounds like yelling and screaming usually came together.
“Screaming and yelling and kicking often go together,” Potegal said. “Throwing things and pulling and pushing things tend to go together. Combinations of crying, whining, falling to the floor and seeking comfort — and these also hang together.”
But where one age-old theory of tantrums might suggest that meltdowns begin in anger (yells and screams) and end in sadness (cries and whimpers), Potegal found that the two emotions were more deeply intertwined.
“The impression that tantrums have two stages is incorrect,” Potegal said. “In fact, the anger and the sadness are more or less simultaneous.”
Green and Potegal found that sad sounds tended to occur throughout tantrums. Superimposed on them were sharp peaks of yelling and screaming: anger.
The trick in getting a tantrum to end as soon as possible, Potegal said, was to get the child past the peaks of anger. Once the child was past being angry, what was left was sadness, and sad children reach out for comfort. The quickest way past the anger, the scientists said, was to do nothing. Of course, that isn’t easy for parents or caregivers to do.
Image: Toddler having a tantrum, via Shutterstock.