Many children have the occasional temper tantrum over something that is out of their control. However, children with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder have extremely frequent temper tantrums – on average, more than three severe emotional and physical outbursts a week.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is a relatively new diagnosis that was introduced in the Diagnostic and Statistical of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). It is a mood disorder that impacts children between the ages of six and 18. 

Symptoms of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

The common symptoms of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder include:

  • Extreme overreaction to troubling situations
  • Three or more temper tantrums or outbursts each week; these outbursts can be physical and/or verbal
  • Consistent anger and irritability, even when not having a temper tantrum or outburst
  • Difficulty in school and at home due to anger and irritability

Children can be diagnosed with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder between the ages of six and 18, and when they have had consistent symptoms for at least one year. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is a relatively new diagnosis; children who were previously diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder but did not experience manic or hypomanic episodes may actually have disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.

Causes and Risk Factors

There is no one distinct cause of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Mental health researchers are still studying what the common risk factors of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder are. 

Treatment

It is important to talk to your child’s doctor if you suspect that your child may have disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. You can work together to determine an effective treatment plan for your child. 

Because the diagnosis of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is very new, many mental health clinicians are using treatments and therapies that are known to be effective for other mental health conditions that share similar symptoms, like oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, and anxiety disorders.

Parent Involvement: Treatment for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder usually involves the parent as well as the child. Parents benefit from learning about how to best respond to angry and irritable outbursts; it is also helpful to learn about how to engage in consistent and positive parenting techniques.

Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy can be a useful tool in helping your child address their disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. In addition, a therapist can help your child work on their communication skills and learn to address anger issues before they turn into outbursts or tantrums. Sometimes, a mental health clinician may look into using applied behavioral analysis therapy. Find the right care option for your child at Sheppard Pratt. 

Education: Learning more about mental health conditions can help you recognize them and their triggers in your child. Visit the Knowledge Center to learn more about mental health conditions.

Support: Parenting a child with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder can be hard work. Find the support that you need as your child’s caregiver; locate a support group at Sheppard Pratt. 

Medication: Medication can help control some of your child’s symptoms of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Your child’s doctor may look into prescribing medications like stimulants (commonly used to treat ADHD), antidepressants (commonly used to treat depression), or atypical antipsychotics (which have been effective in remedying the physical aggression sometimes seen with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder).