Understanding Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder And Its Symptoms


Understanding Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder And Its Symptoms

All children experience outbursts and periods of stubbornness as they grow. For those with Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD), these episodes occur frequently. These children react disproportionately to situations and are frequently irritable. It can be difficult for them to interact and behave in ways that are appropriate for their age. Before the classification of DMDD, those with these behaviors were diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder. The lack of manic and depressive episodes revealed the need for a new diagnosis.

Understanding Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder And Its Symptoms

Parents with children who are living with DMDD often struggle with the frequent outbursts of their children. They may feel like they’re poor parents or that their child is uncontrollable. This results from severe outbursts of temper that are out of sync with the child’s age. It’s common for parents speaking to therapists to describe their children as having immense emotions. Their lack of ability to self-regulate and these heightened emotional experiences are indicators of DMDD.

Other indicators of DMDD include:

  • Persistent irritability between outbursts
  • Strained relationships between teachers, peers, and parents
  • Outbursts that occur over a year at a rate of three or more times a week
  • No extended periods of elevated moods lasting more than a few hours

DMDD diagnosis can only occur during a limited period. Those before age 6 are prone to tantrums and outbursts as part of normal development. Those over 18 fall outside the range of this condition’s scope. In most cases, the symptoms will appear between the ages of 6-10.

Treatment Options for DMDD

Effective treatment options have been developed for Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. These options include both behavioral therapy and administration of medication. In many cases, your psychiatrist will use both of these methods in tandem.

  • Psychotherapeutic – Therapeutic approaches to DMDD work to help children learn emotional regulation. Dialectical behavior therapy teaches them techniques to avoid prolonged or extreme outbursts. Combining this therapy with parental management training often produces good results.
  • Pharmacological – When the above techniques prove ineffective or are unavailable, medication can be prescribed. Anti-depressants and stimulant medication are often the first approach. In cases where this proves ineffective or where rapid results are needed, antipsychotics may be prescribed.

The vital aspect of dialectical therapy that helps it produce results is validating the emotions of the children. This approach helps the child embrace techniques for managing periods of intense emotion. These skills take the form of distress tolerance, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness skills, and mindfulness. These same skills are taught to the parents. These skills aid them in managing the child’s outbursts and their response to them.

Learn More By Scheduling A Pediatric Psychiatrist Consultation 

The earlier you seek help for this condition, the sooner you can restore peace to your family. Children with DMDD benefit from receiving treatment early. Together your family and their pediatric psychiatrist can make strides towards controlling the symptoms of DMDD.                                                                        

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April is the founder of Prestige Mental Health and is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC) who is qualified to practice primary care and psychiatry. She is passionate about providing quality, compassionate, and comprehensive mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults. April specializes in psychiatric illnesses including but not limited to depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, PTSD/trauma, bipolar, and schizophrenia.