Symptom Tests for Children

[Self-Test] Could Your Teen Have Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

If your family walks on eggshells to avoid triggering an explosive, unpredictable, sometimes violent reaction from your teen, then we recommend taking this symptom test for Intermittent Explosive Disorder and sharing the results with a medical professional.

What Is Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) affects 1 out of every 12 teenagers, according to the Depression Alliance. IED — and its outbursts of sudden rage, anger, and frustration — can negatively impact family life, social relationships, and academic performance. Symptoms typically appear in late childhood or adolescence, but children may show signs as young as 6 years old, according to Child Mind Institute.

Answer the following questions to determine if your teenager shows possible signs of Intermittent Explosive Disorder, and then share the results with a medical professional for further evaluation.

This questionnaire is designed to determine whether your teen demonstrates symptoms similar to those of intermittent explosive disorder (IED). If you answer ‘Very Frequently’ or ‘Often’ to a significant number of these questions, consult a licensed mental health practitioner. An accurate diagnosis can only be made through clinical evaluation.

Has your teen injured or assaulted an animal purposely?

When your teen becomes angry, does his or her reaction seem disproportionate to the situation? For example, if someone cuts in front of them, do they become enraged and push or shove the person out of line?

Has your teen caused physical injury to other people — siblings, parents, other relatives, peers, or people he or she does not know? The injury may be mild, such as falling after being pushed or shoved, or more serious, such as from a punch or a weapon.

Has your teen acted in self-harming ways, such as cutting himself or herself, expressing suicidal thoughts, or even attempting suicide?

Has your teen described a feeling of pressure that builds up in his or her chest and head prior to having an explosive episode? They may have a headache, palpitations, a tingling feeling, or tremors during the time when the pressure is building, during the episode, or shortly after. They may have racing thoughts and the feeling that they cannot control their thoughts.

Do any of your teen’s biological relatives have a history of anger issues like frequently “flying into a rage” for no reason or verbally/physically abusing others, even if no diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder was ever made?

Has your teen exhibited violent outbursts at least three times in the past year? These episodes may include injury to himself or another person, harm to an animal, or destruction of property.

Does your teen exhibit anger, but not violent outbursts? These episodes may include verbal aggression such as heated arguments, extremely contrary behavior, temper tantrums or verbal bullying without physical harm or destruction of property.

Does your teen struggle to maintain friendships because his or her peers find them bossy and inflexible? Do peers prefer to not deal with their episodes of anger and avoid spending time with them?

When your teen has an explosive episode, does it typically last 30 minutes or fewer? Does she exhibit short episodes that begin with a build-up of tension, followed by an angry explosion, and then a feeling relief because it is over? Is she fatigued after such an episode?

Does your teen have a history of verbally abusing caregivers and siblings? For example, does he bully younger siblings or yell at them if they do anything he perceives as a slight? Does he scream at his parents when they give him a directive he doesn’t like?

Does your teen become easily frustrated? When faced with a difficult task, such as a difficult homework assignment, does he or she become frustrated and then aggressive or angry? Do they become upset and frustrated when things do not go their way?

Has your teen had run-ins with the law? These may be minor, such as citations for vandalism or loitering, more serious infractions that brought with them the financial burden of retribution, fines, lawyers and court costs.

Does everyone in the household “walk on eggshells” in an effort to keep your teen calm and not trigger his or her anger?

When your teen is frustrated or angry, does it often lead to violent behavior? For example, does it seem he or she is unable to control their emotions and may lash out by yelling, swearing, hitting, pushing, kicking, or breaking objects without any regard to property?

(Optional) Would you like to receive your Intermittent Explosive Disorder symptom test results — plus more helpful resources — via email from ADDitude?

Can’t see the self-test questions above? Click here to open this test in a new window.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder: Next Steps

1. ReadWhen Anger Overpowers Logic — and Love
2. Learn: About Intermittent Explosive Disorder
3. Take This Test: Hyperactive Impulsive ADHD Symptom Test for Children
4. Take This Test: Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Teens
5. Take This Test: General Anxiety Disorder for Children