• What Is Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder?

    by Caroline Ryther
    on Sep 20th, 2018

As you probably know (or might even have hands-on experience), children are prone to temper tantrums every now and then when growing up. In all honesty, it’s not easy dealing with an overly emotional child, but with time, most parents learn how to recognize situations which can lead to a tantrum and how to properly react in order to end these episodes.

Sometimes, however, temper tantrums can become so constant and out of control that parents begin to suspect there’s something else the matter with their children. In certain situations they would be right, seeing that this behavior can be an indicator of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD).

DMDD was first introduced in 2013, in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The reason why DMDD was developed as a diagnosis that year was because experts wanted to lower the overdiagnosis of bipolar disorder in children.

But what is disruptive mood dysregulation disorder exactly? DMDD is a psychiatric condition (classified as a depressive disorder) that develops in children and adolescents between 6 and 17 years old. It is characterized by frequent, out-of-proportion temper tantrums (more severe than in other children of the same age), and a persistently irritable or angry mood. Unlike their peers, children with DMDD have higher chances of developing depression or anxiety later in life.

Most Common Signs of DMDD and Risk Factors

The symptoms of DMDD resemble those of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), but it’s most commonly mistaken for childhood bipolar disorder.

For children diagnosed with DMDD, temper tantrums are usually:

Children who suffer from DMDD may be more prone to moodiness, irritability, anxiousness, and generally difficult behavior, but they are also at risk of developing other disorders when they get older such as:

If there’s a family member who’s had or has a psychiatric condition, this may also increase the risk of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. We should also mention that male children are more likely to develop DMDD.

Treating Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

After a doctor diagnoses a child with DMDD, they will start working towards creating the right therapy to help them. This treatment may involve medication (antidepressants, stimulants, and atypical antipsychotics), psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or a combination of all of the above. Naturally, treatments that don’t require medication should be explored first, but if your doctor notices it’s not working, they will turn to medication.


If you suspect that your child has disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Best and schedule a consultation.


Contact us:

Phone: 847-306-8938

Email: pm@mind.md

Author Caroline Ryther

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