Disorders and Treatment
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In the new, fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (referred to as the DSM-5), a new mental health diagnosis for children has been established: disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD).
DMDD is characterized by frequent, severe temper tantrums that are extremely out of proportion in intensity and duration than a normal childhood tantrum, and these tantrums interfere with functioning in everyday life.
While all children can be irritable and moody and throw tantrums from time to time, the difference in those with DMDD is that they experience an average of three severe temper outbursts per week for one year or more. These outbursts need to take place in more than one place, meaning they need to occur at home, school and/or with friends in a social setting.
Furthermore, between these outbursts, children with DMDD generally are seen as being irritable or angry for most of the day and almost every day.
Onset of symptoms of DMDD must occur before the age of 10, and a diagnosis should not be made before the age of 6 or after the age of 18.
There are two other mental health disorders that have similar symptoms to DMDD, including oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and bipolar disorder. It was once thought that children now diagnosed with DMDD may suffer from one of these two disorders.
However, research has found that children with DMDD are not typically diagnosed with bipolar disorder when they are adults, as was once thought. Rather, children with DMDD are more likely to develop anxiety and depression, underscoring why a proper diagnosis is essential. In particular, a proper diagnosis is essential because the way bipolar disorder is treated is vastly different than depression or anxiety.
Source: DSM-5 Fact Sheet: Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
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