Rage outbursts linked to blood proteins


Blow-ups, short tempers, road rage, hostility, and similar outbursts to which we've given various names may have a biological basis. A new study shows that people who display hostile outbursts, often diagnosed as intermittent explosive disorder, show signs of inflammation due to proteins in the blood.

The study was headed by Dr. Emil Coccaro, professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago. The research was published in JAMA Psychiatry earlier this month and points towards a possible pharmaceutical treatment outside of psychoactive drugs.

Currently, medication and behavior therapy are the preferred treatments for intermittent explosive disorder (IED). About sixteen million Americans suffer from this problem. These methods are not always effective, however, working to keep less than half of those patients in check, the study notes.

The research shows that a possible anti-inflammatory medication that would reduce blood proteins may be the missing link for many with IED. The research showed that two indicators of high inflammation are common to those diagnosed with IED than they are to those who have not been diagnosed. Since this inflammation also links to other problems, such as heart disease and stroke, the study says, treating it could help with other medical symptoms as well.

What is not known or answered in the study is whether the inflammation is caused by or causes the aggressive behavior. The proteins, C-reactive and interleukin-6, were the subject of the study and will likely be the subject of further study as researchers attempt to answer the question of causation.

Meanwhile, this may open a new path towards treatment.


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