MONDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Almost two-thirds of U.S. teens have had an anger attack so severe they have destroyed property, or threatened or attacked another person, a new study finds.
When these attacks persist, the syndrome can be considered intermittent explosive disorder. One in 12 U.S. teens may have the condition, which usually surfaces in late childhood, the researchers say.
"This is one of the most common adolescent disorders in America, and the most important ignored disorder among youth in America," said lead researcher Ronald Kessler, a professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
"For reasons that are unclear to me, [this] has not been on the radar screen of the psychiatric profession," he added.
Whether the anger problem has increased or was just under-recognized is unclear, Kessler said. "But we know it's a big problem." The condition can continue into adulthood and lead to depression and drug and alcohol abuse, he said.
While it is common for a child to have an explosion of anger, it is not normal for uncontrolled anger to be a steady pattern, Kessler said. "And if we are talking about a teen, it is definitely not normal and it really gets in the way of your life."
Many teens with intermittent explosive disorder have parents with violent tendencies or mothers with panic disorder, Kessler noted. Children in these situations may learn that anger is an acceptable reaction to problems, he said.
Although the problem is widespread, "there is not a great deal of scientific evidence on how to treat [intermittent explosive disorder]," Kessler said.
The report was published July 2 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
For the study, Kessler's team collected data from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement, a survey of teens 13 to 17 years old. Information prov
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