Interrupted explosive disorder
If a person suspects that he or she or his loved one is suffering from interrupted explosives, it is important to remember that the condition is treatable and seek the help of a professional as soon as possible.


What is interrupted explosive disorder?

Interrupted explosive disorder is an inability to suppress aggression. Persons with interruptive explosive disorder have periods of severe aggression, which begin abruptly and for which there is little or even no explanation. Interrupted explosive disorder can only be verbal, but can also become violent. In both cases, the situation can escalate quickly, sometimes to the point where the person loses complete control. The episode usually lasts less than 30 minutes and ends in guilt and embarrassment.

People diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder usually also struggle with conditions such as low mood, general anxiety and drug use. Feelings of stress, guilt and remorse are also common.

Because the symptoms match those of many other disorders, they can be effectively treated. A combination of medication and psychotherapy is ideal in the treatment of intermittent explosive disorder. So getting help from a GP, clinical psychologist or psychiatrist is a good start.



The following symptoms are indicative, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – 5), which is widely accepted as the most authoritative source worldwide. Please note Please note that an official diagnosis may only be made by a qualified person.

To be diagnosable, the following symptoms must occur:

  1. Repetitive behavioral outbursts representative of the inability to control aggressive impulses. This includes:
    1. Verbal or physical aggression towards objects, animals or other people about twice a week for a period of three months.
    2. Three harmful behavioral outbursts within a 12-month period.
  2. The outbursts are out of proportion to the situation.
  3. The repeated aggression is impulsive and holds no benefits
  4. The repeated aggression causes visible discomfort to the person and adversely affects personal and working relationships.
  5. The person must be at least six years old.
  6. There is no other explanation for the behavior (eg a manic episode or other psychological disorder).



  1. Why is treatment needed for interrupted explosive disorder?
    Without the right treatment, the symptoms of interrupted explosive disorder can get out of control and cause the individual concerned to get into trouble with society and / or the law. interrupted explosive disorder can in this respect with other diseases, e.g. diabetes, be compared. Both require ongoing pharmacological treatment (medication) and monitoring by a professional, and the results are generally much better if the person is regularly receiving psychotherapy from a psychologist. In order to prevent people or animals from being hurt or the person's behavior causing him or her to collapse with justice, professional treatment is extremely important for anyone diagnosed with interrupted explosive disorder.
  2. Who can diagnose me or a loved one?
    We recommend that you be tested and diagnosed only by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. They are trained to distinguish between different psychological disorders, which may have similar symptoms.
  3. What role does a psychologist play in the treatment of interrupted explosive disorder?
    A psychologist can diagnose interruptive explosive disorder and treat psychotherapeutic. This means that he or she can help you understand and live with your diagnosis, as well as apply a strategy that can lead to behavioral change. A psychologist in South Africa may not prescribe medication and usually works with a psychiatrist in a team.
  4. How successful is the use of medication?
    The right medication is usually successful and can completely control interrupted explosive disorder in some cases.
  5. What is the difference between a GP, clinical psychologist and psychiatrist?
    1. Family doctor: A GP has been studying medically for seven years. Because they do not specialize in psychiatry (such as a psychiatrist), they have only limited exposure to the training necessary to diagnose and treat people with psychological / psychiatric conditions. Your family doctor may prescribe medication, but is also ethically required to refer a patient to a specialist if needed.
    2. Clinical psychologist: A clinical psychologist is studying human behavior and psychotherapy, and must have at least a master's degree (six years +) in South Africa, with an internship and research that must be completed in order to register. It is the person who will help you understand and live with your psychological diagnosis (such as post-traumatic stress disorder).
    3. Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist also studied medically for seven years, but specializes in psychiatry, namely the chemical treatment of disorders related to human behavior. So a psychiatrist is the doctor who can diagnose you and prescribe the right medication for your psychological condition. The reference to "psychological states" or "psychiatric states" is exactly the same.
  6. Is there a specific type of psychologist I need to see?
    In South Africa, there are currently five different categories or specialist areas within which all psychologists must register:
    1. Clinical psychologist
    2. Counseling Psychology
    3. Educational Psychology
    4. Industrial Psychology
    5. Research Psychology

    The different categories indicate the specialist areas within which psychologists must adhere to strict regulations and comply with ethical and legal requirements. Only one clinical psychologist can make a clinical diagnosis according to the HPCSA.



If a loved one or friend is diagnosed with interruptive explosive disorder, your support and motivation can play a very important role in accepting and managing their diagnosis. Here are guidelines on how to assist an individual:

  1. Be patient. People who are under the onslaught of interrupted explosive disorder do not always have the ability to say how they feel or what they are experiencing. Give them a chance to get used to the diagnosis first, and gradually work out an effective plan to manage their lives from now on.
  2. Be informed about interrupted explosive disturbance. The more you and your loved one, family member or colleague know about the disease, the more you can work together on a plan to support the person and manage the disease.
  3. Ask what your loved one expects of you. One can easily think you know what is best for another person, but the easiest is to ask how he or she wants you to act.
  4. Listen to him or her, and don't give constant advice or try to reason with logic. It is important that the person takes responsibility for the illness and the effect it will have on his / her life. When someone makes choices on behalf of someone else, it may cause people to become dependent on you and then not want to fight the disease themselves. It is not your illness, but your loved one's. Listening is a wonderful way to support your loved one.
  5. Get to know the signs and symptoms so you can act early. Everyone's symptoms of interrupted explosive disorder do not manifest in the same way, so it is very important to understand how the person manifests in your life's symptoms. For example, when your loved one suddenly experiences significantly more anxiety than other times, you can start taking measures as long as possible.
  6. Participate in physical activities with the individual. It is not a cliché that regular exercise helps people with psychological diagnoses. Exercise relieves tension and anxiety, and aids in the production of low-mood transmitters. So regular exercise is actually a successful antidepressant.
  7. Encourage a healthy eating and sleeping pattern. An established routine not only helps the person manage their illness, but also helps to see signs / symptoms early.
  8. Take a good look at yourself! Remember, a person with diagnosed interrupted explosive disorder can also negatively impact you by involving you in their disorder. Living with a person diagnosed with anxiety can feel frustrating, exhausting and sometimes chaotic. Make time for yourself too.


If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, we suggest the following options:
  1. call your GP (if available);
  2. go to your nearest hospital emergency room;
  3. call one of the following emergency numbers: SADAG (the South African Depression and Anxiety Group) 24-hour helpline: 0800 456 789 or suicide crisis line: 0800 567 567; or
  4. contact Wie is ek?