At the beginning of December, the American Psychiatric Association voted to approve revision..." /> At the beginning of December, the American Psychiatric Association voted to approve revision..." />

Explosive Tantrums: Disruptive Mood Dysregulation and the DSM-V

Headshot of angry young child yellingAt the beginning of December, the American Psychiatric Association voted to approve revisions to the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). The DSM provides guidelines for mental health diagnoses and aims to promote consistent diagnostic criteria among mental health professionals. One of the new additions to the DSM, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD), is targeted specifically to children.

What Is DMDD?
DMDD meets many of the diagnostic criteria previously used to diagnose pediatric bipolar—a controversial diagnosis that has been on the rise in recent years. The new so-called disorder is characterized by chronic mood instability, extreme tantrums, and difficulty controlling one’s emotions. The diagnostic criteria include:

1. Severe temper tantrums that are disproportionate to the situation and that are not consistent with the child’s developmental level; a 2-year-old throwing a tantrum because she wanted a new toy, for example, probably would not meet this diagnostic criteria
2. The tantrums must be regular, consistent, and, on average, occur at least three times a week
3. Consistent angry or irritable mood
4. Symptoms have been present for 12 months or longer, and the child has not been without symptoms for longer than three consecutive months
5. The child must be over the age of 6, and the behavior must be present in at least two contexts; a child who is angry with an unstable mood only when at school would not qualify for a diagnosis

How Is It Treated?
There is disagreement about how DMDD should be treated. Some clinicians argue that it is directly related to bipolar and that the best line of treatment is the use of antipsychotic and mood stabilizer medications. However, others emphasize that it is more closely related to depressive issues and that antidepressants and, occasionally, anti-anxiety medications might be most effective. Because the diagnosis is reserved only for children, family therapy can be helpful and enable parents and siblings to adjust to a child’s diagnosis. Lifestyle changes, a regular schedule, and patient, consistent parenting can also help. Symptoms often are made worse by stress and sudden changes, so preparing children for stressful events could also be helpful.

The DSM has a far-reaching impact on the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions as well as on insurance payments for mental health treatment. Consequently, changes to the DSM are often controversial, and the new diagnosis of DMDD is no exception. While proponents of the disorder’s inclusion argue that it is less stigmatizing than a diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder, opponents emphasize that the diagnosis is stigmatizing in its own right. Further, the diagnostic criteria could be construed in such a way that they apply to a wide variety of normal childhood behavior, and many of the symptoms are commonly exhibited by children under immense stress or who have recently experienced a loss or trauma. Diagnosing them with a mental health condition could potentially minimize the impact of the child’s environment and prevent appropriate treatment.


  1. DSM-V child and adolescent disorders work group. (2010). Justification for temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria. American Psychiatric Association.
  2. Frances, A. (2012, December 03). DSM-V is a guide, not a bible: Simply ignore its ten worst changes. Huffington Post. Retrieved from
  3. Pliszka, S. R. (2011). Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder: Clarity or confusion? The ADHD Report, 19(5), 7-11. doi: 10.1521/adhd.2011.19.5.7

© Copyright 2013 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Georgia

    January 6th, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Sorry, but I don’t see this as something that even remotely warrants a diagnosis other than a good talking to and a revamping of parenting skills!
    I think that there are far too many parents who are too permissive with their kids and allow them to act like spoiled little brats when they really need to do a better job with some stricter parenting and setting expectations for their child’s behavior.
    I see a lot of them just trying to talk to their kids or even resporting to spankings to little effect. There are so many other methods that don’t include any of these things, and one of the biggest I think is telling your children from a very early age exactly what you expect of them and then insisting that they meet those standards and expectations.

  • Mary W

    March 15th, 2017 at 9:57 AM

    I do understand what you are saying, but there are children that do have real problems with their mood and controlling it. For years I was made to feel as I was a ” bad parent” or did not discipline the “right way” by my ex husband, who was never there to witness the severe meltdowns, the screaming , kicking, the destruction of property. Many days all I could do was to just go in my room and cry and pray, now my daughter who is 15 was recently diagnosed with dmdd and is on a mood stabilizer, I see an incredible change, her grades have improved and we can finally talk and I think have a real realationship . I know there are cases of bad parenting, but in my daughters case meds have changed her life and mine. If your are a parent who never has to go thru the severe struggles of dmdd, it is impossible to understand how very hard and debilitating it is for a family. It has completely changed me, but now I feel like there can be healing and understanding because there is a diagnosis .

  • Sam

    October 11th, 2017 at 1:04 PM

    Your comment is unfair to all parents who try so hard to raise their children to be respectful adults. I have three kids, all of whom are parented in the exact same way. I’m a strict mom, my children know my expectations and their limits. 2 of my kids have no problem following direction but with my eldest everything is a constant battle and that has nothing to do with my parenting style. Somethings are just out of some kids control and this describes my 6 year old perfectly so next time take a minute to think about your words before you judge tons of parents as Bad parents

  • Christina

    April 6th, 2018 at 2:00 PM

    I’m sorry, Georgia, but your response is ridiculous! You obviously have never been the parent or caregiver to a child with severe behavioral difficulties. If you knew the hell that we parents go through on a day to day basis trying to hold our families together, trying to be positive with our children, trying to keep them safe, trying to help them remain calm when they become irate…. well, maybe you’d have a little sympathy and understanding.

  • Jessica

    January 6th, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    This is helpful in consideration of my son, who is not bipolar but whose dr has him on a slew of meds for tantrums, aggressiveness, explosive tears, and treating symptoms of his Aspergers (bc he doesn’t grasp social cues he’ll impulsively grab arms, talk very loud in faces, etc). I’ve asked for fewer prescriptions and demanded he take him off a stimulant bc my son was on it for years. As soon as he went off, his anxiety and extreme bug phobia went away and it was a dream come.true to be able to take him places all summer without him screaming and hitting me and terrorizing his much younger sisters. I’d love for the doctor to take him off clonidine and wellbutrin (his antidepressant approach to me saying no stimulants, my child grew 6 inches and is normal again) and to add a mood stabilizer/anticonvulsant. He’s also on reperidone, .5mg twice a day. I’m wondering if after all these years I should find a new dr for my preteen or just keep following his advice, or if anyone thinks that a boy whose constantly crying and throwing explosive tantrums bc he needs to shower or get socks on or we’re out of juice should go the mood stabilizer route? sorry so long..I guess I needed to vent

  • Daniel

    January 7th, 2013 at 3:48 AM

    Well there are valid points from both the sides.TO have it as a disorder and to treat it as just another childhood behavior.While I think better parenting can solve many of these problems,it is not always possible to keep them under control even with better parenting.Sometimes the child may indeed have a problem.

    But even in such cases the treatment should proceed with extreme caution and care.I do not believe in putting young children on meds and then have those meds affect them negatively with all their side effects,thereby causing negative impacts that can last a lifetime.No,that is not how our children should be treated.Even if these tantrum problems are classified as a disorder,I would like to see a treatment devoid of any drugs and consisting purely of therapy and other non-drug methods.That is mainly because it will have almost no side effects and also because unlike meds these methods cannot have an effect on the biology and physical health.

  • Lana

    January 7th, 2013 at 3:53 AM

    I never thought that I would see the day when parents are looking for a diagnosis for bad behavior and seriously not taking a look at the child’s environment and those around him as a root cause for the problem.
    This is a way for any of us to escape culpability, to always have a way out and say that this is not our fault.
    But I think that if you get a little more real about the situation, you would discover that nine times out of ten, yes, it probably is something that we are doing wrong in the home that leads to this kind of behavior.
    I really don’t mean this to be denigrating to anyone’s parenting skills, because we all know just how difficult it is to be a good parent all the time. But we also have to accept the blame when something clearly avoidable comes back to us and look at better ways to solve the problem instead of always looking to the doctor for a prescription to fix it.

  • Kira

    January 3rd, 2018 at 10:25 AM

    I completely agree. I have a 35 yr old son who is full pervasive autistic. Boarderline LI I’m fairly sure if they had this DX around when he was little that would have been the first thing out of the grab bag they would have done. When in fact 3 tantrums a week is nothing compared to what I dealt with. My son was very quiet. But had terrible tantrums when I had to leave for work. He went through many stages. I just had to keep up with them. Had I not gotten the highest care and diagnosis, he would have been forced to be doped up and his disability’s not properly dealt with. Not to mention usually during or after puberty other disabilities can show thier ungodly faces . Like schyzoeffectuve disorder. Turrets . . I did not want to mask anything by dope. My son at age 18 asked to finally try meds. I gave him that option at age 16. After deep research , a wonderful Dr he did begin med treatment . But we did it very slow. Until we found just the right med to help with some of his symptoms. The rest is knowing his own strieghnths ( we focus on those ) and limitations. Behavior modification. Being proactive verses reactive. Heading off melt downs or stress. Not by drugs but by from a very young age teaching him how to express his frustration . He was not really verbal until after age 6. We used sign and words he could use. My son is in no way DMDD. But had every sign as a 6 yr old. To me it’s a crick DX in most cases. He’s now an amazing adult who has autism. By dealing with It verses masking it I feel is why he is the amazing man he is today. I would not change a hair in his adorable kind, loving head. He’s an earth angel.

  • Jessica

    January 7th, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    I’m not looking for this to be my son’s diagnosis. He has one, and I’ve worked with him for years on learning to pick up on what facial cues mean and calming techniques. If you READ, I was asking to compare his meds for somewhat comparable breakdowns for autism to the meds mentioned in this article. Funny, in a class I had at work they said before the dsm classification for it was written ignorance lead to immediately blaming autism on poor mothering.

  • Kira

    January 3rd, 2018 at 10:48 AM

    Being a veteran mother of a 35 yr old sin who is full pervasive along with other DDs. But the criteria was much higher. More difficult to get a DX. We had no support groups or autism awareness. Other than the movie rainman we had nothing at all. And Zi can’t tell you how many boxes of toothpicks were thrown at my sons feet. It took 100% commitment. I now am an advocate. But I find by my research DMDD is handed out like candy. Doping up children is wrong. And this DX should only be given by the highest qualified Nero psychiatric Drs. Not some hokie poke school therapyst or a GP after 3 mins. Even getting a proper DX for autism could not be done until after age 4. And had to be done by a Dr who actually knew what he she was doing. I can’t stand how GPs are steooing out if their field of expertise. So you have a difficult child? . Deal with it. Use your tools. Teach them how to use theirs. When we become parents we loose the right of easy. Your child might not be like others during childhood. Sorry. Drugs are to plaicate parents and teachers. When it’s just going to take extra hard work to get a child through a difficult time of life. We are not promised perfect children. If you are working hard one day you will be rewarded for your efforts. People just need to slow their roll. . I find the Yiu her generation are incredibly self entitled. They can spend the weekend with their boyfriend or go to parties because thier baby daddy is busy that weekend. And DMDD means they get to use dope verses actual parenting. I cried rivers alone at night . My husband was over seas in the military for over 2=yrs. then we divorced. Not on day of child support. I had to work and hire special care givers. Lived off very little sleep. No weakfair . That’s ok. Because through all of it I might have cried . But my child is amazing. And never once was willing to dope my child or allow anyone else to. I’m so glad I did not. I think DMDD needs to be but through extream scrutiny b4 handed out.

  • Billy

    January 7th, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    When I was working in an elementary school as a guidance counselor, we occasionally had students like this. We jokingly said they needed “woodshed therapy” or a return to punishments of days gone by. We were joking, of course, but there is something to good old fashioned discipline.

  • Maddie

    January 7th, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    How can a temper tantrum be considered a mental illness? For the love of all things good and sacred…

  • G Yahn

    January 7th, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    Consistency and neutrality are extremely critical for dealing with this disorder. Parents and care givers must both be on the exact same page and deal with outbursts in the exact same way. This is so much easier said than done. So much so that in 20 years of dealing with this disorder I’ve never seen it happen.

  • Laken

    January 7th, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    There is absolutely no substitute for a consistent schedule in a child’s life. This will not always be the easy answer, but for a lot of families just simply sticking to this helps to go a long way.

    I don’t think that anyone here is looking to point fingers, and I don’t find it helpful for anyone to take quick offense at reader responses. There is a lot of misunderstanding about behavior and mental illness together, and I think that being quick to judge really does shut down our opportunities to learn from one another.

  • Jessica

    January 20th, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need a diagnosis for bad behavior or bad parenting. I am a psychiatric nurse that primarily works with children ages 4-12 in an acute care setting. Personally, I don’t care what the behavior/illness is called. It’s there, it’s not going away and treatment/management needs to be provided and paid for. Blaming parenting style does nothing to solve the problem. Unfortunately, a majority of the parents of children I see are simply NOT going to change their parenting (or lack thereof). Often, they don’t have the insight, desire, resources, intelligence or motivation to provide effective parenting. Solutions that I’ve heard and sometimes even thought on my own are to place the child in foster care, educate parents, send the child to Residential Treatment Facility, teach coping skills, etc… The reality is that the foster care system could never manage the numbers. Additionaly consider that often times the transition from their family will cause trauma. As much as I would like to believe it’s this simple, lack of structure/parenting is often only one variable in this problem. I see parents everyday who provide a reasonable amount of structure and parenting only to have children with these problems. My heart falls apart every time I give perfectly good parents advice to “provide more structure” in their home. Are medications the answer? Sometimes yes. Nobody wants to put chemicals in their childs body, but right now, it’s one of the few answers that we have that is effective. I have seen enough children benefit from mood stabalizing medications that I don’t discount them. Part of my job is to evaluate the effectivenss of these medications and when an 8 year old tells you genuinely, “I forgot my medicine today and I feel really bad inside.”, you have to give the medications some credit. I think that another part of the puzzle is that, as a society, we are dysfunctional. The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” sums it up. When we see a single mother with several children, we often judge. What would happen if each neighbor said to that mother, “One day a week I can watch your children after school until you come home from work.”? I feel that too often social issues are dealt with by creating laws…privacy laws, reporting laws. What has happened to compassion, social mores?

  • Melissa

    March 17th, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    I am sure that there are children out there who have temper tantrums to get what they want because they have been raised to be brats without any discipline. I can guarantee you, though, that there are plenty of consequences for poor behavior in my home, but my son still has these irrational rages. Whether it is because he is too hot or because he thinks our dog doesn’t like him…he just starts to flip out at the most rediculous things. Since he was real young I have called him Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. Not all of it is temper tantrums though, I would describe it more as an extreme overreaction to slightly unpleasant situations. It kills me to read all these posts saying that it’s the parent’s fault. I work so hard to raise my children right. I have tried everything from diet to reward charts to medication. I’m at my wit’s end and I just pray that he will be okay when he grows up.

  • Jena

    June 3rd, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    Melissa I can empathize with you. My son is 7 and we have tried almost everything to help him. New parenting tools, diet, natural supplements, family therapy, and even a psychologist. Lots of good things but no magic pill yet. I describe my son as really good and really bad, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well. We’ve made some good progess but have random setbacks. If you find any answers, let me know and I’ll do the same. Hang in there, I know it can be extremely trying. You are doing an awesome job!

  • Shauna

    August 2nd, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Melissa and Jena I could not agree with you more. To those whose comments blame the parents I say you have NO IDEA what you are talking about! You have no idea how parents of these kids have tried everything to no avail – and I mean everything! It is not the kids being raised to be brats by parents who don’t care. Are you joking? We have other children that do not have these explosive episodes – do you truly believe that we parent one child differently than another in the same family? It’s the same parents for heaven’s sake!

    Do you not think parents of children with DMDD already blame themselves? We think if we were just better parents we would be able to stop this behaviour. We can’t! Would parents of children with other biological imbalances think “If I was just a better parent my child wouldn’t have diabetes”? Of course not – so why do you judge parents of children with DMDD like that? It’s incredibly insensitive and hurtful to parents like us who have literally spent countless sleepless nights soul-searching for ways to be a better parent or to find out where we went wrong.

    My husband and I have done everything we could to help our son. Parenting books, classes, doctor after doctor – there is nothing we would not do to try and help our son. How dare you judge us! You have no clue what it is like to live in a family with a child with DMDD. You could ask your child to please get in the shower and he punches a hole in the wall. You live every day knowing your child is unhappy – not throwing a tantrum because he doesn’t get his way but because he is truly angry and miserable ALL THE TIME!

    You can’t possibly fathom what our family life is like. The old saying don’t judge until you have walked a mile in someone’s shoes is truly apropos here. Please think about what you are saying before you blame the parents, especially because you can’t possible know what it is like.

  • Mom of daughter with DMDD

    October 12th, 2016 at 7:44 AM


  • Christina

    April 6th, 2018 at 2:18 PM

    Thank you!!!! Your post made me cry because I, too, experience everything that you speak of. It is a heart-breaking life. My daughter is 14 and is currently in her 5th residential treatment facility for long-term care. She has tried to commit suicide twice in the last 14 months. We have to keep knives, medications, etc… locked up because of her impulsive rages. We’ve done all kinds of parenting classes, read books, family therapy, couple’s therapy, you name it, we’ve done it. Can’t even tell you how many specialists we’ve seen just trying to get answers for her behaviors. I would not wish this life on anyone. Even at age 14, I cannot leave my daughter unsupervised. She hurts our animals, hits us, punches holes in the walls, calls us names, and can’t even attend school this year because of her behaviors. Her biological mother was a meth addict and did drugs during pregnancy as well as drank alcohol. It is believed that these substances has caused some kind of brain damage to my daughter. I fear for her safety. I fear for her future. And all these folks on here saying it’s a parent issue… take a behavioral child home with you for a week. You will quickly see that all your good intentions and strict schedules and lots of love and affection will have NO affect on a majority of these kids. BTW… I am a very seasoned parent. I’ve raised 3 of my own and have cared for over 43 foster children.

  • Donna

    March 22nd, 2019 at 9:53 AM

    My daughter was recently diagnosed with DMDD as well. It is a daily struggle. When she was younger she was such a sweet child and now I wonder where that child went. We have multiple lockboxes throughout the house to lock sharp items in. She overreacts to pretty much everything. Her outbursts have us all walking on eggshells most of the time. Her and her brother got in trouble the other day and lost internet time. Her brother said ok and took himself off to read. She flipped out and tried to run away. She is 14 but I have to have the child safety locks set in my car for her safety. She has been in and out of psychiatric centers since Christmas (4 times and it is only March). We literally have no idea how to help her. The psychiatrists say to keep sticking to our rules(we don’t give in and have no plans to), make sure she gets her meds and goes to counseling. It is very hard and parents that don’t have kids with these kind of disorders just don’t understand. I have 2 boys who do not have these outburst and I raise them all the same. My youngest son has ADHD and has his own set of issues but nowhere near what my daughter has. We struggle every single day any more. Blaming the parents for something totally out of their control is not helpful. Yes, there are bad parents out there but not all parents are. Some of us have tried everything. I can’t say that the meds & counseling are helping our daughter yet as they are new and these things take time. However, I have to believe that they will eventually help and that we will get our sweet daughter back.

  • Tana

    November 4th, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Shauna – You took the words right out of my mouth. I couldn’t have said it any better myself! My son was just recently diagnosed with DMDD, and let me tell you how disheartening it is to read so many comments putting full blame on the parents of these children! My husband and I have a very structured household, including 3 other children who never act in this manner. My son thinks the world hates him, he is constantly unhappy, and goes into explosive rages, sometimes, seemingly unprovoked. He is unpredictable, and quite honestly, very frightening. Imagine having your 6 year old pulling down dressers, throwing lamps, spitting, kicking, scratching, cussing, and threatening to kill you, over something very small. And this isn’t just because he didn’t get his way, or get a favorite toy at the store. These tantrums can sometimes last an hour or more, and we often have to hold him in bear hugs just to protect everyone in the house. We are exhausted! And to finally have that “label” that is so frowned upon, is such a relief. Finally, a step in the right direction. Parents need those labels in order to get help. These are not your average, ordinary, throw-a-fit-because-I-didn’t-get-my-way tantrums. Please keep this in mind before blaming the parents! I have raised enough children to know the difference. Like Shauna said, we live in hell at home, rarely a single moment of normalcy. Children with DMDD do not have a sinister motive, some sort of manipulative agenda to get everything they desire…in fact, the tantrums are rarely, if ever, about “getting” something. Please have a little bit of empathy, and open your minds, and your hearts to the reality of this diagnosis. It is VERY real.

  • Bryan

    October 26th, 2017 at 5:29 PM

    I have to say that at 2 and 3 I really was at odds with my wife and was constantly arguing with her for a lack of discipline with her parenting when she was alone with or dmdd son. I would say, he needs a time out, take a away priveledges etc. even spank if you have to. Staying home with him as a toddler she got the worst of it. I stepped up and tried to take a lead in setting strict limitations. Long story short our son is 6 now and we still haven’t been physically able to institute a successful timeout. When he goes off the rails at times you just try to calm him as best you can, and if you have to, restrain him for safety. Just as the diagnosis states the amplitude of these tantrums is way beyond that of a normal child’s and not that of an age appropriate response, ” I didn’t get my toy”. When he gets I injured for example he immediately is triggered and looks for a person to hit, comforting him makes him more upset. Try having a child that refuses a comforting hug when he scrapes his knee. We have found that staying calm and neutral, it’s no big deal, it’ll be fine, that bug can’t hurt you, etc. and quickly change the subject can really help to reduce the amount of time and severity of the instances. Our sons school despite us upfront trying to get as many services to manage his dissability and getting a multitude of professional diagnosis, treatments, and even medications, have many times threatenned to call ambulances and have a kindergartener hospitalized.
    They have attemted to remove him from the school, we have had to hire an advocate and an attorney just to keep him in school. This is a real diagnosis, it deserves real attention, more research, and information as to the treatment of this problem. Regarding our ability to parent, our first is an 8 year old girl that is very sweet and well disciplined, “a pleasure to have in class”. Some of the people on this blog sound like are child ignorant principal.

  • Marta

    December 29th, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Please, people. You can not judge until you have lived closely with a family who has a child like this (or walked a mile in their shoes, as they say). I have a niece who has recently been diagnosed with DMDD. She is my sister’s second child. I am a mother of two children myself and also work in the early childhood ed field. I initially thought it was just a toddler/preschooler tantrum phase, and tried to reassure my sister of this when she would call me in tears, insisting that this was way beyond what is normal. Well, she was right. Her first child had the normal tantrums and grew out of it, but this second one has not. At age 8.5 she is very difficult for anyone to be around, has few friends, and is barely getting an education, because the school has given up trying to get her to do anything. Now they just let her sit and draw pictures or hide in a little nest she’s made in a corner. It’s all they can do to keep her from being completely disruptive and having to be hauled out of the classroom in a rage. My sister, a very dedicated mom, has to go to school and sit in the classroom with her and try to get her to complete some of her work. She’s been suspended repeated times, starting in kindergarten, due to her intense and uncontrollable rages. She hits other adults and children and can not be calmed down once she deems anything “unfair”. This child doesn’t just have tantrums. She is angry and irritable pretty much all the time. In fact, many times when she acts “nice”, it comes off as false and creepy, as if she’s imitating the way she sees “nice” children acting on a sickeningly-sweet Disney channel show. Apparently the therapist has said that this is exactly what she is doing– kind of trying to “fake it till she makes it” since she really truly doesn’t know how to be that way, naturally. My sister has constantly blamed herself, wondering what she could have done differently. It’s hard not to blame yourself, when everyone, including many posters here, blame the parent. My sister is not a perfect parent, but she and her husband are probably better than most. Their older child (two years older) is wonderfully behaved and an excellent student, with many talents, and she was parented in exactly the same way. There is a family history of severe depression and ADHD, and I’m sooo happy that we finally have this diagnosis for my niece. Maybe we can finally find a way to help her feel better and be able to get back into learning at school. And maybe my sister can eventually get back to working some. At present, she can’t even work while her kids are at school, because she’s having to attend school WITH her daughter a lot of the time, and when she doesn’t, she’s likely to be called in at a moment’s notice to take her raging child home. So, it’s an extreme financial hardship, to be sure.

  • Jessica

    March 27th, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Anyone who thinks this is a parenting issue is dead wrong. There are kids who are out of control due to poor parenting and there are DMDD kids. HUGE difference. If you had one you’d know.

  • Kami

    May 12th, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Thank you Shawna, Tana and others who have kids like mine. Our situation is horrible and heartbreaking. My 7 year old has attacked me with knives, sticks, wrapped a cord around her sister’s throat, hurt animals, and so much more. Then she cries and says she has no idea what she is so bad. We are trying everything we possibly can. People without a child like this have no idea what they are talking about.

  • Ana

    September 8th, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    Has anyone tried neurofeedback for DMDD? What were the results? My son is 6.

  • Sandra

    September 20th, 2014 at 3:21 AM

    Wow, I just heard about DMDD today after reading an article sent today. I sent it to my eldest married daughter and asked if she thought of anyone when she read the article. She did, her two youngest sisters, our 14yo and 16yo daughters. Our older 4 children are all married, with their own children. They are all well adjusted and we had no major issues with any of the older children. But our last two meet the criteria of DMDD. Currently I reading a book on the dangers of prescription medications so meds for my girls are not a path we wish to go down. My heart goes out to you other families with this. I agree that people who simply blame parenting need to live this life that we do and see then what their thoughts are.

  • Rebecca B.

    October 6th, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    My daughter is 10 years old now and she has been diagnosed with severe disruptive disregulation disorder. It breaks my heart to see her go through so much anguish. Any friends she has made is short lived and she is constantly getting into trouble at school. I am in the process of getting her into on going therapy and possible medication. I have taken parenting classes and talked to doctors, along with never ending meetings and conversations with the many schools and babysitters she’s been at. I believe that she and other children like her will have a long and bumpy road ahead. We as parents of these children have to be strong and more creative in order to help them and ourselves endure. We can’t worry about what other people think, our focus should be our children.

  • Leo

    December 21st, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Im from Argentina (spanish speaking), my son is 7 years old and he was not diagnosed as DMDD by the doctors here (only the have told Behavior Disorder, but not so specific), but reading this article today and all the comments of the mamas Jessica, Melissa, Shauna, Kami,Sandra, Rebbeca… I can confirm that this disorder DMDD describes exactly the problem of my son Nicolas. Huge tamtrums for nothing, in the school he is a hurricane for example when he can not write a word or something.. no friends, no sports, my wife is distroyed. I have two more girls and are excellent at school, home, etc… they have friends and a normal life.
    I would like to know more about this problem and share maybe share with your families good practices and experiencies.

  • Melissa

    April 21st, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    My 7 year old daughter has been recently diagnosed with this disorder along with OCD. To those who have commented that a good home life and discipline are all a child needs for throwing tantrums, I would say before experiencing this myself first hand I would have agreed with you. However, as with most things you never know what someone is going through until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. My shoes are exhausted.

    This disorder is not just a tantrum; it is a full force rage that my daughter cannot be calmed, spanked, punished or scared out of. Many times after going to what we call the dark place, she will begin chanting stop over and over again for hours and eventually will fall asleep from exhaustion only to have nightmares that keep her from fully resting. It’s a vicious cycle, and any of her OCD issues can set it off – shoes not being tight enough, pants being too tight, a drop of water on her shirt, etc. It happens at least three to four times a week.

    We are happily married parents. We go to church. We are not smokers or excessive drinkers. Her older brother is well a well adjusted happy kid. I refused to believe for a long time she had any problem that I could not handle even though my husband said for a while she needed help. However, the tantrums finally became too much for me, and I began to see how miserable she truly was/is. She now goes to see a counselor and a psychiatrist. She is on medication – something I never thought I, as a parent, would ever do. So to those who are dealing with this, my heart and prayers go out for you.

    As to things that have helped, when she starts chanting or getting manic, which usually is a precursor to a meltdown, I try singing her favorite song to her or playing her favorite song on my phone. If I’m at home, I can turn on her favorite TV program. I have also found results with asking her off the wall questions that I know she will stop and answer me. I will say none of these work all the time and there is no consistency.

  • Susie

    May 9th, 2015 at 11:53 PM

    Question gor parents with children with DMDD: Has anyone found medication that has worked? We have tried everything from biomedical treatments to prescription medication and nothing is working.

  • Jennifer

    May 19th, 2015 at 5:51 PM

    I have a son, Nicholas, who is 7 and was diagnosed with DMDD when he was 6 years old. Symptoms were apparent in small ways as an infant an became more and more apparent as relationships and social interaction became part of his daily life (daycare, school,etc). I have two other children. 12 and 10. One is very active in the school community and the other, although not an honour roll student, is very well liked by his peers. All raised in the same home, school and environment, all with the same parenting skills.
    This disease is a nightmare, debilitating for both the child, parent, peers and supports around him. I am exhausted trying to find supports and help this boy succeed. I can read a handleful of articles available that describe this challenge of a diagnosis. What I need, what I think our child and parents in like situations need is SUPPORTS. First and foremost in our education system. My son has been suspended from school 10+ times since the school year began. And what does it accomplish? Absolutely nothing! The homeroom teacher has replaced 3 times this year (not including the many supply teachers). For a child, whom consistency, schedules and understanding is vital, it only sets him up for failure. My child is extremely intelligent but the school system, as it is structured today, does not nurture him – it discards him. Like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.
    I would home school him myself if I was able. It feels like the homework I’ve spent the time sound with him on weekends is the only thing he’s learned this year. But I work full time, as a sole income earner/parent in our home and that is not our reality.
    I’m looking for some ideas, direction and support with parents of like children.
    Signed, exhausted

  • Leonardo P.

    May 20th, 2015 at 4:37 AM

    Susie, in the last 6 months my son Nicolás (8 years old) has improved his mood dramatically. I could say 80% of improvement. Now he can share the time with classmates at school, he began to learn writing, reading, he has increased tolerance to frustration.
    No more prescription medication (risperidone, levomepromazine, valproic acid, NOTHING)
    Better and more natural food.
    Less time of TV, electronic games, computers.
    More footall, sun, fresh air.
    Anthroposophical medicine just as a complement.
    I have written in this blog in December when he condition of my son was very bad. Now he needs to continue improving, but he is living a happier life.

  • Lori

    July 1st, 2015 at 12:11 PM

    Wow-I cannot believe how all you parents are describing my daughter to a tee. She was diagnosed in the beginning of June with DMDD. Ten years old and in the last 6 months these tantrums have escalated out of control!! We lost my Mom and Dad 6 months apart from each other and that was hard on us both. That is when I noticed the tantrums were getting much worse. She has always had sensory issues but they have also become much worse. besides not wanting to wear any undergarments she also wants none of her clothing laundered anymore. She threw a fitful rage when I washed he filthy clothes from camp last night. She is all the things the others mentioned. Manipulative, selfish, has no friends, always getting into trouble. She has problems with teachers and her counselors. If she can’t control you, she has no interest. When she is really bad she also cries and tells me how sorry she is and that she can’t help it. She is horrible to me and curses at me daily. (especially when she does not get the meal she wants to eat) yet every night she demands to sleep in my bed with me (single parent) She refuses to go back to therapy and I am at my wits end. She refused to go to camp this morning and I don’t know what do to with her at this point. My life is a living hell and I dread going to pick her up at night. There is such a stigma attached to all of this I fear for us. I have been trying to get help Since January of 2015. I finally got an eval and diagnosis this june. Trying to find someone that takes my insurance is impossible I now don’t care I will put it on my charge card because I cannot face another day of this child. She is my daughter and I love her but she scares me too. I am embarrassed of her and afraid to bring her anywhere because of her unpredictable behavior. God Bless us with this DMDD we need it. She called the cops on me last month and they treated me like an animal. I told the cop you should try taking care of her for one day and you would not be treating me this way. I told him he had no idea what is was like to take care of a child like this. He told me I should not of had kids and that she was probably that way because of me!! Karma is a bitch Mr. Cop. I hope when his kid calls him a mother fer he will think of me. Walk a day in my shoes mr. cop man. This is what society thinks of most of us parents with kids like this!! How dare they? Ignorance is all I can say.

  • John

    October 7th, 2016 at 1:34 PM

    I know what your going through!! We are in the same boat and have cops come to our door to “investigate” why our daughters behavior is all about. We welcome anyone to take a look at her medical records and see what we all go through every day! All these investigations by police and child protective services come to one result, that our daughter has a condition, DUH, it’s called DMDD!! No help after they realize the condition, they just leave you alone. We need more assistance, more help, more people to get involved.

  • Jennifer

    October 28th, 2015 at 6:21 AM

    I have three children. My oldest two are ANGELS. I have had VERY few problems with them ever. As a matter of fact teachers, Sunday School teachers, friends, family, etc that have spent time with them rave on what amazing children they are.

    Then there is my son. He is a challenge to say the least. Outburst, violence, foul language, melt downs, etc are a norm with him. Every thing about him is difficult. It took a couple of years of trying EVERYTHING… and I mean EVERYTHING to figure out why he behaves the way he does. Eventually he was diagnosed with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder and it was like a light switch went off.

    So to the commenters who say that these parents are just looking for an excuse to not properly parent their misbehaving child–you can kindly kiss my *ss. Not only have I spent countless hours trying to tweak my behavior in response to his, trying to make a more regulated schedule/discipline, tried more sleep, less sugar/dyes, etc… but I have also spent more nights than I care to count up all night crying because I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. This isn’t about poor parenting. If it were, I’d have three unruly children who don’t follow direction and throw big fits everywhere we go.

    There is something wrong with my child, not my parenting.

  • Alicia

    April 1st, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    I have read so many stories that relate to mine. My 10 yr old son has struggled with behavior problems since he was about 6. Uncontrolled outburst/tantrums, violent behavior, mood swings, and just acting out of control for his age. The last straw was to have testing done to try to find a diagnosis, as with consistent parenting wasn’t helping the situation and removing added food dyes, etc. We tried everything! He did testing and was diagnosed with DMDD. We felt relief. They put him on an anti – psychotic medication which helped him to change his behavior but I could tell he was doped up, not himself and started having side effects. After several trials of changing the dose and no improvement they took him off of it. I felt we were back to square 1. So I began doing research on how I could help him naturally. I am a member of 2 health and wellness companies and I knew there had to be something I could use to help him. I since have found a few essential oils that are helping his moods and the biggest improvement has come from a supplement that helps to balance the brain naturally! His behavior has changed drastically! He listens better, thinks before acting, no more outburst, and is just acting like a typical 10 year old. I am amazed! For so many years we felt helpless and clueless on what to do, at times like it would never end. We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! This way of treatment may not be for everyone but I knew it was my way to help him, and now to help others. I want to give hope and help to anyone dealing with this situation, there are ways to heal when prescription meds and therapy doesn’t help. My son is taking the supplement daily, no more counseling, psychiatrist or prescription meds!

  • Hilda

    August 23rd, 2016 at 7:22 PM

    Hello what essential oils help and what is the supplement you use fir your child Thanks

  • Amy

    September 2nd, 2016 at 7:53 AM

    You want to help others, but you didn’t say what supplements you are using that have made such a huge difference :(

  • Rachel

    October 21st, 2016 at 8:05 AM

    I would like to know which supplements and oils you have found helpful too. Please let me know if you have a chance to. Thank you so very much.

  • Jamie

    May 5th, 2017 at 7:27 PM

    I would love to know what you used also.. My 8 year old son is on meds and seems to be getting worse not better.. will try anything that might help…

  • Leo

    April 3rd, 2016 at 4:56 PM

    Alicia, you are giving me hope. But I need more and specific information about these essential oils and supplements. Thank you.

  • Hope

    April 19th, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    I would like to know about the supplement as well.

  • Pamela L

    August 23rd, 2016 at 8:07 PM

    My son was just diagnosed yesterday with DMDD. I would really like to know what supplement you are using and what oils!? Please!

  • John

    October 7th, 2016 at 1:27 PM

    My daughter was diagnosed last year with DMDD. 16 years of feeling like a bad parent and alone since there were so few that knew, experienced, or understood this condition. We’ve tried meds, supplements, etc but how can you give it to someone who refuses to take it long term cause she is terrified of the black label warning. Besides my daughter having DMDD, she has anxiety disorder and communication disorder. We’ve had child protective services come to our house cause people don’t understand this condition and the effects it can have until they see or experience it for themselves. People look as us like and our daughter in disgust. I was wondering if anyone has considered medical marijuana/extracts for this condition? I hear they make these extracts without the bad THC part and the benefits of mood stabilization.

  • Norselord

    April 5th, 2017 at 10:06 PM

    I read through a few comments – when i reached roughly the tenth comment that stated “its just tantrums, not a medical condition” or “stricter parenting” etc. I gave up, and came down here to leave a comment.

    I believe this is real. I believe my son has this, and my daughter does not. They are both raised with the exact same set of rules and are rewarded appropriately for good behavior and disciplined for bad behavior. I am a strict parent, and do not tolerate various forms of willful disobedience. Some might say i am too strict or old school.

    Dismissing this as a behavioral issue and not treating it as a mental disorder, is akin to telling someone with anorexia to “eat more cheeseburgers” or someone with major deppresion to “just be happier” or a person with OCD to “relax and not worry about the little things.”

  • Maggie

    May 4th, 2017 at 9:51 AM

    It’s quite disheartening to see the quick judgement of parenting skills. By the time these children get to a diagnosis the parents have most likely have had a run-in with the cops or child services from a well-meaning neighbor, countless meetings at their children’s school to address behavioral issues, countless phone calls from their after school care programs to pick up the child for unsafe and disruptive behaviors, and most likely the child has endured hospitalization at least once. The road to diagnosis is not immediate and to assume so is dangerous and does a great disservice to the mental health profession.

    As parents we have spent countless hours adjusting our structure, schedules, nutrition, discipline techniques and more all in effort to keep our children calm. We plan for transitions with a laser focus that would put the secret service to shame in any of their operations all in the name of managing the transition.

    A temper tantrum is when the child is expressing displeasure over having to take a shower when the parents have given them freedom to skip showers other nights. An explosive rage filled outburst occurs when the child refuses to shower although the showers happen at the same time every single night like clockwork.

    I provide so much structure and consistent boundaries I feel like I live in a prison. No room for error, and even then I’m told that we need to provide better structure and boundaries. Hours of therapy pinpointing the triggers and what I did wrong once again.

    It’s a very lonely road.

  • Mea

    July 31st, 2017 at 10:07 PM

    For my 6 yo diagnosed with DMDD and ADHD he has never had a tantrum, instead when he’s treated (in his mind) unfairly, he gets quiet, rage fills his eyes and he runs into me with his head or starts swinging at me with his fists. My sweet considerate boy is not “present” when this happens, his mental illness takes over and he is blinded by rage – it doesn’t matter what triggers it, for my family and I it’s scary because he can’t control it, we can’t punish that just as we wouldn’t punish a child for having a physical seizure and knocking over furniture, it is not fair to punish a child having an “emotional” seizure for knocking over furniture.
    Being absent during an “emotional seizure” a child with DMDD can be devastated by the aftermath of their seizure and extent of their damage. Our responsibility as parents and educators is to help them minimize the damage; vacate the classroom, don’t allow them to use sharp objects; give alternative activities to completion, redirect, praise calm responses to challenging situations (such as standing in line, losing a game, being treated mean by a classmate or sibling). Tantrum is not accurate imo, at all, that’s not what this is in my experience; this is an inner rage that takes a child over and reveals an evil dark side of mental illness that is only quelled by medication management lest the poor child end up in prison for injuring someone during an episode emotional beyond their control. Me, personally, I don’t want to look an adult son in the eye, him beyond bars for murdering someone during an episode, and explain that I heard medication could have helped but I didn’t support the use of it. In my imagination, this convict son of mine screams at me “you knew?! You knew medication existed that could help me control this?! And you denied it me?! And now I am here doing life in prison for something I don’t even remember doing and so very much regret?!”
    Medication is keeping me sane and alive for my son and keeping him sane and out of prison.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.