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Disruptive Mood Disorder

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) is characterized by frequent and intense temper outbursts in children that are disproportionate to the situation, occurring more than three times per week. Additionally, the child must consistently display angry or irritable moods across various settings, including interactions with parents, teachers, and peers. While occasional moodiness is normal in children, those with DMDD exhibit chronic irritability and rage outbursts triggered by minor provocations, such as being asked to wear the wrong pair of pants. These intense emotions, coupled with deficits in emotion regulation, often strain relationships with family, teachers, and friends. It's important to note that DMDD is not diagnosed before age 6, as temper tantrums are typical at younger ages. Prolonged tantrums and irritability may signal mania, associated with Bipolar Spectrum Disorders.

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At The Anxiety Center treatment of DMDD begins with a functional behavior assessment to uncover the typical sequence of events leading up to the outbursts along with determining the most common consequences. The clinician will work with the child's family to extinguish the outbursts, while also reinforcing more adaptive responses through a process called contingency management. This will be conducted while also addressing the reality of the intense emotions that the child will need to learn to cope with and regulate. To do this, skills training from Dialectical Behavior Therapy is often incorporated into the treatment program as indicated and may include mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. These skills are also taught to parents as a means to increase consistent response styles within the home, while also helping to create a more validating environment for the child.

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