Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

What is it?

  • A condition in which a child is chronically irritable and experiences frequent, severe temper outbursts that seem grossly out of proportion to the situation at hand (Mental Health Guide).
  • These children do not experience mania or hypo-mania characteristic of bipolar disorder, and they do not typically develop adult bipolar disorder, although they are at elevated risk for depression and anxiety as adults(Mental Health Guide).

Mental Health Guide. 2015.Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. Child Mind Institute.

Diagnostic Criteria

  • Must be between the ages of 6 and 18; on set by 10 (DSM-V)
  • Mood between outbursts is persistently and noticeably irritable and/or angry (DSM-V)
  • Must have symptoms for 12 months, with out going symptom free for 3 or more consecutive months (DSM-V)
  • Symptoms are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (DSM-V)
  • Outbursts are inconsistent with developmental level (DSM-V)
  • On average outbursts occur 3 or more times per week and last at least half the day (DSM-V)

DSM-V. 2015. Proposed Criteria for DMDD. Colorado

For a more detailed list of criteria visit:

Treatment Options

Since this is a new diagnosis, treatments are still being tested to find the best treatment. However there are a few different options. One includes Medication. The medication prescribed for DMDD is similar to those prescribed for bipolar, anxiety, depression and ADD. These medications include anti- psychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, and stimulants. Another form of treatment is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. This includes creating a routine for the child and a stable environment, giving the child coping skills, and helping to create a family support system. One other treatment used for DMDD is play therapy. This helps to teach children how to better handle situations. (Gilea, O'Neil)

Gilea, Brandy PHD. O'Neil, Rachel PHD. 2015. Description of DMDD. American Counseling Associaltion.

Pros and Cons


  • Clear definition (Carlson)
  • There is now a way to label explosive behavior that does not meet the requirements of other diagnosis (Carlson)
  • Hope in helping to better understand and treat these children (Carlson)
  • More positive sounding label then previously used (Psycritic)


  • Conflicting symptoms with multiple other diagnosis such as ADHD, ODD, Anxiety, Autism, Depression, Schizophrenia, Mania and Intermediate Explosive Disorder (Carlson)
  • Little research on treatments (Carlson)
  • Fear of over diagnosing children, and missing more sever underlying diagnosis (Carlson)

Dr. Carlson, Gabriel. 2015. A New Diagnosis for Explosive Behavior. Child Mind Institute

Psycritic. A Child Psychiatrist's thoughts on DSM-5 DMDD. Blogger

For more information on DMDD vist: