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Treatment for Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

Treatment for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder consists of medications, therapy. Get trusted details on DMDD treatment on HealthyPlace.

Currently, treatment for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is based on what has been helpful for other disorders that present similar symptoms.  Since it’s a fairly new diagnosis, additional research is needed regarding specific and effective treatment for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.

DMDD Treatment Goals

Treatment for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder aims to address the cardinal DMDD symptoms, including temper tantrums, anger outbursts, and aggression.  Treatments used for pediatric bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder are often applied to the treatment of children with DMDD, due to the overlap in symptomology of the disorders (The Difference Between Oppositional Defiance (ODD) and DMDD).

Temper tantrums – temper tantrums, sometimes referred to as anger outbursts, are exaggerated (and often developmentally “inappropriate”) tantrums that incorporate both distress and anger.  The emotions driving the tantrum typically come on quickly and dissipate over the course of the outburst.

Aggression – aggression refers to hostile or injurious words or actions.  Aggression in DMDD can be towards oneself or another person.  Aggression is one of the most obvious signs of DMDD; parents commonly seek disruptive mood dysregulation disorder treatment for their child after an instance of aggression has occurred.  

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Treatment Plan

A disruptive mood dysregulation disorder treatment plan usually consists of psychiatric medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.  Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder treatment may vary based on the intensity and prevalence of symptoms.  

With varying effectiveness, medications, including stimulants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, have been used to treat severe mood dysregulation, a central symptom of DMDD.  

Stimulants are often prescribed for children with ADHD and can be effective in decreasing irritability and anger.  

Antidepressants target both the irritability and the underlying sadness inherent to DMDD.  Yet using antidepressants as part of the treatment for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder can come with some difficult side effects, including the possibility of suicidal thoughts.

Atypical antipsychotics are sometimes prescribed for children with more significant symptoms of rage.  This class of medication also comes with its own set of side effects, including weight gain, hypertension, and high cholesterol.  

Beyond medication, treatment for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder almost always includes a therapeutic component.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common approach to disruptive mood dysregulation disorder treatment. CBT has been effective in addressing the severe mood dysregulation inherent to DMDD.  CBT teaches children techniques and strategies to monitor and manage their emotions, incorporate structure and stability into daily routines, and increase family support through parental education and at-home practice.   

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), a subset of CBT is frequently used in treating individuals with emotion regulation problems.  Through skills training, children with DMDD can learn to regulate their mood and better tolerate frustration.

Parent training can be very helpful in dealing with DMDD. Parenting a child with DMDD is challenging, and traditional parenting methods may not be effective.  Through training, parents can learn to approach and interact with their child differently, which can lead to less aggression and difficult behavior.

Additional studies are needed to identify the most effective treatment for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder in children, and further research will continue to increase clarity around this.  Nonetheless, if your child has DMDD, it is vital to start identifying interventions and seeking treatment as soon as possible.

article references

APA Reference
Jarrold, J. (2018, July 22). Treatment for Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/dmdd/treatment-for-disruptive-mood-dysregulation-disorder

Last Updated: May 25, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD