Anger Issues, Violent Behavior & IED

Unlike traditional psychiatry, which rarely looks at the brain, Amen Clinics uses brain imaging technology to identify brain patters associated with anger issues, violent behavior, and intermittent explosive disorder.

What are Anger Issues, Violent Behavior & Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

Everybody gets angry from time to time, but when the degree of anger or aggression is greatly out of proportion to the situation, it’s an indicator that something’s wrong. Serious anger or violence may be a sign of intermittent explosive disorder (IED). The acronym IED is ironic because it is the same as the one used for “improvised explosive device” in war. With IED, angry explosions generally last less than half an hour and can leave you feeling relieved, exhausted, and sometimes embarrassed by your words and actions. Having ADHD or a personality disorder also increases the likelihood for problems with angry or violent behavior. Over 80 percent of people with IED also struggle with anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.

Who has Anger Issues?

Anyone can have anger issues, but it is more common in males. It is estimated that about 2.7% of people have intermittent explosive disorder. In younger people, the onset typically occurs just prior to or during adolescence. In adults, it is more commonly seen in people in the 20s and 30s. People who grew up in an abusive home or who have suffered multiple traumas are at higher risk for IED and other anger issues.

Core Symptoms of Anger

For some people anger issues can be chronic, and they feel irritable and mad most of the time. For others, rage can flare up suddenly without warning and only on an occasional basis. Sudden rages may also be associated with a boost in energy, racing thoughts, heart palpitations, chest tightness, tingling, or increased tension. Symptoms of anger issues and IED include:

  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Physical fights
  • Verbal tirades
  • Slapping, punching, pushing, or other bodily harm
  • Harm to animals

What Causes Anger?

Intermittent Explosive Disorder and other anger issues are commonly seen in people with:

  • Childhood abuse
  • Emotional trauma
  • ADHD
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse

When left untreated, IED and other anger issues can have lasting consequences:

  • Relationship troubles
  • Work problems
  • School problems
  • Legal issues
  • Financial troubles
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health issues
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal behavior

Why Choose Amen Clinics for Treating Anger Issues?

At Amen Clinics, we use brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose and treat our patients. This helps identify any dysfunction or damage in the brain, as well as any co-existing conditions, that need to be addressed. We also assess other factors—biological, psychological, social, and spiritual—that can contribute to anger issues, violence, and IED. Based on all of this information, we are better able to personalize treatment using the least toxic, most effective solutions for a better outcome.

Angry or Violent Brains Work Differently

In a brain SPECT imaging study performed at Amen Clinics on people who had assaulted another person or damaged property, more than 70% had abnormalities in the left temporal lobe region of the brain. It seems that left temporal lobe damage or dysfunction makes a person more prone to irritable, angry, or violent thoughts.

Healthy Brain Scan

Anger Brain Scan

The temporal lobes, located on either side of the brain behind the eyes and underneath the temples, are involved with emotional stability, understanding and processing memories, and more. When there is abnormal activity in the temporal lobes, it can be associated with aggression (internally or externally directed), dark or violent thoughts, emotional instability, and other problems. Temporal lobe problems can come from many sources, the most common being genetics, head injuries, and toxic or infectious exposure. Since the temporal lobes sit in a cavity surrounded by bone on five sides (front, back, right side, left side, and underside) they can be damaged by a blow to the head from almost any angle. In fact, the temporal lobes, along with the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate gyrus, are the parts of the brain most vulnerable to damage by virtue of their placement within the skull.

SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) is a nuclear medicine study that evaluates blood flow and activity in the brain. Basically, it shows three things: healthy activity, too little activity, or too much activity. The healthy surface brain SPECT scan on the left shows full, even symmetrical activity. The scan on the right, which is of a patient with anger issues who fell off a roof, shows damage to the frontal lobe and left temporal lobe.

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People with anger issues are often sent to anger management classes, which can be very beneficial for some people. But if there is damage or dysfunction in the temporal lobes, no amount of class time is going to resolve the issue. When there are issues with the temporal lobes, the underlying biological problem needs to be addressed. For example, if the damage to the temporal lobes is due to toxic exposure, one of the first steps to improving brain health is to avoid exposure to the toxin, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, mold, chemicals, pesticides, or some other type of toxin. It’s also critical to support the body’s 4 organs of detoxification—skin, kidneys, liver, and gut. If the damage to the temporal lobes is due to a chronic infection, such as Lyme disease, it’s important to treat the infection while also engaging in a brain healthy program. Any co-occurring disorders—such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, or addiction—also need to be treated to aid in the healing process.


“With A Better Brain Comes A Better Life”

– Daniel G. Amen, M.D.


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