If you’ve ever experienced the feelings of road rage and thought to act on the rage you feel, you might be suffering the effects of Intermittent Explosive Disorder.
You’re on the highway, headed out of town for a long weekend with the girls, when out of nowhere you hit a traffic jam, or you’re stuck behind someone traveling in the left-hand lane well under the speed limit. How do you react? Do you simply blow out a slow breath and laugh with your friends about your luck?
Or do you sit in your car seething with anger, cursing vividly enough to make a sailor blush, and searching for something to throw at the offending car? If you took the funnier, but the much less productive second route, you may have a mental disorder.
The Overcomplication of Road Rage
Much like everything else in the world, we’ve complicated something as simple as what used to be called road rage. To an extent, every human being on Earth has a small touch of road rage, and now it is being classified as a mental illness.
That’s right, road rage is now called Intermittent Explosive Disorder, and doctors are estimating that over sixteen million people may suffer from it, but what does it entail? Is it something as simple as losing your temper in traffic, or is there something more?
While a slight twinge at the sign of a driver going forty miles per hour in a seventy mile per hour speed limit should be a normal reaction, experts are now saying that severe road rage is not. If you’re constantly tailgating, cursing, blowing the horn, and being a general nuisance in traffic, the situation may have escalated beyond your control.
Certainly, Intermittent Explosive Disorder differs greatly from your run of the mill frustration with traffic, but how do you determine what symptoms are run of the mill and which ones may be indicative of the disorder?
The Diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder
Intermittent Explosive Disorder, or IED, is diagnosed as being an extreme, violent, aggressive overreaction to specific stimuli. In most cases, the attacks come on quite suddenly and can last for thirty minutes or more. During an attack, the sufferer feels as though they’re completely out of control of their actions, and they run the potential of hurting themselves, others, or physical property around them.
This type of illness usually starts in the teenage years, and continues throughout early adulthood, and can get quite serious. It is estimated that people suffering from IED have done, in excess of, $1500 worth of damage to their home or other property in the course of an attack.
Doctors say that this disease is much more serious than originally suspected, and is much more than just a bad attitude. Treatment of the disorder can require medication, but it often countered and controlled with therapy and coping techniques.
Signs and symptoms include extreme irritability, racing thoughts, aggressiveness, and bouts of rage that may be triggered by a small slight. Many people do not receive treatment for this illness and are left to suffer through the bouts alone. For some, an episode will produce a feeling of ease, directly followed by shame.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder is Very Real
If anyone else out there is a bit of a skeptic, you’re probably asking if this is just another cute way for lawyers and doctors to explain away bad behavior when someone gets angry and starts a fistfight at a stoplight. Medical professionals claim that IED is a serious disorder, and many people who suffer from it also have other contributing mental illnesses as well, or addiction issues.
It would appear that some people are more prone to flipping their lids at any perceived slight, or injustice, but does road rage really fall into this category? Have we been over-simplifying road rage?
Road Rage at its Worst
We use road rage to describe anyone who has difficulty dealing with extreme traffic situations, or someone who loses it when another driver cuts them off, but that’s not what they’re talking about with this disorder. They’re talking about the drivers that are completely unable to control themselves and have been known to pull weapons or other drivers out of their cars in traffic jams or at stoplights.
This disorder addresses the most severe forms of road rage, so don’t run out and sign yourself up for therapy because you laid on your horn when that soccer mom on her cell phone cut across three lanes of traffic and cut you off.