Why Teenagers Short-Tempered?

Teen angst is one thing, but violent
anger attacks that continue more
than a few times a year may indicate a
rage-type disorder, called intermittent
explosive disorder. (Picture from:  
Indiscriminate shooting of a teenager in the United States do not just happen once. The most recent case was a 17-year-old student who opened fire on fellow classmates in Ohio, the United States.

Recent studies say teens today it is more easily upset. Nearly two-thirds of teenagers in the U.S. showed an uncontrollable rage in some phase of their lives.

Anger is partly shown in the form of threats of violence, property destruction, or physical violence against others. Despite not be called a mental disorder, 6-8 percent of these adolescents meet the criteria as intermittent explosive disorder patients, the diagnosis given to people with uncontrollable aggressiveness.

"The explosion of anger is very serious," said Ronald Kessler, researchers from Harvard Medical School. This temper, says Kessler, not only can hurt others and destroy property, but also will continue to be brought up to the teenager growing up.

Kessler and his colleagues analyzed data from 6,483 pairs teens and their parents who took part in a survey of households National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement.

The results showed, nearly one in 12 people, or 7.8 percent of the respondents, to meet "the criteria for life" as intermittent explosive disorder patients. While 6.2 percent of respondents meet the narrow definition, which experienced three anger in the past one year.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder usually begins in late childhood and persists through the middle years of life. (Picture from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/)
Anger is the most common involving the threat of violence (reported in nearly 58 percent of cases), followed by violent anger (39 percent), and which involves the destruction of the properties (almost 32 percent). More than 72 percent of respondents said that anger involves more than one kind of behavior.

What's a parent to do
For parents who aren't sure whether their child's anger is normal or in need of a doctor visit, Kessler says repeated episodes are red flags. "It's tough for a parent because you only have one kid or two kids to compare with, and it's hard for you to know what normal is," Kessler said.

"It's the kind of thing if you start seeing it over and over again, it's not getting smaller as the kid gets older, [then] it's something that you need to address."

Some research has shown that antidepressants that work to dampen panic attacks may also do the same for these anger attacks, said Kessler, who wasn't involved in that work. In fact, he said there may be a link between the two. Studies suggest IED is more common in kids of mothers who suffer from panic attacks. And while panic attacks are more common in women, anger attacks are more common in males, Kessler noted.

As such, he suggests a combination of genetic and environmental factors may underlie intermittent explosive disorder.

"Whether it's biology that makes the boy punch someone in the nose and the girl scream, or it's society, somehow I think the same biological determinants are getting morphed," Kessler said, referring to anger and panic attacks.

His other research has shown that IED persists into adulthood. With a "not trivial" percentage of adolescents experiencing the disorder, Kessler and his colleagues say more research is needed to figure out what's behind IED and to develop screening and treatment strategies.

"The bottom line is I'm just amazed at how big of a problem this is and it's not on people's radar screens," Kessler said. *** [LIVESCIENCE | MAHARDIKA SATRIA HADI | KORAN TEMPO 3931]
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